Category Archives: Reading Lists

Some of Steinhart’s Favorite Books

If you are truly lucky, you will one day have the great Jonah Steinhart as a teacher. I, sadly, have not been so fortunate, because I am old. If you do not get a chance to be in his class, do not despair–you can read some of the great books he recommends.

Some of Steinhart’s Favorite Books

(*denotes taught in some Tam High English courses)


Sports:King of the World, David RemnickGame of Shadows, Fainaru-Wada and Williams

Summer of ’49, David Halberstam

Moneyball, Michael Lewis

Boys of Summer, Roger Kahn

Paper Lion, George Plimpton

Pitching in the Promised Land, Aaron Pribble



The Prince, Machiavelli

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail,

     Hunter S. Thompson

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley

War in a TIme of Peace, David Halberstam

Assassin’s Gate, George Packer

The Forever War, Dexter Filkins

Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau

(see also: All the King’s Men and The Fountainhead,

under fiction)



Walden, Henry David Thoreau*

Devil’s Teeth, Susan Casey

Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer


Writing Craft:

The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Mark Twain

On Writing, Stephen King

If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland

Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury



Jazz: America’s Classical Music, Grover Sales

Miles: The Autobiography, Miles Davis

Italian Cinema: Neorealism to Present,

     Peter Bondanella



Business/Finance:Liar’s Poker, Michael LewisThe New New Thing, Michael Lewis

The Big Short, Michael Lewis

Griftopia, Matt Taibbi

The Richest Man in Babylon, George Clason

(see also The Fountainhead under fiction)


The 1960s:

The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe

Dreams Die Hard, David Harris

Dispatches, Michael Herr

The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,

     Hunter S. Thompson



Roughing It, Mark Twain

The Stones of Florence, Mary McCarthy


Generally Awesome Essays:

The Essays of E.B. White

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,

     David Foster Wallace

Naked, David Sedaris

Almost anything by Malcolm Gladwell



In Cold Blood, Truman Capote*

Among the Thugs, Bill Buford



The Price of Privilege, Madeline Levine




Junior High+

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton JusterTreasure Island, Robert Lewis StevensonKidnapped, Robert Lewis Stevenson

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Lewis Stevenson

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Kilkenny, Louis L’Amour

The Sackett Series, Louis L’Amour

Northwest Passage, Kenneth Roberts

The Hobbit, J.R.R. TolkienThe Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. WellsThe Call of the Wild, Jack London

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway*

Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

Ann of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery

Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier

Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain




Early High School+

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. TolkienThe Sea Wolf, Jack LondonThe Three Musketeers, Alexander Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas

Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck*

The Chosen, Chaim Potok*

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger*

The Beach, Alex Garland

The Godfather, Mario Puzo

Once a Runner, John ParkerAnd Then There Were None, Agatha ChristieThe Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,

     Douglas Adams

Casino Royale, Ian Fleming

     (and all subsequent James Bond novels)

The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov

The Stand, Stephen King

The Pelican Brief, John Grisham

Jaws, Peter Benchley

A Separate Peace, John Knowles


Middle High School+

The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler   (and anything else by Raymond Chandler)East of Eden, John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck*

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens*

1984, George Orwell*

The Good Earth, Pearl Buck

Native Son, Richard Wright

Black Boy, Richard Wright

Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut*

Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

     (and anything else by Kurt Vonnegut)

The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka*

Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller*

The Crucible, Arthur Miller*

The Kite Runner, Kahled Hosseini*

The Magus, John Fowles

The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac

On the Road, Jack Kerouac*

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest HemingwayA River Runs Through It, Norman MacLeanThe Monkey Wrench Gang, Edward Abbey

Sula, Toni Morrison*

The Complete Sherlock Holmes,

     Arthur Conan Doyle

Watchmen, Alan Moore (graphic novel)

Maus, Art Spiegelman (graphic novel)

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne

     (short story)

Collected Short Stories, Anton Chekhov

High Fidelity, Nick Hornby

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley*

Selected Tales, Edgar Allen Poe

Siddhartha, Herman Hesse

Don Quixote, Miguel Cervantes

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,

   Ken Kesey*

A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin


Late High School+

Infinite Jest, David Foster WallaceBeloved, Toni MorrisonRabbit, Run, John Updike

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad*

Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway

The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner

All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison*

The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay,

     Michael Chabon

Telegraph Ave, Michael Chabon

Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

Cloud Atlas, David MitchellAbsurdistan; The Russian Debutante’s Handbook; and Super Sad True Love Story,                                             (all three by) Gary ShteyngartCrime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

No Country For Old Men, Cormac McCarthy

All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy

Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner

 (and anything else by Stegner)

