I've always been a big reader, and I've always sort of read within the same genres you see on this blog. The earliest books I can remember choosing on my own were R.L Stine's Goosebumps and the American Girl books. Fantasy, horror, history, and romance. There are a few specific books/series from my childhood/early teens that I want to pay tribute to, because of their marked influence on my current reading habits. I'm sure there are plenty of wonderful books that I read and then forgot about, which is unfortunate. But these are the ones that stuck with me, so they really matter. Here we go, in no particular order (ranking things is not one of my strong suites).
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling: I talked about the awesome nostalgic power of the Harry Potter books in a previous post, but they deserve another brief mention. They were my introduction to full sized novels and the very first time I came across many classic fantasy elements. I feel like I learned a lot from Harry Potter, about following an intricate plot, spotting foreshadowing, keeping track of details, and analyzing complex characters. As an adult, I recognize that it isn't the most original series in the world, but I'll always have a soft spot for it.
The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan: In this historical novel, a young woman named Marnie befriends an outcast, Raver. Everyone thinks he's mad, but it turns out he's simply deaf--and Marnie is the first person to have the compassion and patience to try to communicate with him. I read this book in my very early teens and I've always remembered it as incredibly sweet and romantic. Not to mention hopeful. I think it was one of the first books to make me see the power of happy endings, which is what romance novels are all about.
Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause: This is not one of the happier books I've ever read, but it is incredibly compelling. This was my very first werewolf/shape-shifter book. The heroine, Vivian, is a werewolf who is just coming into her womanhood. She struggles between falling in love with a human, Aiden, who is so very different from her, and giving into her wolf heritage to mate within her pack. That's a dilemma that many shape-shifter books deal with, and in my opinion this little book addresses it as thoroughly and provocatively as you'll ever see.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman: A lot of people seem to forget that this was a book before it was a movie. I read it it all in one day when I had a particularly contagious flu--coincidental, because Goldman's narration features him being read to as a sick child. It's a fun romp of a fairytale in which Buttercup is rescued from marriage to the dastardly Prince Humperdink, and ultimately finds true love. It's one of the most memorable and quotable stories you will ever encounter.
Tithe by Holly Black: This gritty and slightly mad tale is probably what sparked my interest in urban fantasy. Kaye is a changeling, and she rescues Roiben (a fae knight). As Kaye is introduced to the fae world, readers are treated to dark and surreal themes and imagery. I can't help but recall this book whenever I read Seanan McGuire, Karen Marie Moning, or Julie Kagawa. It's set the standard for me when it comes to fairy books.
The Angels Trilogy by Lurlene Mcdaniel: These are what one might call "inspirational" books--not something I read too often, but not something I specifically avoid either. Leah, the heroine, is forced to stay in the hospital by herself. There she meets an Amish family, and forms an attraction to one of their sons--Ethan. Ethan's family and upbringing, and most of all his religion, place him at odds with his growing feelings toward Leah. It's a slightly melancholy, but still uplifting, story about self discovery and making painful choices as you mature.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede: Slightly skewed fairy tales, written for preteen/early teen readers. In starts out with the slightly tomboy-like Princess Cimorene, and continues through her trials and adventures, later following her son. I really enjoyed that concept. It's an excellent set of books if you like slightly humorous fantasy.
Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn: Maybe this isn't technically a young adult, but it's a wonderful book from a really brilliant author. Corie is the illegitimate daughter of a noble lord, and she serves as an apprentice to her healer grandmother. Along the way, Corie follows her uncle on his journey to find the fairy folk. The book is full of romance, drama, court politics, and character development. Sharon Shinn remains one of my favorite fantasy writers.
The Spirit Window by Joyce Sweeney: In this atmospheric story about relationships and personal connections, Miranda visits her grandmother. There she meets Adam, a part Cherokee boy who she quickly falls in love with. I remember this story not just for the youthful spirit of romance that it presents, but also for it's message of reverence toward nature.
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci: In this book, the class outcast and frequent victim of bullying goes missing. The incident makes Torey Adams, a popular guy, look at his friends and his life a lot differently. He tries to solve the case of the missing boy, and along the way transforms into a more mature and somewhat jaded person. I liked this book because it's slightly dark, the story is three dimensional and realistic, and it sparked my interest in suspense novels.
And there it is, my top ten most memorable books from long ago (well, not that long ago). Happy Reading!