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Loving Every Discovery in “Shelf Discovery.”

June 16, 2010

Shelf Discovery: The Classics We Never Stopped Reading
Lizzie Skurnick
Avon A, 2009. $14.99 448 pages

Lizzie Skurnick was a speaker at BEA, on a panel about the cross-over appeal of YA books. I loved that panel! Libba Bray, Lizzie Skurnick, and others, getting together to talk about what makes YA novels so compelling that we read them over and over, or read new ones as adults.

As she started talking about Shelf Discovery, I knew I had to get my hands on this book! Got it out of the library… and I wish it were my own copy.  I also think it should be reissued as a spiral-bound journal. So the great essays about everything from The Westing Game to the Little House books to Judy Blume, would have a few blank, lined pages in between, for me to write down my own memories.

You can’t read this book without remembering, without thinking about how old you were when you read the book. What color cover it had, where you were, what you thought. It turns out I didn’t remember Danny the Champion of the World until the essay brought up the raisins. Even though I haven’t read anything by Judy Blume in over a decade, wow, even thinking about Sally J. Freedman or, worse yet, Blubber, makes me cringe in sympathy.

Yes… to absolutely nobody’s surprise… I totally had a Harriet the Spy phase, complete with notebook. I remember it most vividly on a trip to Washington D.C. with my parents. I did a bit of skulking around the hotel lobby. It kept me entertained.

Turns out there are a whole bunch of these books I haven’t read- I might be just a little bit younger than Lizzie, and a gap of a few years propelled me towards different books. Who knew Beverly Cleary wrote for teens, about boys and marriage and stuff? And I never read Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume. Or Forever.

I’m just a few essays in, so who knows what I’ll discover as I read on.

Seriously– needs to be reissued as a journal. Because I would feel really weird writing in this, even if I owned my copy. Also, not enough space in the margins.

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