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Do you mean, “might like?”

Mashable has posted a list of “15 Young-Adult Books Every Adult Should Read.” Ugh in so many directions: first, that “should.” Piss off, it’s summer, and I don’t need some internet page-view generator telling me what I should do when I’m having trouble getting to level 29 of Candy Crush. There are no fifteen books of any stripe that every anybody should read.

Second, the choices: not bad, but weirdly random, with some classics (Weetzie Bat, Monster) mixed in with some less-than-definitive titles by authors who have more significant books (why Laurie Halse Anderson’s Twisted rather than Speak?) and some recent titles that nobody will remember in a couple of years (no examples because I’m nice that way).

Third, the annotations: they’re all cribbed from Amazon. If the author of the list isn’t invested enough to say why the books are so essential, why should I listen to her? Hell, did she even read them? Why should the rest of us?

As a list of “fifteen books for teens that adults might like, too,” it’s fine. But I’m having fun imagining what would happen if Mashable or USA Today or somebody put out a list of “15 Adult Books Every Young Adult Should Read.” Listservs would explode, outraged letters to the editor would ensue, the YA blogosphere would have material for months, gathering comments like lint, mostly along the lines of “This.” Thank God for the Alex Awards.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Elizabeth Law says:

    What struck me about this list (well, besides two things you point out, the *should* read and the fact that the author just cut and pasted Amazon descriptions–which come from the publisher) is that all these titles take themselves very seriously. With one exception, maybe, they are all books I at least admire, if not outright adore, but doesn’t this list feel very, well, heavy? God, people, lighten up! No one is more intense than a teenager, but this is making me realize something. We need a funny title for teens to really break out–a Wimpy Kid equivalent. Then we’ll watch the publishers flock to copy it.

  2. Wow. That’s kind of odd to me that its mashable produced. I agree with what you said, there is certainly no cookie cutter list of books one must read regardless of age or age genre of the book! Thanks for sharing. Love your wit.

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