The Great Gatsby, F.Scott Fitzgerald*

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers

Portnoy’s Complaint, Phillip Roth

Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides


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Trivia Addict Category: Wild Card (Book List)


Wild Card Book List

Obviously, Wild Card means you can pick ANYTHING you want. But if you need some extra help, here are some of my (Katie’s) favorite books:

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Trivia Addict Category: Entertainment (Book List)


(Things having to do with “the biz,” or just anything that happens to entertain you)


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradburyentertainmentjpg

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

The Gangster of Love by Jessica Hagedorn

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
Reality Boy by A. S. King

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann


Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film by Peter Biskind

Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure ed. Rachel Fershleiser

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William Mann

The Circus Fire by Stewart O’Nan

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Marilyn by Gloria Steinem

33 Artists in 3 Acts by Sarah Thornton

Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System by Sharon Waxman

Shock Value: How A Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror by Jason Zinoman

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Trivia Addict Cateory: Sports (Book List)

Sports Book List

(Anything that gets the body moving counts for this category!)


Pick-up Game: A Full Day of Court edited by Marc Aronsonsports

Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe (soccer)

Call me by my name by John Ed Bradley (football)

Panic by Sharon Draper (dance)

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (baseball)

The Natural by Bernard Malamud (baseball)

Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (basketball)

Game by Walter Dean Myers (basketball)

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick (basketball)
The Berlin Boxing Club by Rob Sharenow (boxing)

Winger by Andrew Smith (rugby)

The Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow (surfing)

Non Fiction:

Open by Andre Agassi (tennis)

In These Girls Hope is a Muscle by Madeline Blais (basketball)

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel Brown (rowing)

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (hiking)

Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina by Michaela DePrince (ballet)
Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton (surfing)

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand (horse racing)

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer (climbing)

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis (baseball)

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall (running)

American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China by Matthew Polly (martial arts)

Pitching in the Promised Landby Aaron Pribble

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts by Joan Ryan (gymnastics)

21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago (baseball–graphic novel)

Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit (walking)

Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed the Town by Warren St. John (soccer)

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed (hiking)

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Trivia Addict Category: Art (Book List)

Art Book List

(Does this book have painting, drawing, writing or even someone who thinks artistic thoughts? Excellent! Almost anything will do!)


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; art by Ellen Forney

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The Art Thief by Noah Carney

The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby; illustrations by Trevor Cooper

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

Fly on the Wall: how one girl saw everything by E. Lockhart

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire; illustrations by Bill Sanderson

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

A Work of Art by Melody Maysonet

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson



Fun Home: a family tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Hyperbole and a Half: unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened by Allie Brosh

Richmond Independent Press: a history of the underground zine scene by Dale M. Brumfield

Banksy: the man behind the wall by Will Ellsworth-Jones

Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera

Tattoo Machine: tall tales, true stories, and my life in ink by Jeff Johnson

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Street Sketchbook: Journeys by Tristan Manc

Understanding Comics by Scott MccLoud

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Trivia Addict Category: Geography (Book List)

Geography Book List

(We’re going broad with this one: anything that happens in a PLACE. Get it? That’s basically anything)


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (series) by Ann Brashares

What is the What: the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers

Every Little Thing in the World by Nina de Gramont

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

Paper Towns by John Green

Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The Paradox of Vertical Flight by Emil Ostrovski

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer Smith

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese


A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

A Walk in the Woods: rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Photo Trekking: a traveling photographer’s guide to capturing moments around the world by Nick Onken

To Timbuktu by Casey Scieszka; art, Steven Weinberg

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

State by State: a panoramic portrait of America  edited by Matt Weiland & Sean Wilsey


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Summer Reading Program: Trivia Addict

June 22nd-August 18th54dc08794fae1.image

You’ve played the addictive game, Trivia Crack, now broaden your summer reading horizons using the same method. Spin the Trivia wheel and land on one of 7 categories. If you land on Art, the next book you read must have some reference (even if it’s only a peripheral one) to art; if you land on geography…well, the next book you read must be located in a place. Any place (we’re not exactly strict about the criteria). We will have lists corresponding to each category if you need some help, otherwise whatever you read is up to you…and the trivia wheel.

You’ll have the chance to answer trivia questions and win prizes throughout the summer.

More details to come, but register to participate here!

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New Books for December!

Stronger Than You Know

by Jolene Perryhspace=2

Published 2014 by Albert Whitman & Company

Hardcover, English. ISBN: 9780807531556

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

After police intervention, fifteen-year-old Joy has finally escaped the trailer where she once lived with her mother and survived years of confinement and abuse. Now living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in a comfortable house, she’s sure she’ll never belong. Wracked by panic attacks, afraid to talk to anyone at her new school, Joy’s got a whole list of reasons why she’s crazy. With immense courage, Joy finds friends and grows closer to her new family. But just when hope is taking hold, she learns she must testify in her mother’s trial. Can she face her old life without losing her way in the new one? Will she ever truly belong in a world that seems too normal to be real?

