I read a lot as a teen and the books always ranged from too-adult to too-childish. Actually, I didn’t read a lot of YA when I was a teen because the library on the island I lived at the time didn’t have a room for those sort of books. So I devoured anything that I could find. What did I end up reading? A number of books that left me semi-traumatized but I found a few gems in the process.
My Favourite Books When I Was A Teenager
The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley
I fell into Zimmer Bradley with the Mists of Avalon but The Firebrand is easily one of my favourite books by her. As a teenager I reread this book a number of times. I loved, well, I still love, her blend of fantasy, historical fiction and female-centered books.
I’d give her books a shot. She’s got some great themes going on, such as Atlantis, Avalon and so on.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
The original Harry Potter is in the house! I fell in love with the series when I was 11 but it sustained me throughout my entire teenaged youth. I loved this series so much that even when I was 15, I still squishing myself into a Harry Potter sweater my aunt bought me when I was 12. I didn’t care if I looked ridiculous. I had Harry Potter swag.
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
I don’t know how I found this book. I read it when I was 14 and looking back, the book was a bit above my level at the time but I trudged through it diligently. I think I found it in the throw-away bin at the library I volunteered at. I loved the words and the way Cunningham wrote and I identified with a number of the characters.
Black Like Me by John Griffin
This was another library throw out that I rescued. I had mixed feelings about this book. At 13 I was slowly becoming aware about my differentness and other things associated with race and class. At the time, I thought the book was interesting and conveyed a lot about the American South during the time. Now though, I’m not too sure I’d recommend this book to others but it was a favourite for 2 to 3 years.
Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice
I devoured anything by Anne Rice as a teenager. My best friend and I were the typical social misfits: We were weird and tiny for our age and no one seemed to like us. That was just fine because we had Anne Rice to keep us company! I mean, her mother would sometimes staple a few of the sex scenes’ pages together but we found a way around it. I firmly believe that Anne Rice started my life long obsession with fantasy, historical fiction and vampires.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
My dad got this for me when I was 15 and oh this brought out a huge bookish hangover. I didn’t eat, sleep or move for about 2 days to finish this book and made my self madly sick in the process. But I loved every minute and detail of it. I think it was this book that solidified a love of historical fiction or quests, that lone academic searching for some piece of elusive history.
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
How did I hear of this book? Erg… Yes! Ok so when I was 14 we took a trip to Florida (the Bahamian destination of course, it’s close by and dead cheap) and my dad took me to a Barnes & Nobles because we both loved books like that. I remember looking in the HF aisle and one of the staff said I was too young for this section and that YA was down the aisle. At that point I didn’t even know what YA stood for and said, “No, I’m good thanks” and kind of hunkered into a bookshelf, willing myself not to exist till he went away. He didn’t. Instead though, he gave me this book and said I’d like it. I hadn’t told the man anything about my preferences or what not but he made a right assessment, I loved this book.
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
Say what you will about Dan Brown and his books but I love the Robert Langdon series. I know they’re not grounded in fact or based on any truths but you have to give it to the man, the books are entertaining! I quickly went through his follow up book, The DaVinci Code when it came out. Too bad the films sucked.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
This is a teenage classic for me. My copy of this book is so battered and underlined and dog-eared, it reflects the love I have for it. My friend gave me this, and much to the chagrin of my english teacher (she said we couldn’t read books like that yet. Come on, I was 13.) I loved this book dearly. There is something about the pain the protagonist goes through that makes one connect with it. It’s a worthy read.
The Lady And The Unicorn by Tracey Chevalier
My friend suggested this for me (again, my friend is a major instigator for my budding bookishness) and it started me on art history. I loved how Chevalier created a world and story just based on a simple tapestry. Imagine the worlds we could create behind art. Imagine the stories.