Today, April 16th is Operation Teen Book Drop, in which 8,000 books will be donated to teens in hospitals across the country in celebration of Support Teen Literature Day. You can show your support for Operation TBD '09 by dropping a book from your own library, along with a bookplate you can download from the Readergirlz site, in a public place. Who doesn't have a book that they can spare to spread the love of reading? Find out more about the operation here. (the book I dropped on NJ Transit this am was snatched up immediately!)
Coincidentally I found out about Operation TBD just as I am reading an advance copy of an absolutely fabulous new book that revisits great teen literature: Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stop Reading by Lizzie Skurnick of Jezebel's Fine Lines column. I heart this book so much. There are so many books in here that I loved and still re-read -- my copy of Madeline L'Engle's A Ring of Endless Light is in tatters and don't get me started on her Arm of the Starfish (I think my mom still has the poster I made for that one). Beverly Cleary's Fifteen and Sister of the Bride felt like they were written for me. Sidney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family -- oh how I longed to be part of a Jewish family growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan when I read that entire series. If you grew up reading in the 70s, you will find so many books in here that you loved, and Skurnick's essays Illuminate why we loved them and what we can still learn from them.
But Shelf Discovery is much more than a collection of all the great books teens should read (though it is that and they should). What makes Shelf Discovery unique is that it celebrates the art of re-reading the books we devoured as teens. My husband definitely thinks it's odd when I hunker down with Betsy-Tacy whenever I'm feeling blue (or, I just want to indulge) but as Laura Lippman writes in her foreword to the book: "at night, mind soft and eyes bleary, I am likely to crawl into bed with a beloved book from my youth, something I almost know by heart. The familiar words soothe and relax far better than any over-the-counter sleep aid." And later she writes, "we should not be ashamed of re-reading our favorite books, only of re-reading them thoughtlessly."
What book from your teenage years do you still re-read, or wish that you did? Post a comment and tell me. I have 15 ARCS of Shelf Discovery to give away to 15 people randomly chosen from all comments received by midnight April 17th. Shelf Discovery goes on sale on June 30th, for a taste of the book, check out Skurnick's Fine Lines essays here.
And don't forget to drop a book for Operation TBD and then join the Post-OpParty on the ReaderGirlz blog at 9 pm EST tonight!