Top Ten Authors on My YA Shelf of Shame


I’m participating in The Broke and Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday. This week’s topic: Top 10 Popular Authors I Haven’t Read.

I don’t really believe in “shoulds” or “have to’s” when it comes to reading: there is no single book that I think everyone ought to read. Life is too short to read books you don’t want to read.

But when you’re a professor who teaches in a certain field, your need for expertise is a little different. I’ve never read Walden or Moby Dick, and I think that’s perfectly ok. But then, I’m not an Americanist and don’t teach American Literature courses. When it comes to my field (Restoration and 18th-Century British Literature), I read the books that I was “supposed” to read. It wasn’t always pleasant, but I had a greater purpose for reading–the development of knowledge, expertise. I read like a scholar.

When I taught high school, I read YA because I liked it and because my students were reading it. In my workshop classroom, YA lit was the center of our classroom reading community.

But now, Adolescent Literature is also a field where I need to have expertise, because I teach my department’s only Adolescent Literature course. And the authors (and books) on my YA Shelf of Shame are, well, shameful. For this list, I decided to focus on authors I either haven’t read at all or have only read one book by. One of my reading challenges this year is to read 12 books on my YA Shelf of Shame. As this list proves, I have plenty of options!

1. Markus Zusak

messengerbook thiefgetting the girl fighting ruben wolfe

2. M.T. Anderson

octavian octavian 2 feed

3. Nancy Farmer

house of scorpion ear eye arm sea trolls

4. Jerry Spinelli

stargirl hokey pokey wringer loser milkweed

5. Maureen Johnson

13 little blue envelopes girl at sea name of star suite scarlet bermudez triangle

6. Matt de la Pena

ball don't lie maxican whiteboy the living

7. Andrew Smith

winger marbury lens grasshopper jungle

8. Patricia McCormick

sold cut purple heart never fall down

9. Paulo Bacigalupi

shipbreaker drowned cities zombie baseball beatdown

10. Libba Bray

beauty queens going bovine diviners

And sadly, there are many other authors I could have added: Adam Rapp, Nancy Werlin, Diana Wynne Jones, Megan McCafferty, Donna Jo Napoli, Sharon Draper, Dana Reinhardt, Ned Vizzini, Chris Lynch, even Robert Cormier.

In my defense, I have checked most of these books out multiple times from the library and just haven’t been able to read them for whatever reason. I have tried to read The Book Thief probably a dozen times (including 3 times on audio) and abandoned it every single time. I have no idea what my problem with that book is, but I am determined to power through this year. By December, I am committing to reading at least 12 books featured in this post!

16 responses to “Top Ten Authors on My YA Shelf of Shame”

  1. psst…I have never read a John Green book…The Fault in Our Stars has been on my side table for ages. And there are a couple authors up there I haven’t read either. Even though some of the books would not be a good fit for my middle school library, some would, so I feel like I should get on the ball, too.

    Also, be sure to read Going Bovine–truly amazing.

    • LOL! I saw John Green turning up on a lot of lists for this topic today. He was on my shelf of shame for quite awhile too, but then I finally forced myself to read one of his books and–surprise!–loved it. I’m listening to Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens right now and finding it kind of hilarious, so perhaps I am getting over my Libba Bray block?

  2. I’ve read several Nancy Farmer books, including Sea of Trolls and The Eye, the Ear, and the Arm. I very much enjoyed both of these books–but they are a little like fairy tales, only novel-length, so maybe you have to enjoy that kind of fantasy. I also tried to read The House of Scorpio several times, and it was so depressing, that I just could not stick with it. I thought the other two were fun and funny. I will say, however, that as many times as I recommended both to various students, I never had a student read either one.

    Good luck with your shelf of shame.

  3. […] Maybe I would have liked Getting the Girl more if I had read the first book in the series, Fighting Ruben Wolfe. But I kind of don’t think so. This book does have some similarities with I Am the Messenger, which I loved, but, unlike Ed in Messenger, Cameron isn’t the most interesting character himself, and once again, the love interest is incredibly underwritten. But it counts for The Hub Reading Challenge AND my YA Shelf of Shame challenge! […]

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