On Voting: Primaries and NPR’s Top 100 Teen Novels

Yesterday was primary election day in my state. Our leaders passed one of those controversial picture ID voting laws, which seems ridiculous when turnout is expected at 18%. You’d think those in charge would want to encourage, rather than discourage, participation.

The most important races I can’t vote in because I’m not a registered Republican. There is a Democrat primary for the second district Congressional seat, but I’m not excited about either of the candidates or hopeful that they’ll be able to win in November. For the first time since I’ve come of age, I didn’t vote in the election.

I’ve studied politics. I have a degree in it. This kind of stuff is important to me. So when I’m unmotivated to participate, I know there’s something wrong with the system. Maybe I should be more motivated to make a difference here. Maybe I should move to another part of the country (or outside of it). I’m not sure what the answer is.

When NPR was promoting their quest to find the best teen novels, I followed the coverage, but I didn’t officially cast my vote. I’ve only read 25% of the books that made the top 100. Sure, I could have narrowed down my favorites out of what I’ve read, but it would just be a reflection of my opinions at the moment, rather than a systematic investigation. That’s why I didn’t participate.

In the past, I’ve volunteered to work for my political party, assisting on national and local races. This cycle, I’m feeling rather cynical, and seemed more inclined to read the books I’ve until now neglected from NPR’s list than canvas for politicians I don’t 100% support.

Priorities shift.

I started a page to keep track of the books I’ve read from NPR’s list. I’ve only read 25% of them. Those are bolded, with links to reviews if they appear on this blog. Most are on my to-read list, but precisely because they are well known, I haven’t been in a hurry to read them. Most of what I’ve been reading of YA novels are new releases so I can know what to recommend to library patrons. The books on this list are already on my radar.

Still, most of them are books I believe I should read, most I want to read, and some I’m even embarrassed to admit I have not read yet. So with no firm deadline, I’m going to set about crossing them all off my list. Certain ones I’m prioritizing over others (we’re reading Perks of Being a Wallflower for teen book club in September, so I’ll get to cross that one off) but I’m still interested in which ones you think I should tackle first.

What are your all-time favorite young adult novels? 

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8 thoughts on “On Voting: Primaries and NPR’s Top 100 Teen Novels

  1. I’ve always been fond of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness. But I do have a weakness for secret identities, so that’s probably why. Actually all of her books are fun to read.

  2. I’ve read a good portion of those books, but not nearly all of them, and I’ve re-read several of them recently, including The Giver, Catcher in the Rye (which I still love), and To Kill A Mockingbird (a book that inspired many of us now in the public interest legal world). As for voting, my state has also passed a voter id law that, in my opinion, has the sole purpose of dissuading/preventing certain populations from voting. We’re waiting to see whether the law will be enjoined.

  3. Interesting list! I am ashamed to admit I haven’t read some of those either, let alone heard of some of them. I was disappointed in 13 Reason Why since it was put on a pedestal by my classmates. I re-read Speak in a Children’s Lit class last semester and remember being much more moved when I read it as a teen than now. But Lord of the Flies and A Separate Peace will always be two of my favorites!

      1. Everyone in my class raved about 13 Reasons Why too! I just found the problems to be too superficial for the serious context of the plot. I’m interested to see what you think! And I agree. I feel the same way about The Catcher in the Rye. If I had read it as a teenager, I might have liked it a lot more.

  4. I could gush about so many of these, but I’ll just gush about one (three). I devoured Philip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials, and then recommended or lent it to everyone I could. It was originally recommended to me by a writer I worked with, and it was his favourite series.

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