17 Famous Writers on Their Favorite Young Adult Books
Laura Hillenbrand, Author of Unbroken.
"Come on Seabiscuitby Ralph Moody. When I was eight years old, I bought this battered paperback for a quarter at a neighborhood fair. Enthralled, I read it over and over, until the cover fell off and the pages parted from the spine. I had to hold the book together with a rubber band. The story stayed with me, and many years later, it would inspire me to become an author myself."
Bill O'Leary—The Washington Post/Getty Images
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James Patterson, Author of Along Came a Spider.
"As a kid, Peter Pan was one of a few books that I truly enjoyed. It’s got pirates, fairies, mermaids—what’s not to like? When I was starting to write
Maximum Ride, my first series for kids, I had Mr. Barrie’s
story in the back of my mind."
Brian Harkin—MCT/Getty Images
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Michael Lewis, Author of
“As a kid I lived on a steady diet of The Hardy Boysand Archie comic books, without the slightest sense there was anything better I might be doing with my time.”
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Jesmyn Ward, Author of Men We Reaped.
"When I was around eight or so, I discovered The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley at my local book fair. I charmed one of my cousins into buying it for me, and then I devoured it. The heroine is an illegitimate princess who hunts dragons in an attempt to find some place for herself in her father's kingdom; I loved the book because the heroine is tough, stubborn, and smart, and she takes on a world bent on making her less than she is. I empathized."
Ulf Andersen—Getty Images
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Dave Eggers, Author of A Hologram for the King.
Adèle & Simon
books are, I think, contemporary classics. McClintock's artwork is ridiculously beautiful and because readers are asked to find objects that Simon has lost during various
trips—including turn-of-the-century Paris and the USA—the books reward very close attention."
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Curtis Sittenfeld, Author of
“I've always loved the George and Martha books by James Marshall. These tales of two hippo BFFs are wonderfully irreverent and full of both misbehavior and compassion.”
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Jennifer Weiner, Author of All Fall Down.
"One of the joys of motherhood is getting to re-discover the books I loved as a girl by handing them to—and occasionally forcing them upon—my daughters. Recently, my seven-year-old and I have worked our way through the Little House on the Prairie books. Re-reading them was like curling up in a beloved, cozy blanket. A blanket that made us both hungry. As a girl, I loved the stories of adventure—surviving sickness, blizzards, poor crops and snotty Nellie Olson. As a grown-up, I was surprised at how much of the prose is devoted to the finding, gathering, slaughtering, preparing, and eventual devouring of mass quantities of food. The books remain touching and transporting—if you can get past a desire for maple-syrup candy, cracklings, codfish gravy and cornmeal mush."
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Ann Brashares, author of
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
"The Great Brain, by John D. Fitzgerald. Set in a tiny town in Utah in the late 1890's, The Great Brain series recounts the mischief and miracles wrought by Tom Fitzgerald through the eyes of his ordinary-brained younger brother John. You idolize Tom's brilliance—his schemes make him more powerful and exciting than anybody else—but you can't escape his selfishness or his greed. I think as a kid I appreciated liberation from the regular moral categories."
Matthew Quick, Author of
The Silver Linings Playbook.
“Although I can't recall the title of a single edition, I remember reading and loving many Choose Your Own Adventure novels when I was a kid. The series made you the protagonist and every so many pages you would come to a question. There were options listed and corresponding page numbers. I remember reading each path regardless of my choice, thumbing furiously forward and backward through the maze-like stories. In retrospect, I realize this active-reading process was perhaps my first lesson on story structure.”
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Adelle Waldman, Author of
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
“As a teenager, my favorite author, hands down, was Norma Klein, whom I would describe as Judy Blume for a slightly older set—or Woody Allen for a younger set. Klein wrote wry, psychologically acute novels about the romantic lives of smart New York teenagers. With intelligence and humanity, Klein describes crushes, relationships, sex, breakups and complicated friendships. Equally intriguing to me was the milieu. As someone growing up in the suburbs—who had little to do for fun but go to the mall or the multiplex—the New York Klein described was a revelation: kids took the subway to museums, walked around the Village and saw old movies at art house theaters. I live in New York today, in large part because Norma Klein’s books. She was very prolific until her death in 1989, but for a good taste of her work, try Domestic Arrangements, about a precocious 14-year-old with an eccentric, intellectual family and a steamy love life.”
Ulf Andersen—Getty Images
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Andy Cohen, Author of
The Andy Cohen Diaries.
“I loved the Encyclopedia Brown books. They were about as butch as I got as a young boy (not that they were even in the same league as The Hardy Boys, which I stayed away from). Simple to understand and there was always a shot you could figure out the mystery on your own.”
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Gillian Flynn, Author of
“The Westing Game completely charmed me as a kid: the clever mystery, the complex characters (especially the grownups—who knew they had lives too?) and the nasty, fantastic Tabitha Ruth Wexler. I still read it once a year.”
M. Spencer Green—AP
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Jerry Spinelli, Author of
"When I was 12 I thought breaking a tackle in sandlot football was the hardest thing a person could do. And then I read Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl. It instantly inflated both my worlds. My planet now stretched from the West End of Norristown, PA, to the vast reaches of the Pacific. And the other world—the world of my dreams, my future—swelled to the stars. I remember that I closed the book with a sense of both ending and beginning. He had arrived, he had done it. And I—as if his feat had given me permission—I could launch a voyage of my own. I knew not yet the vessel or the seas, but whatever the destination, I knew I could get there."
Dick Cavett, Author of
"I’m told I began reading at age three. I soon fell deeply in love with Rufus M. (1943) by Eleanor Estes—a children’s author and children’s librarian. I’ve assumed it, and she, were long gone. It pains me to learn that she lived well into my later life and that I could have met her and expressed my delight. Damn.
Among many laugh-out-loud escapades, small boy Rufus plants beans in his garden to contribute to his not-wealthy family’s dinner table. Sadly, in his intrepid enthusiasm, he couldn’t resist going out at night and digging them up to see how they were doing. The book, still in print, is wonderful. It’s for kids, but certainly not only so. Get it."
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Martin Amis, Author of
The Zone of Interest.
"I must have read
Goodnight Moon to my children several thousand times, and I was never bored by it. The book has its own soporific poetry—and it quite often worked."
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