I Read Books I Love, Banned or Not (Mary Strand)

The theme at our YAOTL blog this month is LOVE. Being the sarcastic person I am, though, I want to spell it WUV. As in, TWU WUV.

(If you don’t know which movie that comes from, I don’t know that we can be friends.) (But I digress.) (As I often do.)

Since this is YAOTL, I’m going to write about books I love, especially YA books. This isn’t to say that I don’t love a million other things, such as (in no particular order) my Converse Chucks, my zippy little convertible, my zippy scooter, alfajores, mini M&Ms, Minneapolis bands like the Melismatics and the Belfast Cowboys and Trailer Trash, Chris Hemsworth, Juanes, South Beach in January, playing basketball, skiing in Vail, fruity cocktails, guitars, macarons, whichever great movie I saw most recently (A Little Chaos; highly recommend; thanks for asking), warm sunshine, and, yes, Twu Wuv.

So. YA books I love.

As a reader, I mostly read for comfort, and I won’t apologize for that. (You do you.)

As a YA author, I mostly read either to keep me rock solid in my YA voice or to keep me (at least somewhat) up to date on the other YA books being published right now.

I write fairly light and funny stuff, and I like action, and one or the other (or sometimes both) means that I often reread books by authors including Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson, etc.), Meg Cabot (Avalon High, Teen Idol, etc.), Niki Burnham (Royally Jacked series), Brenda Hiatt (Starstruck series), and Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls series) whenever I’m about to start writing a new YA book.

New-to-me YA books that I read and LOVED in 2021 included To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Red, White & Royally Blue. (Yeah, yeah, two of those were published AGES ago. Dude! I’ve been VERY busy rereading Georgette Heyer’s historical romances! No judgment!)

But everyone’s been talking lately (yet again) about banned books, because there are (unfortunately) TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD people in the world who are ignorant, mean, judgmental, and insecure and who want to make the next generation just like them. Not that I have any opinion about this or anything.

Then I noticed that one of my 2021 reads, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is on the lists of banned books being circulated.

So, being the sort of person who flings herself down rabbit holes for sport, I studied the banned-books lists. Wow. Harry Potter! (People who ban books are morons, seriously, and are probably lousy kissers, too. I would avoid them if I were you.) Here’s just a small sample of banned or challenged YA books that I’ve personally read and LOVED:

            - Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

            - Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher

            - The Outsiders - S. E. Hinton

            - Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson

            - Forever - Judy Blume

            - The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

I also noticed that two of the books I’m about to read have been banned and/or challenged, which only makes them more intriguing:

            - The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

            - Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami

So here’s to reading books you love. Banned, challenged, and/or simply wonderful.

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at marystrand.com.


  1. I can't imagine why some of these books have been banned. The Hate U Give was eye-opening for me. I guess the banners don't want people to have their eyes opened.

    1. I think that's exactly their intent, unfortunately!

  2. I still remember Forever with SUCH fondness...

    1. I actually didn't read it as a teen. (Too busy reading Dostoyevsky!) But I read it as an adult, I think when I'd started reading YA, and loved it.

  3. I confess I didn't get around to reading this month's blogs (so far) until just now. THANK YOU for the mention! And I wholeheartedly agree with your main points here. I wish everyone could simply feel free to read what they love and never worry about what other people read. (Yeah, even what school kids read.) Well said!

    1. Thanks, Brenda! Yeah, even what my own kids read. Who hasn't read books their parents didn't know about? And we all survived.


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