Reading for the fun of it (aka My Ten Teen Reads)

I remember one of the conversations I had with some friends about how some do not review the books they read. Some of them admit that they’re not that good with writing, while other people said that they didn’t want to feel obligated to think about having to write something, and instead just read the book for fun. Now, being a writer and a talkative person, I never felt the burden of writing reviews for the books I read. Yes, sometimes I don’t review a book, but lately I’ve been enjoying writing notes about the books I read so much that it’s never been a burden for me to write.

Taking a cue from Honey’s latest post, though, I like the tag line of this year’s Teen Read Week: read for the fun of it. While I have always been reading for fun, but sometimes I tend to forget and I put too much pressure on myself when I write a review or finish a book. Looking at my TBR mountain, I know I feel pressured to finish most of it, so I tend to read and read and read and worry about how I can make the mountain smaller (and also finish off my challenges).

Which brings me to my Ten Teen Reads! I don’t know how it connects exactly to what I wrote up there, but I thought I’d also list the books I loved to read as a teen. Note that they’re not exclusively YA because I hardly picked up YA fiction, then. I’m not really sure what kinds of books I used to read then actually. Hrm. Anyway.

  1. This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. I discovered Frank Peretti through my friend Pau during freshman year in high school. She told me about it, but I only got to read it by junior year. When I finished reading it, I didn’t want to give it back because I loved it so much. I loved the storytelling and the story itself, especially the angels and how they get their strength from the praying people. :) The sequel I read when I finally got my own copy of the book and there is this scene that always always makes me cry. These two books pretty much started my love for Peretti.
  2. Eating Fire and Drinking Water by Arlene Chai. I think I read Chai when some blogger friends (back when blogging was really just journaling online) started recommending her. It’s really one of the first few serious novels I read that’s set in the Philippines. I loved Eating Fire and Drinking Water for reasons I really couldn’t point out. I think I would have to revisit this book again to find out.
  3. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Now this is really YA. I got this book when I was feeling stressed from school, and this one saved me from totally exploding. I loved every bit of this novel — I wanted to be Stargirl! This remains to be one of my comfort reads until now. :)
  4. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen. I bought this the same day I got Stargirl. I think I’ve said enough about how much I love this book, and I am really sad that they delayed the showing of the movie here. :(
  5. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I think I first read this in Grade 5, and that’s really before I hit teens. This is one of the classics that I have re-read more than twice. My review says a lot about it already, and I think I need to find a hardcover version of this book so I can preserve it. :D
  6. Invisible Lissa by Natalie Honeycutt. This little gem I found in Book Sale, and I’ve lost count how many times I read this, too. This is one of the best middle grade books I read when I was in high school. So glad I bought it then. :)
  7. The Nickel Plated Beauty by Patricia Beatty. My mom bought me this book, at first this wasn’t really one of those books that I read. However, when I read it, I couldn’t put it down. I loved how all the kids worked hard to get that “nickel-plated beauty”, and I wanted to write a similar story. :P
  8. Best Bet Gazette by Linda Gondosch. This one tickled all my writing fancies. When I was younger, I used to write “newsletters” for distribution, which of course were never printed. I loved this because it involved writing in a newspaper, and there was a serious part in the book, too. :)
  9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Anne Shirley is one of my heroes. I wished I had as much imagination as she did, but alas. I love all the names she thought of (White Way of Delight!), and all her adventures. Finally, a name: Gilbert Blythe. Swoon. ♥
  10. Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. I must not forget the only sci-fi series that I grew up with. I learned of this series from my best friend, and at first I thought it was more of a fantasy series. where the kids have extraordinary powers with no real need for it. To my surprise it wasn’t — it was darker and grittier and it had deer-human-scorpion aliens! I remember scouring the bookstores every month for the new books. It’s just sad I kind of lost interest in it so I haven’t collected all the books. Now I’m on the lookout for the books I don’t have.

