Today, I thought I'd show you the contents of my bookshelf, just to give you some idea of my reading tastes.
I am possibly the most voracious reader of all time. I haven't gotten into adult fiction yet, and there are some genres and styles I'm less into, but I'm likely to read just about anything I can get my hands on, especially in the YA category. Of course, I don't have the money or shelf space to feed this habit. Therefore, libraries and I are very well-acquainted. But I do want books of my own! What reader doesn't?
So when it comes to getting books, I'm picky. I only add books to my wishlist that I honestly see some real exceptional merit in, and if they don't hold up, I get rid of them. Therefore, my bookshelf is very well-maintained.
Now it's time for the master tour. Keep in mind, these contents change, often. The books are organized alphabetically by author's first name, which will probably change too.
Let's do this half a shelf at a time. Here's the first half-shelf.
OK, so first off we've got the Associated Press Stylebook. That is a relic of my copy editing job at The Paw Print. Seeing as I plan to continue in copy editing, I figured I'd keep the copy. Now that I think about it, I don't know if I was supposed to keep it. I just never... asked and didn't... think.... Um.... moving on.
After that is Beastly by Alex Flynn, who is famous for her modern fairytale retellings. Beastly is a really good modern YA Beauty and the Beast that was made into a movie. The movie wasn't as good as the book. The book is awesome. (4.5 stars)
Then we've got five of the books from Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, an MG/YA series about a spy boy named Alex Rider working for MI6 (the British CIA). There are nine books total. I like the series a lot, especially for Alex's brilliant maneuvers and the cool spy gear. I don't own them all yet. I've got the first three and last two there on my shelf. My favorite is the second, Point Blank. (4.28-star average, downgraded later to 3.56)
After that is the Anthony Horowitz series I'm really into, even more than Alex Rider, The Gatekeepers. I've got all five books there, the fifth of which just came out. The Gatekeepers is a MG/YA horror series, though the last four feel more like fantasy. It's kind of an apocalyptic series, with some mythological basis, and I really like it. I think Nightrise, the third book, is my fave of this series. (4.6-star average)
On to the second half of the first shelf.
The first book there, which you can barely see, is Dracula by Bram Stoker. I won a set of monster books from my local library last summer, which is why I have that, but I kept it because it's a legit classic. I mean, the original vampire novel. Come on. (4 stars)
After that is the complete C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, which I read for the first time in Hawaii the summer before sixth grade. After about the third or fourth book, I stopped understanding what was happening, but I really liked the first three, anyway. Now, being older, I understand and appreciate the brilliance of the entire series, which is a type of children's fantasy very directly correlated with Christian beliefs. I love that stuff. (4.29-star average)
Then we have the entire Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, which, as most of you know, is a YA epic fantasy series centered around dragons. I liked the first book, Eragon, when it came out. When I read the second, I decided Paolini was an unoriginal cheat. By the third, I had written him off completely, mostly because I was jealous of him for being published young. I was about to get rid of my copies of the series when the last book, Inheritance, came out. I know a lot of people are very ticked off by the way the series ended, but that book is what made me keep the series. I love the idea of the power of words (obviously), and his nontraditional ending made me happy.
At the end there, we have Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's Peter and the Starcatchers series. Peter and the Starcatchers is an MG fantasy non-canon prequel to Peter Pan, and it's really legit. The subsequent books didn't hit me as hard, but they're pretty cool too. It's a good set of books. (4.25-star average)
Moving to shelf two, the first half.
Right there up front is the last book from my Peter and the Starcatchers set, after which is the Dear America novel Voyage on the Great Titanic. Now, those of you who know my tastes know that I'm not that into historical fiction. Generally I find it dry and uninteresting. The MG Dear America books have more personality, so I've read a lot of them. Voyage on the Great Titanic was given to me as a gift from a friend, and I kept it because it's a good tragic romance. I imagine it's kind of like the movie Titanic, which I haven't actually seen. (Don't kill me.)
