My Notable Reads of the Decade
Fortunately, I've been tracking my reading (somewhat well) the whole decade, so I was able to look back at my reading this decade.
Series are counted as one book for convenience.
Some of these didn't come out this decade, but I read them this decade.
These are either personally meaningful to me, or I just felt did something important
There are a ton of books I haven't gotten to in the past couple years, so don't take Internment not being on the list as a comment on its quality, for example.
Also I did read literary works this decade, but not enough notable ones to fill a list. Just read Kenzaburo Oe's A Personal Matter.
15 Notable YA titles
The Song of the Lioness Quartet
I wish I had read this when I was younger. Alanna would have made me feel so much better about myself if I had understood these gender troubles sooner. This was written decades ago, so some parts of it haven't aged well, but I feel it's still worth reading if you can keep it in mind. If not, read more recent Tortall books, as they're continually being made. We also now have proof Alanna is Genderfluid- https://twitter.com/TamoraPierce/status/1202294877213450240
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This is a beautiful look at queerness for Latinx people in the 80s. The prose is wonderful in general. Don't have a commonplace book next to you when you read this, because you'll do nothing but write quotes down. This one is special to me, because the day I finished it, I stared at the ceiling and came to terms with the fact that going into Anthropology graduate school would make me unhappy, and some other personal problems I have with Anthropology. The book has nothing to do with Anthropology, but something about it gave me the revelation I needed.
The Winternight Trilogy
This is a fun Alanna-like romp through Fantasy-Russia. Russia has really fun folklore, and it's great to see someone do them justice.
The Grief Keeper
This is a queer SF YA novel. I really recommend it because it uses the SF technology as a metaphor for immigrant labor. Don't lie, you know the US would do this if we had the means for the premise.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Erika L. Sánchez
I've talked about this one about this one before. It's a great look at grief and Mental Health in a latinx family.
Odd One Out
Look at my previous post if you want to talk about bisexuality in this book. I know a lot of queer spaces are dominated by white queer people, so a book entirely about queer PoC is important. Some other aspects that are nice about this book is how in touch-with their emotions the men in this book are, and you see some beautiful friendship with the supporting characters.
More Happy Than Not
If you read one currently released Adam Silvera book, please read this one. They're all good, but I resonate the most with this one. It's about being able to change memories, and you will be a crying wreck.
I have mixed feelings about including this book. I'm not sure I want to read it again, because it brings me back to a very depressed time in my life. But when I will eat nothing but bars for days because I don't want to interact with people, I'm reminded of this book and why I need to get up and go into the kitchen. So in that sense, it's very important to me.
The Love And Lies of Rukhsana Ali
Lesbian muslim forcibly outed to her family, and there are consequences. This is a good one because I get the impression a lot of white teenagers don't really get why you can't just come out to your family sometimes. I mean I'm thankful it's no longer associated with a Russian Roulette of being thrown out or conversion therapy, and you get one empty chamber, but that experience is not universal! This is a beautiful book, and I promise it has a happy ending.
I Wish You All the Best
If we weren't to count Alanna because that's information from outside the books, then this book contains the only YA enby protagonist I'm aware of. So for the range of experiences this addition gives us, I think it's clear why I note this, though I of course wish that this wasn't so unique that I had to note it. I hope there are many more nonbinary YA to come.
Gee, how do I describe this book? You don't have to read it linearly. Read the prologue, and then it gives a few options, each of which is different in genre and outcome. And you need to read the whole thing for a complete picture.
The Poet X
I related. I felt so trapped as a teenager, and escaped through theatre and fiction, and just was waiting it out to go to college, because all you can do sometimes is wait it out. I don't “get” poetry, but this has some beautiful poetry, and I hear the audiobook is great, though I read it in physical form, so I assume you can't go wrong.
The Hate U Give
This book is a great discussion of police violence. It's great for introducing Youth to the issue if they're unaware, and it's good for adults too. What I really like about it is you can see how well-planned it is. While we love the idea of books being this fever-dream of one and done draft, it's simply not true, and you can really see it in a book like this whereas other books I can't seem to escape the illusion that it was one seamless draft. Maybe I would realize this with other books if I read through them again and tried to pick it apart, but because I was discussing this book the first time I read it, I was forced to think about it more deeply than I might have otherwise. Without getting into much detail, the book is clearly balanced. Two contrasting father figures, two contrasting lives, two contrasting cops.
Tiny Pretty Things
Sonia Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Coming eventually to Netflix, this is a duology about ballerina dancers that want to be the very best and will let nothing stand in their way. When you read it, you'll learn a lot about racism and eating disorders in ballet, and you'll go through the books fast because you just can't put it down.
I'm not sure this is intended as YA, but I see it on YA lists, so I'm counting it. This is a new take on portal fiction. How do kids deal when they're done with their otherworldly quest and are sent back to their home world? While I will not dispute Tomi Adeyemi's title of “New JK Rowling”, I will say this is the first series to hit notes Harry Potter was supposed to have for me, but never did. Never once did I go “Waiting for my Hogwarts letter! Any day now!” but after finishing the fourth one of these, I was filled with dismay realizing that as a 20-something, I'm too old to get a door to another world.
While awkward, I think it's natural that most of my picks are from the second half of the decade. A decade is a long time, and you're rarely the same person by the end of it. That's part of why I couldn't compile a non-YA list, a lot of the things I have charted reading, I don't think I'd stand by their 4 or 5 stars now, and it may not be the fault of the book, but that I'm a different person now.
See you soon(er than 2029)!