Books I'd Give My Teenage Self

This month’s book chat by BookRat Misty is the Books for Our Younger Selves chat. I responded to her video last month, and really enjoyed participating in that conversation, so I thought I’d do it again. I am the supplier and this is books I’d like to give to my teenage self.

Last week I left a comment on Misty’s channel about how I completely missed young adult literature when I was actually a young adult. I think part of it was that I was in high school in the late 90s, and YA was not near as big then as it is now, though it did exist.  I went directly from what we probably now classify as “middle grade” to adult fiction — reading classics for fun and John Grisham. I went through this huge law enforcement phase in high school, which was reflected in both the novels I read and much of the television I watched. It’s weird to look back on now.

So the young adult literature that I would have given my younger self falls into four categories: Faith, Music, Coming of Age, and Girls can Kick Ass and Take Names, too.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times before that I read Siddhartha at the right time in my life. But before I got there, another good text for me would have been Godless by Pete Hautman, about a kid who is fed up with the religion of his parents and sets out to create a new one that worships the water tower in his town. He learns about how religion kind of ends up with a mind of its own as people bring to it and take from it what they feel is necessary.

I think I also would have liked A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray but I think that that particular book would have reminded me of The Craft, which was this terrible occult movie from my teen years. [whispered] This book is so much better.

This one was an afterthought, and I’m a little ashamed that it was for this category, but Looking for Alaska by John Green. Behind all the pranks, and the bad things that happen in this novel, Pudge is trying to write a paper for his religion class, and it is the things that happen that help him create this composition. I’d leave this to myself with a note saying “Check out YouTube in 2007, and you’ll find the community you already belong to.”

I think as a teen I was very regimented in the way I created music. With the exception of jazz band, not much was created that wasn’t already on the page. I didn’t have original ideas. Or really any creativity to speak of — as I see it now — I could be wrong. Anyway, these are the books that have inspired me as an adult musician, and I would hope they would have inspired me as a teenage musician. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, and Guitar Notes by Mary Amato all take a different approach to music than the one that I experienced. Particularly Guitar Notes and If I Stay have characters who play classical music, and are very good at it, but are not completely fulfilled musically by it. I remember feeling that way about music when I was a teenager. Now I make music on my own terms and have no organized band to speak of, and I enjoy it so much more. I’d like soemthing like that for my younger self.

The book in the coming of age category are not books that I’m really going to talk about. But if I had a time machine and could transport back to the late 90s, I’d hand myself Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle, and Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger with a note that says “Trust me.” I’d probably also hand myself Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky in the hopes that it would become my pocket book instead of Dubliners by James Joyce — in which I only reread one story: “A Painful Case.” It’s so depressing.

I love strong female characters now.  I remember watching Xena as a teenager and loving it — girls who kick ass and take names.  So I probably would have liked some of these titles as well: Graceling by Kristin Cashore — that title is actually on my feature shelf at school right now, since this was same category was the edition of Feature Shelf for this week, but I would have given myself that one, Fire, and Bitterblue. All three women are strong, complex and fallible characters.  And it was really understanding fallibility that I needed as a teen.

That’s a lot of books.  I suppose it’s a good thing I was a reader, right? Thank you, Misty, for this month’s topic. If you haven’t seen her video, go check it out. There’s a link in the description.  If you have comments for me, feel free to leave them here, on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, and all that info is on the end screen and in the description.  If you’re interested in any of the titles I talked about, there’s a link to the blog post for this video that includes a transcript and links to info on the books. I’ll see you tomorrow for Sunday #Bookstack #8. I am the supplier wishing you happy reading.  Don’t forget to be awesome.

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