Then we have Erin Hunter's original Warriors series. Another style I don't do well with is animal stories. They drive me nuts, and I'm not even sure why. Warriors, somehow, is different. Part of this is probably because the animals are cats, and I love cats. Another reason is because Warriors is a legit MG epic fantasy story with cool mythology and stuff that fits the way cats actually act and think. I used to own a whole bunch of the spinoff series, which are all really good, but I ran out of room on my bookshelf. So the original series it is! (4.5-star average)
After that is A Little Princess, the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, which I have loved for a very long time. A Little Princess is about a girl in England who goes through a lot of quite tragedy resulting in poverty, among other things. The power behind it is that she has one of the most fantastic imaginations ever. It fascinated me right from the start. (4.5 stars)
I read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky in my AP Lit class senior year of high school, and ended up keeping the book because I really loved it. People get ticky about the ending of this one too, but I love the Christian imagery. (4.5 stars)
Then we've got a very old copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Honestly? I haven't read it, except for selections. In sixth grade, we were required to make a National History Day project, and I wanted mine to have something to do with what I love most, books and writing. So I found a book that had made a difference in history (this one), and wrote a selection of "diary entries" by Stowe. I actually won first place at the county level. Mom bought me this vintage book so I'd have something to reference. Again, I never really read it. But it has personal meaning to me, and I love the fact that it used to belong to an actual old schoolhouse. (4 stars)
After that I have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. This was another book I won from the library in the monster set. Austen's Pride and Prejudice is, of course, a classic that I enjoy. I don't own it in print, but I have it on my Kindle. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies made me a little leery, what with messing with a classic and adding zombies, of all things, but when I read it, I loved it. It's witty and amazing. (4 stars)
Oh! What's that peeking over the edge there?
Oh, that's right. It's my extremely beat up J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Obviously, I had to have this series. J.K. Rowling is my idol, Harry Potter is my favorite series of all time, and very little creates such a fervor in me as these books. It's so beat up because of how many times I have read it in so many different places--also because my cat took a fancy to the cover of that sixth book. I should really be more careful with my books, but I'm one of those people who believes that the more beat up your book is, the more you've enjoyed it. So.... (5-star average)
After that, we have Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. This is actually the first book of a unique YA fantasy romance trilogy, which is as much about the Southern setting as about the actual fantasy and romance. I've read the whole trilogy, and it's good, but doesn't get to me enough that I feel the need to have the entire trilogy. (4.5 stars)
Then we've got my brand new copies of Kate Constable's Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy. I've mentioned this one a couple times recently. This trilogy is the first from the YA category that I ever read. It's an epic fantasy, a little bit different, a little bit younger in the YA area, but very good. I recently tracked it down again, and Mom bought me all the books so I could have these dear mementos of my reading progress. (4.5-star average)
To the third shelf! We're halfway there, y'all.
That first section there is my writing! That's where my novels will go when they are someday published. At the moment, there's some collections in which short works of mine were published: the first collection I was in during fourth grade, then my actual NHS essay, and then a bunch of editions of our high school lit magazine. I was storing these in my diary chest, which also has my photo albums, yearbooks, and scrapbooks, but... uh, I have a lot of diaries. There is literally no more room in my diary chest for anything.
After that is four of the thirteen books from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I used to have all but two, but I ran out of room. Again. So I kept my most favorite books out of the series: The Miserable Mill, which I like because mind control and making fun of optimists; The Austere Academy, which is cool because of more characters and a school; The Hostile Hospital, which is creepy but really cool somehow; and then The End, which wraps it all up and is totally and beautifully amazing. Honestly, A Series of Unfortunate Events is pure brilliance. I'm not sure what genre to say it is, but it has so much brilliant wordplay and a lot of deep meaning once you get to that last book. (4.31-star average)
Then there's Lois Lowry's The Giver Quartet, which begins with one of my favorite books. This is a set of four books, the last of which just came out, which began as being only loosely related, but have become a legitimate MG/YA speculative fiction series. It's kind of in between science fiction, dystopian fiction, and fantasy, and there is so much brilliance and emotion in the books... It's so fascinating, and I can't even explain to you why. It just really makes you think. (4.83-star average, downgraded later to 4.75)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is actually a classic that I didn't much enjoy when I read it as a child. Jo, who is pretty much everyone's favorite, bothers me. So I haven't read it since. The reason I have it right now is that another college student gave it to me as a thank-you gift. I'll have to reread it and see what I think this time. If I'm still not feeling it, out it goes.
