Thursday, January 8, 2015

What To Do With All Those Gift Cards?!

So you got an Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas. Awesome! Throw some glitter! But what to do now? You plan to use them to add some books to your shelves, but have no idea where to start because either (a) you aren't the type that has a wishlist or (b) your wishlist is so long it stresses you out to pick something. Well, no worries my friends! Our fellow book lover, Melissa, is here today to give you some recommendations on how to use those gift cards, especially for all you YA lovers out there. Take a look at what Melissa recommends, and let us know in the comments if you have any other recs for the essential YA enthusiast's bookshelf!  


I am 23 going on 16.

I love Young Adult books with all my heart. They are imaginative, hilarious and, for the most part, clean. Some exclusions may apply, but books for regular adults tend to be raunchy, realistic, and regrettable. In the world of young adults I can be part of an underground resistance, fight dragons, meet royalty, and battle teen angst all with a colorful cover featuring pretty pictures. Here is my list of top Young Adult books I recommend to buy with your Christmas gift cards! 

1. Harry Potter. ALL OF THEM. By J.K. Rowling

I confess that as a real teenager my mom did not let me read these books, so I only entered this fantastical world in college. I have them stashed in a secret closet in my room—much like how Harry was stashed in a cupboard under the stairs. This series has great characters who battle real issues and overcome many things from the aforesaid teen angst to death to dark lords. The females are strong, smart and capable and the men are heroic, humourus and authentic. I cried. I laughed. I rejoiced.

P.S. My mom wants the parents to know that these books do have witchcraft and spells. Reader discretion is advised?

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Teenage boys will probably not appreciate this tale of sisterhood, but a young lady will love it. The March sisters represent all aspects of girlhood/womanhood and go through many emotional journeys that today’s youths still encounter like unrequited love, search for purpose, frustration with silly, selfish people and the kinship that comes from love and family. I also cried during this read.

3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians AND The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Do not be misled by the fact that these books are listed at number three for they are my absolute favorites. The first series targets middle schoolers and the second high schoolers. However, both series have plenty of “scope for imagination” as Anne of Green Gables would say, so buy and read all of them. They deal with the concept of the gods and monsters of mythology being alive and active today. Rick Riordan weaves them in so seamlessly, that while lost in the pages I thought, “This makes perfect sense.” Also, NO LOVE TRIANGLES! Percy, the main character, is my favorite male character ever. Annabeth, his leading lady, proves that girls are a force and have power that no monster should stand against. GOSH. I love these books.

4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Hobbits, friendly wizards, and dragons set the stage for a tale of small heroes with big hearts. Bilbo Baggin's resolution to never quit before the task is accomplished makes him a timeless character and his story continues in The Lord of The Rings trilogy (also recommended). By reading The Hobbit, youths will learn the benefits of leaving their comfort zones, facing their fears and talking to friendly dwarves if you happen to meet them off the beaten path. Win-win-win.

5. Women of the Bible: 52 Bible studies for individuals and groups by Jean E. Syswerda

My mother (to avoid mom twice) bought me this Bible study at an age when I had more zits, giant feet and a sense that mom was totally uncool. As a middle schooler I did not appreciate this study and boy, was I dumb. (Sorry, mom!) I am now doing this study 10 years later with four precious 7th grade girls and we love it! Every week we study a woman of the Bible and go in depth into her story. The study goes chronologically which I like because according to my yopro (young professional) friends, life will never be chronological. This doesn’t really make sense, but they have 401Ks and dental plans so they must know stuff.

ANYWAY, my girls and I love this study because they get to learn about real women, some of whom they have never heard of. I love that by telling their stories, we have discussions about slavery, intimacy, generational sin and the overwhelming love and grace of our God who still chooses to love and use us no matter what choices we make. The Bible does not believe in cover-ups and this study welcomes questions, comments and concerns.

6. Honorable Mentions

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I hope that you have caught my trend that all these books have become or will become movies—except the Bible study, but that also facilitates bonding. Read the books first for goodness’ sake, but then take your youth out for a movie date and talk about the book and the movie. Quality time is second best, next to quiet reading time.

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