It's amazing what a good list can do. Make you think, make you—meaning me—feel old (because nostalgia and all that), but also introduce you to new things.
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) puts out several lists of recommended books each year. All are worth checking, but this year, the one that really caught my attention was the Outstanding Books for the College Bound list.
In the past, I have to admit, this is the list I paid the least attention to. But this year's list includes so many of my favorite books from the past few years (like Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series, Quiet by Susan Cain, and especially Spillover by David Quammen, which tops my personal Favorite Books Published Recently list, hands down) that I seriously want to go and read everything else on the 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound list that I haven't yet read.
According to the list's introduction, "the 2014 list is designed to mirror academic disciplines. It is divided into five categories: Arts and Humanities, History and Cultures, Literature and Languages, Science and Technology, and Social Sciences." And while it does include books college students have been assigned to read, such as Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the purpose of the list is not to mimic college reading lists, but to encourage teens to "broaden your horizons and deepen your understandings, whether you are preparing for college or looking to expand your learning in other ways."
A number of books on the Outstanding Books for the College Bound list have been reviewed here at Guys Lit Wire, which will give you an idea of the breadth of the list:
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (History and Culture)
- The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum (Science and Technology), which received the American Experience treatment from PBS; also, I love Blum's blog at Wired
- Going Bovine by Libba Bray (Literature and Language Arts)
- How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown (Science and Technology)
- Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (Social Sciences)
- The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Table of Periodic Elements by Sam Kean (Science and Technology)
- The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan (Literature and Language Arts)
- The Other Wes Moore: One Name: Two Fates by Wes Moore (Social Sciences)
- The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness (Science and Technology)
- Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick (Science and Technology)
- Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman (Literature and Language Arts)
- Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen (Science and Technology), and yes, I am linking to it again
- Boy 21 by Matthew Quick (Arts and Humanities)
- The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss (History and Culture)
- The Unlikely Disciple: a Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose (Arts and Humanities)
- Nothing by Janne Teller (Literature and Language Arts)
- Pluto Vol. 1-8 by Naoki Urasawa, Osamu Tezuka, and others (Science and Technology)
- Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life by Marcus Wohlsen (Science and Technology)
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