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Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading Paperback – July 21, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (July 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061756350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061756351
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Launched from her regular feature column Fines Lines for Jezebel.com, this spastically composed, frequently hilarious omnibus of meditations on favorite YA novels dwells mostly among the old-school titles from the late '60s to the early '80s much beloved by now grown-up ladies. This was the era, notes the bibliomaniacal Skurnick in her brief introduction, when books for young girls moved from being wholesome and entertaining (e.g., The Secret Garden and the Nancy Drew series) to dealing with real-life, painful issues affecting adolescence as depicted by Beverly Cleary, Lois Duncan, Judy Blume, Madeleine L'Engle and Norma Klein. Skurnick groups her eruptive essays around themes, for example, books that feature a particularly memorable, fun or challenging narrator (e.g., Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy); girls on the verge, such as Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret or danger girls such as Duncan's Daughters of Eve; novels that deal with dying protagonists and other tragedies like child abuse (Willo Davis Roberts's Don't Hurt Laurie!); and, unavoidably, heroines gifted with a paranormal penchant, among other categories. Skurnick is particularly effective at spotlighting an undervalued classic (e.g., Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase) and offers titles featuring troubled boys as well. Her suggestions will prove superhelpful (not to mention wildly entertaining) for educators, librarians and parents. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

frequently hilarious omnibus of meditations on favorite YA novels.... Her suggestions will prove superhelpful (not to mention wildly entertaining) for educators, librarians and parents. (Publishers Weekly)

More About the Author

Lizzie Skurnick is the columnist for Jezebel.com's Fine Lines and the author of ten teen books in the Sweet Valley High, Love Stories and Alias series. Her memoir of teen reading, Shelf Discovery, was dubbed "wildly entertaining" by Publishers Weekly and has been featured in Readers Digest, Time magazine and on Talk of the Nation. Her literary blog, Old Hag, is a Forbes Best of the Web pick. Skurnick is on the board of the National Book Critics Circle and has written on books and culture extensively for the New York Times Book Review, Times Sunday Styles, the LA Times, NPR.org, The Washington Post and many other publications. She lives in Jersey City.

Customer Reviews

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Usually, when I get a book I really like I gobble it up and read it as fast as I can.
C. Lakhani
Or at least make sure she doesn't have a copy of FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC hidden at the bottom of her backpack.
crazycatlady
Shelf Discovery is a great book for anyone who grew up reading YA in the 1970s and 80s.
Lea Kelley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on July 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
Lizzie Skurnick's SHELF DISCOVERY is a collection of essays about re-reading her favorite young adult books. The book grew out of her "Fine Lines" column on Jezebel.com and a life-long passion for young adult literature. It is divided into chapters organized by subject matter with topics ranging from self-sufficiency to the supernatural, and includes essays by other popular authors on books that influenced their adolescent lives.

The teen years are incredibly important for most young readers and writers. A period of rapid physical and emotional growth mixed with a natural curiosity about the world makes for an explosive combination. Reading offers a window into other worlds otherwise inaccessible to young readers, expanding a capacity for empathy and imagination. Books are often the beginning of an education on what it means to be human.

The best essays in SHELF DISCOVERY reflect this passionate engagement with literature both on the page and out in the world. Skurnick writes about her first experiences with her favorite books and about what she has learned from them subsequently as an adult reader. Readers will find many of their favorite titles and authors here, including multiple works by Madeleine L'Engle, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary and Lois Duncan.

The book provides an inclusive sample of literature read by young people, ranging from LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE to THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR. Most of the titles that appear here were published prior to 1990. Each essay is accompanied by a vintage picture of the book's cover, an overview of the book and its themes, and Skurnick's reflections on re-reading the book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. Lakhani on July 28, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am absolutely enjoying this book. Usually, when I get a book I really like I gobble it up and read it as fast as I can. For this book, I love it so much, I'm savoring it - I don't want it to end! So many of the books she mentions, I remember vividly. Others - I didn't even realize that all these years some notion I had - came from one of these books. I only wish that some of the entries were longer. Looking at these books through adult eyes is an interesting concept and thinking these books really brings back that joy in reading I had as a kid.

I'm going to try and encourage my book club to read this book, paired with some of the YA adult classics she talks about. I also wish so many of these books weren't out of print. Time to get away from the kindle and get to the library, I suppose!

Speaking of the kindle - the covers of the books she is writing about show up really well. I actually was pretty amazed at that bit of formatting. What is not good - you cannot really tell when the normal writing begins/ends and when places where she is quoting passages begin/end. It's a little annoying but not insurmountable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on September 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
Shelf Discovery is a charming book of women excited about the books they read as girls, or might well have read as girls (some of the writers have only recently discovered the books they treat). I enjoyed many of the essays collected here, and most of them are by the editor Lizzie Skurnick, but this book is not for me, not really, it is for women. I have read some of the same books she did, but this book shows you what it would be like a read from a female teenage perspective and I am not even invited in.

Ha, what does a male reader do with a book whose very introduction is called "Getting my Period"? The author has been blogging about her old favorites for years, and she has recruited a number of prominent female writers to help her flesh out the world of YA literature. My favorite, Laura Lippman, begins her preface by alluding to her fondness for the "Beany Malone" novels of Lenora Mattingly Weber--that's cool, she's one of my top ten American writers (and thank goodness all of the Beany Malone books are back in print, courtesy of the high-end reprint house Image/Cascade).

Not everyone will enjoy Lizzie's own style which is heavy on the verbs and adjectives and really, really, into enthusiasm. She is continually trying to be amusing, and often succeeds, but I didn't really laugh at her allusions to the "fetish porn" of 19th century writing, the lengthy descriptions of the young heroine's costumes. It was OK, but she's reaching, however, what do I know. I'm only a guy. I came away from the book with a medium sized list of books that sort of sound good that I might look up, and then next I'll go to the Lenora Mattingly Weber website and offer to send my copy of Shelf Discovery to a deserving female reader. See ya!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Gouker on July 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
This isn't what I thought it would be. It is light (very light) recaps of some YA novels in short essay format. Much of the material is making fun of the books, which wasn't what I was looking for, or how I thought the book was advertised. If you've read any of these books, you've already gotten way more out of them than this poor compilation will give you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Florinda on September 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
It's been too long since I've started reading a book within a day or two of buying it, but I couldn't wait to dive into this one. However, let me get a quibble out of the way first: the subtitle of this book, "The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading," is using a very loose interpretation of "teen." There are quite a few books discussed here that feature pre-teen protagonists and are more likely to be shelved as "middle-grade fiction." In fact, quite a few of the book covers pictured are Dell Yearling editions, and my recollection is that those were recommended for ages 8-12; Laurel-Leaf Library was Dell's young-adult line. I had plenty of books from both collections on my shelves back in the day.

Setting that aside, though, Shelf Discovery is a thoroughly enjoyable trip back through the books you may have grown up with - and the ones that helped you grow up - especially if you were growing up during the 1970's and '80's. Lizzie Skurnick has been discussing YA literature, and how it's influenced the women we've become, online for a while; those essays are expanded here, and joined by guest contributions from Laura Lippman, Meg Cabot, Jennifer Weiner, and others. The book is divided into ten genre/thematic sections, including tearjerkers, thrillers, romances, "issues" literature, and the adult, "dirty" books that we really were too young for; the essays themselves are labeled "book reports" or, for less-remembered titles, "extra credit." (By the way, "essays" is too dry a term to describe the writing here, but it fits the form.)

I re-encountered many books that have stayed with me over the years, was reminded of some I'd forgotten, and came across others that I hadn't heard of before.
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