I first read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in twelfth grade and then received it as part of my monster set. Frankenstein is a lot different from what popular culture makes of it. It's actually very philosophical and interesting. So I kept that one too. (5 stars)
Then we have two Meg Cabot books, Avalon High and Jinx. I've read a lot of Cabot's books, which are just plain enjoyable and easy-to-read. The reason I bought and kept those two Cabot books is that they're both fantasy novels combining her YA romance style with really cool fantasy concepts. Avalon High is a modern version of the King Arthur story and Jinx is about a teenage witch. (4.5 stars each)
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which I read in my eleventh grade AP Lang class, is actually my favorite classic. It's a legitimate Romantic novel, and that is my age of writing. What I most love about it is the blurred line between reality and fantasy, the symbolism, and the double meanings everywhere. You can almost choose which side of the story to see, and that appeals to me as a professional reality-avoider. (5 stars)
Whew. This half-shelf is taking forever.
OK, we move on into Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which I own in entirety. This is genius stuff right here. I've never read a better, more clever, more amusing, and more thoughtful mythology retelling in my life. For those of you who don't know, Percy Jackson is an MG/YA series taking Greek mythology into the present day. I love how it reflects on storytelling, belief, and life as a whole. (4.7-star average)
More Percy Jackson... and then the first two books in a currently-in-progress spinoff series, The Heroes of Olympus, which throws in a bunch of new characters on the Roman mythology side of things. Again, because of the limited shelf room, I don't know how much I have room for or how long I'll be keeping those two books. But you can bet I'll read the whole series. (4.5-star average)
Then we've got The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, which is interesting, but not as cool as the musical. It's another part of my monster set. I'm not sure how long I'll be keeping this one.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer is another of my favorite books. It's a sci-fi romance, the only adult novel I've read (besides classics), and it is beautiful, thoughtful, philosophical, romantic, and meaningful. A lot of people rag on Meyer for many, many reasons, some of which are legitimate, but I love her writing style. I find it very clear and real and right on par with my thoughts. That plus the depth of the idea in The Host makes this one a must-read. The movie, which recently came out, was also very very good.(5 stars)
Here's the point where I lose my credibility entirely, but the truth is the truth. Yes, I own Meyer's The Twilight Saga. Yes, that does mean I like it. While I do acknowledge and join in everyone's critique-fest of The Twilight Saga, this series gets more flack than it actually deserves. People like to look for something to hate on, and Twilight made itself accessible to this. The fact is I personally see brilliance in this series right along with the less-brilliant. I like Meyer's writing style, which is what got me into Twilight in the first place. On top of that, this is as legitimate of a paranormal romance as any paranormal romance out there. Plus, Meyer and I are both of the Mormon faith, and that means I have a different perspective on these books. There is an awful lot of references to our faith, and I like looking for those.
So, as you all know, Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games Trilogy is my other most favorite series after Harry Potter, and Collins is my other main writing idol after Rowling. I don't feel like I need to explain any further. The Hunger Games is brilliance, and my bookshelf could not be complete without it. (5-star average)
Then we have Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, the first book in a new YA series that I hope will live up to the standards I put to it by getting the first book. Too often, series/trilogies fall short on the second book. However, Unravel Me, just came out, and I think it held up nicely. Shatter Me is about a girl in a dystopian society who can kill by touching people, and it's one of the only books that has ever made me cry. I cried three times while reading it. It's very raw, and the way it's written, with strikethroughs and all, is brilliant. (5 stars)
Veronica Roth's Divergent Trilogy pleasantly surprised me by being one of the only post-Hunger Games YA dystopian series to not fall flat on the second book. This trilogy, which will end this fall with Allegiant, has been in fact quite powerful, with very interesting ideas and plot points and a strong main character of a different kind. (4.5-star average, later downgraded to 3.83)
On the edge there is the beginning of my DVD collection. I'm showing it to you just because, but it's not the important thing for this post.
So under there are four children's books I keep because I want to give them to my kids someday. There's a kid's story collection down at the bottom that my grandma gave me a long time ago, and then The Rocking Horse Christmas, which I keep mostly because the illustrator signed it. Then we've got The Fire Cat, which I liked a lot as a kid, followed by Rules by Cynthia Lord, which is an MG book about the older sister of an autistic boy. It's obvious why I like that. (4 stars)
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