One Death, Nine Stories

by Marc Aronsonhspace=2

Published 2014 by Candlewick Press (MA)

Hardcover, English. ISBN: 9780763652852

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

How could one teenage boy’s life elicit other kids’ first experiences — even after he dies? Nine interconnected stories from nine top YA writers.

Kev’s the first kid their age to die. And now, even though he’s dead, he’s not really gone. Even now his choices are touching the people he left behind. Ellen Hopkins reveals what two altar boys (and one altar girl) might get up to at the cemetery. Rita Williams-Garcia follows one aimless teen as he finds a new life in his new job — at the mortuary. Will Weaver turns a lens on Kevin’s sister as she collects his surprising effects — and makes good use of them. Here, in nine stories, we meet people who didn’t know Kevin, friends from his childhood, his ex-girlfriend, his best friend, all dealing with the fallout of his death. Being a teenager is a time for all kinds of firsts — first jobs, first loves, first good-byes, firsts that break your heart and awaken your soul. It’s an initiation of sorts, and it can be brutal. But on the other side of it is the rest of your life.

With stories by

Chris Barton

Nora Raleigh Baskin

Marina Budhos

Ellen Hopkins

A.S. King

Torrey Maldonado

Charles R. Smith Jr.

Will Weaver

Rita Williams-Garcia


Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen

by Arin Andrewshspace=2

Published 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Hardcover, English. ISBN: 9781481416757

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning memoir.

We’ve all felt uncomfortable in our own skin at some point, and we’ve all been told that “it’s just a part of growing up.” But for Arin Andrews, it wasn’t a phase that would pass. He had been born in the body of a girl and there seemed to be no relief in sight…

In this revolutionary memoir, Arin details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. In his captivatingly witty, honest voice, Arin reveals the challenges he faced as a girl, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes–both mental and physical–he experienced once his transition began. Arin also writes about the thrill of meeting and dating a young transgender woman named Katie Hill…and the heartache that followed after they broke up.

“Some Assembly Required” is a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina

by Michaela Deprincehspace=2

Published 2014 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Hardcover, English. ISBN: 9780385755115

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

“Michaela is nothing short of a miracle, born to be a ballerina. For every young brown, yellow, and purple dancer, she is an inspiration!” –Misty Copeland, world-renowned ballet dancer

The extraordinary memoir of Michaela DePrince, a young dancer who escaped war-torn Sierra Leone for the rarefied heights of American ballet.

Michaela DePrince was known as girl Number 27 at the orphanage, where she was abandoned at a young age and tormented as a “devil child” for a skin condition that makes her skin appear spotted. But it was at the orphanage that Michaela would find a picture of a beautiful ballerina en pointe that would help change the course of her life.

At the age of four, Michaela was adopted by an American family, who encouraged her love of dancing and enrolled her in classes. She went on to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre and is now the youngest principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has appeared in the ballet documentary “First Position,” as well as on “Dancing with the Stars, Good Morning America,” and “Nightline.”

In this engaging, moving, and unforgettable memoir, Michaela shares her dramatic journey from an orphan in West Africa to becoming one of ballet’s most exciting rising stars.
Elite Bicycle: Portraits of Great Marques, Makers and Designers

by Gerard Brownhspace=2

Published 2013 by VeloPress

Hardcover, English. ISBN: 9781937715083

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

“The Elite Bicycle” brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

In chapters featuring some of cycling’s greatest craftspeople, “The Elite Bicycle” offers up a conversation with the men and women who make the most coveted bicycles. Lavish, oversize photographs and personal interviews invite readers into their workshops to show the melding of old-world craftsmanship with space-age materials in fascinating studios and factories that fabricate superb machines.

“The Elite Bicycle” is both an homage to the bicycle maker and a collector’s piece in its own right, celebrating the stories behind the greatest bicycles and components in the world.

Famous Last Words

by Katie Alender

Published 2014 by Pointhspace=2

Hardcover, English. ISBN: 9780545639972

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Hollywood history, mystery, murder, mayhem, and delicious romance collide in this unputdownable thriller from master storyteller Katie Alender.

Willa is freaking out. It seems like she’s seeing things. Like a dead body in her swimming pool. Frantic messages on her walls. A reflection that is not her own. It’s almost as if someone — or something — is trying to send her a message.

Meanwhile, a killer is stalking Los Angeles — a killer who reenacts famous movie murder scenes. Could Willa’s strange visions have to do with these unsolved murders? Or is she going crazy? And who can she confide in? There’s Marnie, her new friend who may not be totally trustworthy. And there’s Reed, who’s ridiculously handsome and seems to get Willa. There’s also Wyatt, who’s super smart but unhealthily obsessed with the Hollywood Killer.

