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Final 2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge Check-In

Happy Saturday, everyone! This Saturday is a particularly special Saturday because it’s the day that YALSA’s 2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge concludes! You have until 11:59pm EST tonight to wrap up the last of your reading and listening, and you have until 11:59pm EST on Monday, July 2 to let us know if you’ve finished (or conquered?!) the challenge. At that point, we’ll do our drawing to determine our grand prize winner, who will receive a YALSA tote bag full of 2011 and 2012 YA lit! (If the winner is a teacher or librarian or something similar, he or she will also receive some professional development titles.) We’ll also send everyone their finisher badges and extend invitations to all challenge finishers to submit a reader response that’ll be published on The Hub.

We’re also interested in knowing what you thought of the challenge! Leave us a comment and tell us what your favorite book was, what you enjoyed most about participating, what you’d like us to change for our next reading challenge, or anything else you want us to know. Want to share your thoughts more privately? Email us.

If you’ve finished the challenge by reading 25 books, click through and fill out the following form to let us know. (The information you provide is what we’ll use to send you your Challenge Finisher badge, contact you about your reader’s response, and notify you if you win our grand prize drawing, so pick an email address you actually use!) Do not fill out this form until you have completed the challenge by reading 25 titles.

— Gretchen Kolderup, who’s in between reads again


  1. Welcome back up! I’ve been waiting for my final check-in… since I finished The Scorpio Races, which I thought was brilliant, and is one of my top recs from this challenge. My others are Jasper Jones, The Night Circus, Between Shades of Grey, Beauty Queens, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Okay For Now, Chime, and Ghostopolis. And with that many top recs, it was clearly a really high quality challenge.

    I know YALSA’s American and all, but I guess what I’d still like to see in future challenges is more books from outside of the USA. I know I’m a bit biased, but Australia does have such an incredibly vibrant, high quality YA scene – and I’d like to be exposed more to books outside of Australia and the USA, too.

  2. Penny Johnson Penny Johnson

    Wow, this was fun! I truly did not know if I was going to finish the 25 with everything else that has been going on in my life. I am thrilled to say I finished yesterday!

    Going to ALA Annual and meeting several of these authors was thick gooey icing on this cake!

    I do hope we will do this again next year. My only suggestion for improvement is to post a printable list of all the eligible titles.

    Thanks for the incentive to read these books!

    • Joella Joella

      I agree! The printable list would have been especially helpful!

  3. Library.Lil Library.Lil

    I enjoyed the challenge. My favorites that I hadn’t read prior to the challenge were Okay for Now, Girl of Fire & Thorns, Music Was IT, Lover’s Dictionary, & Ring of Solomon. There were also great books on the list that I had already read.

    My big suggestion for future years is an official list of eligible titles, and I like the idea of it being printable as suggested by Penny above.

    I would also like to see Schneider Family book award and the Stonewall book award winners for this age group included among eligible titles. I realize that they are not specifically YALSA awards, but they are ALA awards for this age group, and it would be nice to recognize the parent organization.

  4. Joella Joella

    There were so many good books on these lists! I don’t often read all that many graphic novels, and my teens loved talking to me about Axe Cop and Bride’s Story in particular. They loved talking about what made a good graphic novel. I had read many books on the list before…so it was fun to challenge myself to read the books I hadn’t gotten around to yet. I think this challenge has helped me be more well-rounded for my readers advisory queries. I hope you all do this again next year!

  5. Yay! You’re back!

    I really enjoyed participating in this challenge. Since the last time I checked in (#10), I’ve read 5 books, bringing my grand total to 33. When I finished the 25 so early, I set a new goal of 35. I didn’t quite get there, but I came close. I am so glad I did the challenge. I knew I would enjoy reading more of the best recent YA lit. I didn’t expect that it would have such an immediate impact on my work. But it has really helped me with Readers Advisory when I work the YA desk! Fun and professional development too! I can’t wait for next year.

    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I would probably never have read this if it weren’t for the challenge.
    Scorpio Races – I knew I loved this book, having read it in February. But I listened to the audio for the challenge and loved it even more, if that is possible. This is one of my favorite books of the year!
    The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
    Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

    I posted a final Challenge update on my blog, complete with reactions to the last 8 titles:

    I don’t recall getting a confirmation when I submitted the form after completing the first 25 titles. I guess if I don’t hear from you early next week, I’ll try again.

  6. I really enjoyed the challenge! I didn’t like every book I read, but I did appreciate how the challenge opened me to new genres and works I would not have otherwise known about.

