Who Doesn’t Love a Good List?: Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

yalsa logoNow that the dust is beginning to settle after this year’s exciting 2014 Youth Media Awards, we can start to dive into some of the other meaty hard work that committees finalize during ALA Midwinter: the YALSA Selected Book & Media Lists. I am one of those people that absolutely love a list. I like to see what I have read (gloat), what I have on hand to read (a little more gloating), and what I have overlooked (panic). I know, you just raised your hand with a “me too!” We tend to run in packs. And like me, it is hard not to see each list as a challenge, moving all those unread titles to the top of our to-read lists.

Leading up to the awards we have all the review journals best-of lists of the recent year and a slew of predictions of which books will walk away from January with shiny new medals. This is always great talk that highlights the past year’s cream of the crop. Still, after each year wraps up, I have to wonder, “which of these titles are going to stand the test of time? What are going to become teen favorites with some staying power?”

That is why I always look forward to seeing what will be on the “Popular Paperbacks” list, because these are the lists that I know are going to be teen favorites, and mostly already are. I know that these will appeal to a wider reading audience than some of the actual award winners, and will be what I use most with in my work with teens at my library. Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (PPYA) booklists and Top Teen are so valuable because:

  • These are the books that appeal to readers of all levels– struggling, reluctant and voracious.
  • These are the books that help build a lifelong love of reading.
  • These are the lists I want to share with friends and co-workers who aren’t necessarily immersed in the YA publishing world. They’re a great way to get started.

With each year’s new lists of particular themes or genres, I take time to review past PPYA lists to be reminded of gems on former year’s themes. When themes get updated, like this years GLBTQ list, it is exciting to see how much new quality work has come out as it builds on previous lists’ fantastic and vetted titles.

In 2011 PPYA started doing a Top Ten from the amalgamation of the year’s lists, and as you do your Hub Reading Challenge, you are going to want to fill in your gaps with some of these titles as I know, like me, there are titles you are asking yourself, “Yeah, why haven’t I read that one already?”

Enjoy these lists. Use these lists. These are some of the best of what’s out there from the last few years, and they’re titles you’ll have fun with– because these are the titles that are really about reading for pleasure.

-Danielle Jones, currently reading Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith