When I was at the AASL conference in October, I talked to a university professor who is on YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee. She explained to me that she reads a book a day. Wow! I did know that all members of the BFYA committee are expected to read over 300 books a year, but I just couldn't finish a book every day. I love to read. I love reading YA titles, but I just don't think that I have the time to read that much. I average 50 titles a year. I admit that some days I just don't feel like reading. Other days I read for several hours. I am going to start reviewing books for Library Media Connection and School Library Journal. I hope that I can meet their deadlines.
This is the time of the year when everyone seems to be making best of and worst of lists. I tried to avoid it because I did not want to be cliche, but I like to reflect. Even though I probably mentioned some of these titles in this blog over the year, I want to give another plug to some of my favorite authors and titles that I read in 2011.
Bookmarked, my high school book group, is part of the YALSA YA Galley program. So we are sent boxes and boxes of books. The kids get excited every time a new box arrives, but the boys usually walk away disappointed because all the new titles seem to be geared for girls. (Publishers did you hear this? We need more books with teenage boy appeal!) Several of my favorite reads this year had male protagonists and would definitely appeal to boys. I loved John Corey Whaley's Where Things Come Back. The small town setting, the cast of hilarious characters, and the idea that the search for a woodpecker would be more important than the search for a lost boy was intriguing. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi was the Printz winner for the year, and if I had been on that committee, it would have had my vote too. It is about a dystopian world where no one ever heard of child labor laws, as the kids are sent in to strip old ships to mine them of valuable materials. Another title that I enjoyed that would appeal to boys was the end of the trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, Goliath. I thought it was the best of the three, and I love the stories that give the reader an alternate history like he does with World War I. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel, which tells the story of Victor Frankenstein's life as a teenager was a gothic adventure that could have been written hundreds of years ago.
I also want to mention Gary Schmidt's Okay for Now. It just so happens that Doug in the story was born the same year as I was. This really was one of my very favorites that I read this year, but as it is historical fiction, my students have not had a lot of interest. I recommend it all the time, though. My other very favorite of the year was Shine by Lauren Myracle. It is so different from her other works. It tells a harsh story, but in such a beautiful way. Since my book group got to meet Lauren at the ALA conference this summer, they all got signed copies of Shine. They liked the book as much as me.
There you have it. It is not a definitive list, nor an authoritative list. I read books to feed my soul, and these books did the trick. I can't wait to see what awaits me in 2012.