    I ended up finishing 55 books, and my favorites were:
    Where Things Come Back
    The Scorpio Races
    Okay for Now (audiobook)
    Ready Player One
    Everybody Sees the Ants
    The Talk-Funny Girl
    A Monster Calls

    Like Angela Critics above, I also didn’t get a notification when I filled out the completion form a while ago. Happy to do it again if I have to!

  7. Sara Ray Sara Ray

    As of 11:45 last night, I finished the challenge! I was getting worried there for a bit but was determined to keep reading. Since the last check in I listened to Young Fredle (so cute!!), read Ghostopolis (better than I thought it would be, but not awesome), My Boyfriend is a Monster (cute but don’t think I’ll read the others since they contain different characters), Why We Brok Up (eh, I should have known with Handler, good story but hard to get through!), How Sugar Changed the World (I wanted this to be better read than it was!), listened to Okay for Now (loved, loved, loved it! Maybe it is the librarian geek in me that loves books that have lots to do with libraries!), and Geektastic (some really, really, really good stories-not all of them THAT geeky).

    I appreciate doing the challenge. There are sooo many books I would not have read if it wasn’t for the challenge. There are a couple that I still have checkout that I want to read still. I enjoyed reading other people’s comments. It has helped me pick out and put back books to try. At first I thought the 25 in 3 month limit was a bit much for me but I obviously made it work. I would just ask not to increase the number of books for the next challenge. I’m excited about having another one in the future!!

    My top favorites were A Bride’s Story, Carter’s Big Break, Young Fredle, Okay for Now, and Geektastic.

  8. Charles J. Charles J.

    This was a great experience for me – it made me open books I would never would have bothered to by otherwise. And even if they were less than stellar at times, that knowledge helps me do better RA. As with others, I think a checklist would have been great, as well as possibly including the Teens Top Ten. I also enjoyed the knowledge that other professionals besides me do agree that some award-winning books can still suck.

    I reached my secondary goal of forty books on Friday. Since last checkin I read: Paper Covers Rock, Between Shades of Gray, The Lover’s Dictionary, Where Things Come Back, The Scorpio Races, Curse of the Wendigo, The Marbury Lens, and Shattering Glass. Some of those may have been repeats from before though…

    My Faves:
    The Lover’s Dictionary
    The Girl of Fire and Thorns
    The Scorpio Races
    Okay For Now
    Fever Crumb
    Axe Cop

    I would actually like to read more off the list. Perhaps authors could agree to stop publishing books until I catch up….

  9. Cheryl Gladfelter Cheryl Gladfelter

    I finished 20 books for the challenge. Even though I didn’t make it all the way through, participating showed me that I can fit in a lot more reading than I had been doing. I also took the time to read books that we’re on the challenge that I couldn’t wait to start. If I had stayed the course I would have finished, but than I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to listen to Andy Cohen’s new memoir, Most Talkative, until now, and that book is so hilarious I’m glad I didn’t wait.

    Since I last checked in, I finished: Beauty Queens (loved!!), Geektastic (slow going, but enjoyed most stories), Jasper Jones (really enjoyed), My Boyfriend is a Monster (a reread, I love that whole series), Shattering Glass (read through in one sitting, I could not put that book down!), Ghostopolis (loved!), and Ready Player One (I loved this book so much I clapped when I finished it). I started but didn’t get a chance to finish: Here Lies Bridget, Zahra’s Paradise (so intense and really heartbreaking), and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (I finished this morning and actually really enjoyed it-was my first James Patterson book). I plan on continuing until I hit 25 and then I think I’ll start a new challenge for myself. I enjoyed nearly every book I read and found a bunch of new favorites.

    Several people had the great idea to have a checklist-that would be awesome! I created one myself, but it would be nice to have one that combined all the lists into one easy to find spot.

    Please continue this fun challenge-and next year, I plan to finish!

  10. This challenge was a fun kick in the pants to boost my YA reading. My favorite titles were Infinite Kung Fu, Wheels of Change, Sugar Changed The World, and Everybody Sees The Ants.

    My least favorite title was the audiobook of Chime. The voice and narration grated on me by disc two and the effect never stopped. Nonetheless, an audiobook in my reading mix was a good change of pace.

    Please repeat this next year! Next season? We should all just constantly fulfill group reading lists. The positive energy from the check-ins and comments was a great motivator.

  11. I finished June with 27 books read, and I’m 2/3 through my last audio. I’m very surprised that I finished in time. I think I’ll keep plugging along for the rest of the year.

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