All Willa knows is, she has to confront the possible-ghost in her house, or she just might lose her mind . . . or her life.

Acclaimed author Katie Alender puts an unforgettable twist on this spine-chilling tale of murder, mystery, mayhem — and the movies.
Laughing at My Nightmare

by Shane Burcawhspace=2

Published 2014 by Roaring Brook Press

Hardcover, English. ISBN: 9781626720077

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

With acerbic wit and a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw’s “Laughing at My Nightmare” describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a “you-only-live-once” perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life threatening disease.


Good Sister

by Jamie Kainhspace=2

Published 2014 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Hardcover, English. ISBN: 9781250047731

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

The Kinsey sisters live in an unconventional world. Their parents are former flower-children who still don’t believe in rules. Their small, Northern California town is filled with free spirits and damaged souls seeking refuge from the real world. Without the anchor of authority, the three girls are adrift and have only each other to rely on.

Rachel is wild. Asha is lost. Sarah, the good sister, is the glue that holds them together. But the forces of a mysterious fate have taken Sarah’s life in a sudden and puzzling accident, sending her already fractured family into a tailspin of grief and confusion. Asha has questions. Rachel has secrets. And Sarah, waking up in the afterlife, must piece together how she got there.

Jamie Kain brings us “The Good Sister,” a stunning debut young adult novel about love in all its joyful, painful, exhilarating manifestations, and about the ties that bind us together, in life and beyond.
Perfectly Good White Boy

by Carrie Mesrobianhspace=2

Published 2014 by Carolrhoda Books

Hardcover, English. ISBN: 9781467734806

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

After losing his virginity to an older girl who dumps him at the end of summer, Sean decides to join the Marines. However, he must first get through his senior year of high school.
Seventeen Ultimate Guide to College: Everything You Need to Know to Walk Onto Campus and Own It!

by Ann Shoket

Published 2014 by Running Press Book Publishers

Paperback, English. ISBN: 9780762451937

Find this book in our catalog.

Jacket Notes:

Starting college can be a totally angst-ridden experience. “Seventeen” offers advice on manuevering life on campus.

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20 YA Literature Heroines (in Response to Flavorwire’s Bonkers List)

The other night I came across a post on the delightful website Flavorwire titled “20 Classic YA Literature Heroines, Ranked.” The post immediately pounced on one of my pet peeves: the inability to understand the difference between “Juvenile” and “Young Adult” literature. It’s not always a clear line, to be sure, and I have been known to take some liberties with what I consider “Young Adult.” That said, my general rule is this: if the protagonist is a teenager and the book would be relatable/interesting to a teen audience (subjective, I know), then it’s YA. It’s by no means a perfect definition and while there are a many other factors to debate and consider, for the purposes of this list, I’m just going to keep it to my definition (mentioned above).

However you define YA, a quick glance at the Flavorwire list should be enough to give you some indication of the difference between Juvenile and Young Adult Literature (Eloise? Pippi Longstocking? I beg to differ). While these ladies could certainly be on a list of heroines of Children’s/Juvenile Literature, the majority of them don’t make sense on a YA list. Hence, I bring you my own list (based only on the YA books I have read. I am sure there are plenty more out there and I would love to hear any suggestions in the comments). One last note, it was hard enough to decide on 20 heroines, I can’t possibly imagine ranking them. So here they are, in alphabetical order:

  1. Alex from The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

  2. Alice from Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

  3. Astrid Jones from Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

  4. Cat from Shine by Lauren Myracle

  5. Door from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

  6. Eleanor from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

  7. Elle from Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

  8. Frankie L. Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart

  9. Hazel Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

  10. Ismae from Grave Mercy by Robin La Fevers

  11. Joi from How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kristen Miller

  12. Judy from Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoski

  13. Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore

  14. Lee Fiora from Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (I know most people don’t consider it YA, but it fits my criteria, so I am going for it). 

  15. Maddie/Julie from Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

  16. Meg Powers from The President’s Daughter by Ellen Emerson White (I love love love this book but what did they do to the cover? I much prefer the original.

  17. Melinda from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

  18. Noa from  Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

  19. Sophie from Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

  20. Yessica from Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum

Honorable Mention (as a sort of anti-hero): Sheenie from Youth in Revolt (she’s a little evil and manipulative, but also pretty hilarious and hard not to love…at least through the eyes of Nick Twisp).

Honorable Mention: Leisel in The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (she’s only 10 when the book ends, so she doesn’t really fit the criteria I agreed to adhere to, but damn if she ain’t a hero).

So, those are my thoughts. Feel free to share if you think I have missed something, gotten something wrong (I’m expecting some hate for not including Katniss and Triss, so don’t be shy) or, even better, you agree with everything I say! 


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