Tag Archives: shelf discovery

Shelf Discovery Challenge #1: FOREVER by Judy Blume

I am participating in Booking Mama's Shelf Discovery Challenge (discussed here). The challenge requires participants to read six books from Lizzie Skurnick's Shelf Discovery, a book about the classic young adult books we all read growing up.

Blume My first choice was Forever, by Judy Blume, a book I only read, shall we say, selections of when I was growing up. I remember the book being passed around at camp, where we all read the more colorful parts (such as p. 73 – a page number I've always remembered). I used to think that the world was separated into two different group of girls – those who had read Forever, and those who hadn't. When I went to the library last week, I swear I was embarrassed to check it out. I didn't make eye contact with the checkout person, and I felt like I was using a fake ID to buy wine coolers.

Forever is the story of the romance between Katherine and Michael, two high school seniors in New Jersey. It's Katherine's first sexual relationship, and the book is a good introduction to sex for teenagers. Katherine is responsible (though the book takes place pre-AIDS) and approaches her physical relationship maturely, but realistically. This being a Judy Blume book, other topics are tackled too – depression, death of a grandparent, teenage pregnancy.

I guess we all liked Forever in the early 80s because it wasn't gross (like The Joy of Sex), and it wasn't creepy, and it wasn't preachy. It was informative and told in a relatable tone. Reading it now, though, I found it somewhat unfulfilling. Katherine fell "out of love" with Michael pretty easily after a few weeks around a handsome fellow tennis instructor at summer camp, which made their relationship seem a bit dubious. I realize that they were 18 years old, but I never got much of a sense of why they thought they loved each other. Reading it as an adult, I was definitely struck by how young – and relatively self-absorbed – the characters were.

I am curious to see if I will have the same reaction to the other five books I am going to read for the challenge. I am definitely glad to have finally read Forever cover to cover, if for no other reason than my daughters probably will in due course, and I want to know what they're being exposed to. And, maybe, because I feel like one of the cool kids now.

Booking Mama’s Shelf Discovery Challenge

Lizzie I have never entered a blog reading challenge before. I don't like to feel constrained in deciding what I am going to read next, and I don't get to enough books that I feel like I can join challenges that have deadlines and expectations about how many books you have to finish. At any given moment, there are a lot of compelling challenges happening around the book blogosphere, but I just haven't been tempted to join one.

Until now.

Booking Mama is hosting the Shelf DIscovery Challenge, which asks participants to read the collection of essays in Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading - a book by Lizzie Skurnick about the books that changed our lives as teenagers – and to choose six books featured in Shelf Discovery to read over the next six months.

How exciting to revisit some of those YA books that I treasured and dogeared as a young reader in the 70s! (OK, and early 80s). I scanned through the table of contents (I haven't read the book yet, but I do have it thanks to HarperCollins (hi FTC!)), and there are so many to choose from.

Should I read one of the books that I read OVER AND OVER again as a kid, that I have practically memorized? Like Harriet the Spy or The Westing Game or All of a Kind Family? My daughters have been listening to All of a Kind Family on tape in the car, and I swear I can recite what happens in The Westing Game from memory. I think I will add Harriet the Spy to the list – I just bought it for my daughters a few months ago. Maybe we will read it together.

How about the ones about being a teenage girl that I read 30 years ago, but which I don't really remember that well… like The Cat Ate My Jumpsuit or Deenie or Jacob Have I Loved or Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself?

Then there are the really sad ones, like Bridge to Terabithia (which I LOVED), or Island of the Blue Dolphins or Summer of My German Soldier?

Or I could go for the sci-fi books I loved when I read, but which I would never read now? Like A Wrinkle In Time or Ghosts I Have Been?

The rules of the challenge say that I have to choose 6 books now, but I can always revise the list as the challenge goes on. (And, of course, I am not limited to 6!). So, here is my initial list, which I am sure will change after I read Shelf Discovery:

1. The Cat Ate My Jumpsuit, by Paula Danziger (I remember loving this one).

2. Forever, by Judy Blume, which I don't think I ever read all the way through, only the dirty parts at summer camp when the counselors weren't looking.

3. Ghosts I Have Been, by Richard Peck, which I don't think I read.

4. Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson, which I know I read, and which is about twins, and because I don't think I can stomach Bridge to Terabithia.

5. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene, which I never read.


6. Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh.

I am excited for this challenge! Click over to Booking Mama's post to see who else is participating – and consider joining it yourself! (You don't have to have a blog to participate.) You can also follow the tweets at @bookingmama, #shelfdiscovery.

Lizzie Skurnick, Author of SHELF DISCOVERY, on Blog Talk Radio 9/23

If you're reading this blog, chances are you're a reader. (Or you're related to me and read this blog out of obligation). And if you're a reader now, chances are, you were a reader when you were younger. I know I was. (My mom has a lot of pictures of me from when I was about 8-14 years old where I have my nose stuck in a book.) I wish I had kept a list of all of the books I read back then, or even kept all of the books themselves. But I do remember some of them – the Judy Blume books, of course, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe series, and the Madeleine L'Engle books, and so many others that I read and re-read. Collectively, they made a big impression on me back when I was impressionable, and they got me to love reading. Young Adult, or YA, seems to be a much bigger genre now than it was when I was a young adult, but there were still a lot of great books around back then.


Lizzie Skurnick, who writes a column about YA books for the sharply funny blog Jezebel, has written a book called Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading. Amazon calls it a "spastically composed, frequently hilarious omnibus of meditations on
favorite YA novels [which] dwells mostly among the old-school titles from the late '60s
to the early '80s much beloved by now grown-up ladies."

If you want to hear more about Shelf Discovery, Lizzie will be interviewed on Authors on Air on Blog Talk Radio on Wednesday, September 23 at 3 PM EST. If you've never tuned into Blog Talk Radio, it's a channel of talk
shows that you can listen to online or by phone. If you do want to
listen in to the show about Lizzie and Shelf Discovery, you should register for Blog Talk Radio in advance, so that you can call in or write in with a question. Registration is free. Here is more information about Wednesday's show.

I can't wait to read Shelf Discovery and revisit some of my favorite YA books, and I am looking forward to the show.