Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught YA Fantasy 101

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme by The Broke And The Bookish, and will be a feature on Emma, the Bibliophile-Librarian. In Top Ten Tuesday I make lists of books, because I love books and I love lists. Here at the Bibliophile-Librarian, I cannot guarantee that it will always be posted on a Tuesday, but I will try.

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  1. Stardust by Neil Gaiman: A wonderful, whimsical story with excellent characters, plot, and world building, that explores a teenagers journey from selfishness, to understanding others’ feelings.
  2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling: To me, Harry Potter is the epitome of fantasy, and I think that the Half-Blood Prince is the true YA Harry Potter, because it’s the one book where Harry gets to be a teenager, as Harry and his classmates explore YA themes like dating, friendship, bullying, and understanding and dealing with death and war.
  3. September Girls by Bennett Madison: September Girls is an excellent magical realism story looking at the gender norms forced on men and women. “At a certain point, it’s just time to be a man. Actually, no. Fuck that too. Being a man is bullshit; maybe trying to ‘be a man’ had been the problem all along. At a certain point you just have to trust someone. Even if it’s only yourself.”
  4. Graceling by Kristin Cashore: This is a fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist who actually has to deal with real issues that women face, such as the assumption that she will get married and have children. It is a great YA book because it exposes teens to social issues in a safe fantasy setting. It also has a unique fantasy element, because some children are born with Graces.
  5. The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal: A dark, sometimes disturbing fantasy novel that follows the lives of three wonderful women who are in very different, yet relatable, situations (a queen, a maid, and a slave). The story takes place in the kingdom of Skygghavn in Scandinavia in 1572, showing the trials and tribulations that women went through at that time, and still go through today. It is a story about our roles in society, as well as love, bravery, friendship, and family.
  6. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien: This is a staple fantasy novel, and I would argue that it is perfect for teens to read because the main character, Frodo, is a teen himself.
  7. The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas: This series follows the story of Celaena and Nehemia, who are two complicated, interesting female characters. Celaena the assassin is one of my favourite book characters because she is tough, skilled, and intelligent, but also sensitive and vulnerable – I think it is this combination that makes her a feminist character. There is romance, but the best part of this story is the lovely, realistic friendship between Celaena and Nehemia, who are represented as two strong, smart, influential women.
  8. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr: This fantasy novel about the fairy courts has a beautiful portrayal of a relationship between the main character, Aislinn, and her boyfriend, Seth, and also contains positive sexual depictions, as characters discuss sex and STDs.
  9. The Young Elites by Marie Lu: Within the story of a group of Renaissance superheroes is a wonderful depiction of the evolution of two sisters’ relationship. At the start of the story, the sisters Adeline and Violetta’s relationship has become flawed through the actions of an abusive father. The main character, Adeline, starts to heal on her own, away from Violetta, through training and camaraderie. By the end of the story, both sisters get to know one another, and come to better understand each others childhood experiences. I also loved the setting, Kennettra, which is an alternate version of Renaissance Italy.
  10. A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan: I am putting this book on my YA Fantasy list for the sensitive readers out there. This is a heartbreaking interpretation of Sleeping Beauty, and, although it takes place in the future and contains science fiction elements, I would argue that it relates much more to its fantasy roots.

5 thoughts on “Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught YA Fantasy 101

    1. It’s a really nice edition! The cover is cloth bound and the pages are nice a thick, with chapter illustrations from Charles Vess. Thanks for the comment 🙂

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    1. I especially like TOG once the plot got a bit darker after the first novel. I don’t hear many that have read A Long, Long Sleep either! It’s a book that hit me really hard when I read it. I enjoyed Graceling, but I haven’t read Fire or Bitterblue. You’re list is great, and I haven’t read quite a few of them! The Pure and Unwind series look interesting! I have been wanting to read The Maze Runner for a while, too!

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      1. Yeah, me too. I’d never even heard of it before I picked it up at this book con, but I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it and hopefully I will too. Graceling seems like just the sort of book I would enjoy, so hopefully, if I enjoy that I will read Fire and Bitterblue. Thanks! Yes, both those series are awesome, you should check them out. The Maze Runner is pretty good, not as good as some of the others on this list (in my opinion) but still good. You should definitely watch the movie of that one, it’s awesome.

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