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  • August 2012
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Oldies but Goodies: or My Futile Attempt to READ EVERYTHING

I like doing things in chunks. Mostly, because if I’m going to do something hard, I like knowing that it’s not forever. In January, I ate vegan. During February, I tried not to eat out. In March, I tried waking up at 6:00 every day. By April, I was too tired of challenges and decided to take a break.

I often approach reading the same way. I read along a theme, usually for a month, until it stops feeling awesome. This month, I’ve been scoping out “oldies but goodies,” or books that I missed reading when they were new. Yesterday, NPR published a user-generated list of Best Ever Teen Novels, which might help with my task.

The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman

When I finished a more recent book, The Magician King, I needed another emergency dose of high fantasy, stat. Enter The Golden Compass! Lyra Belacqua discovers dangerous secrets whilst (shh!) spying. With her daemon, Pantalaimon, and the help of a would-be bear king, Lyra saves a lot of lives – including her own. Lyra’s world is built upon a Victorian England foundation and then dosed with magic, so the setting is at once an olf-fashioned familiar and deliciously new.

It’s also a movie.

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl is a teen-genius-gone-crime-lord. In his father’s absence and mother’s dementia, Artemis takes it upon himself to steal a ton of fairy gold by kidnapping and ransoming a LEPrechaun – or an elite commander of the Lower Elements Police. Artemis feels like a young Sherlock Holmes. And his counterpart, Holly Short, leads a chorus of lower elements avengers including a snarky satyr, trolls, and goblins. Personally, I like fairies. Since that goes double for complex bad guys and girl-characters who kick butt, Artemis Fowl scored like an American women’s gymnastics team.

The eighth and final book in the series was published just this year, so there’s a lot to enjoy.

Weetzie Bat, by Francesca Lia Block

It’s just another day in 1980’s California (complete with roller skates, fringed vests, and glitter) until Weetzie is granted three wishes by a genie. She uses two of her wishes to get boyfriends for herself and her best friend Dirk, and the rest is a bohemian punk history. At first, the invasion of magic surprised me…I expected more of a retro Gossip Girl than Aladdin. But the breezy, slang-heavy way that Block writes makes anything in Weetzie’s world believable. And when a few trials of love, dating, and living independently bust in, they feel manageable. Weetzie Bat starts like a lighthearted summer read and ends with the feeling that good friends make the world go round.

What “oldies” do you recommend?

Whitney, CLP Teen – Main

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