And plus one, because I can’t not write this:

  • Sweet Valley series by Francine Pascal. When I was in Grade 3, a classmate brought a curious colorful little book to school. It was my first introduction to Sweet Valley, and reading. I never really got to read Sweet Valley High because my mom didn’t want me reading that (long story), but I loved Sweet Valley Twins, The Unicorn Club and Sweet Valley Junior High. If I had to thank an author for getting me started on reading, it would have to be Francine Pascal (and all her ghost writers). :)

And because of this honorable mention, I must also mention this: the cover for the newest Sweet Valley book, Sweet Valley Confidential is out:

Doesn’t this bring back awesome memories? :) Is it too early to beg for ARCs, if they are releasing them? But either way, I will get this book anyway — should be a fun read. :P

I don’t think I’d be the same person today if it weren’t for the books I read when I was young. So to teens out there: read, read, read! Read whatever you get your hands on! Turn off the TV and computers, pick up a book and read! I promise you it’s going to be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. :)

Retro Friday: Invisible Lissa by Natalie Honeycutt

My shelf post was long…but no, I’m not yet done writing. :P I thought I’d take the time to participate in Angie‘s Retro Fridays, just for kicks.

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

I’ve been meaning to re-read this book for a while, but because I had too many other books to read, I haven’t gotten around to it. I read this one last year and I’ve honestly lost count when I read this book and found comfort in its old and slightly yellowed pages. It’s already out of print, but I’m pretty sure this can be found in bargain bookstores. What book? It’s Invisible Lissa by Natalie Honeycutt.

Invisible Lissa by Natalie HoneycuttIt was around Valentine’s Day that Lissa started feeling invisible…

That’s when she sent out 31 Valentines and only got 8 back. Lissa didn’t have much trouble figuring out who was behind it all – Debra Dobbins. Although Lissa couldn’t stand her, she had to admit Debra had the whole class in her power.

Things started getting worse when Debra started a cheerleader’s squad and Lissa didn’t get in. But the last straw was the FUNCHY Club, Debra’s exclusive lunch group that Lissa’s best friend Katie had the nerve to join. That’s when Lissa decided she was tired of being invisible…and that it was time to show Debra that her days of being queen of the fifth grade were definitely numbered.

I remember spotting this book in one of those small Book Sale branches how many years ago — probably during freshman year in high school? I read a lot of middle grade fiction then, but I know I was reading more of Animorphs back then. I can’t really remember why I got this, except maybe because it was cheap. And I’m glad I got it. :)

I think the main reason why I liked this book so much was because I could relate to Lissa. Like her, I used to give everyone in my class gifts during our yearly Christmas party. Well, okay, not everyone, but all girls in my class since they’re easier to give gifts to. Like Lissa, too, I never got as many gifts as the ones I give out. It never bothered me, really, because I wasn’t spending for my gifts, anyway. It extended outside of the gifts too — I remember writing a retreat letter to everyone in my class. That was tiring. It’s a good thing everyone else felt the need to return a retreat letter if you wrote them one.

Invisible Lissa is a very smart middle grade (or is this kid?) fiction that deals with serious issues that kids experience in school and at home. There’s the normal school work, family issues and most importantly, bullying. I think the great cast of characters really helped that too. Lissa is a flawed but easy to relate to protagonist, and she’s hardly angsty so I know she wasn’t exaggerating any of her emotions. Debra Dobbins is the classic female bully, one who gets people to do the dirty job for her. The other characters were also a delight, from Joel (Lissa’s guy best friend) to Jason (Lissa’s younger brother) to Bernice the class drip and finally to my favorite character, Zack, who seemed like he liked Lissa, but it was never really revealed.

I don’t know how fifth grade is in the US, but I feel that this painted a pretty accurate picture. I liked how Lissa’s problems were resolved, because it didn’t involve any shouting match (does that ever happen in real life?) nor was it very clean cut that everything went in Lissa’s favor. Sure, it did work out for her, but there’s much to say at what could happen next.

I have yet to read this again to see if my opinions of its greatness has changed (seeing as I think I already outgrew middle grade fiction), but as of now, this still remains to be one of my favorite books. :)

Rating: [rating=4]

My copy: paperback bargain copy (P35) from Book Sale

Cover: personal photo
Blurb: back of book