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Ten Novels that Changed My Life Before I Could Drive by Sean Beaudoin (a guest post)

Karen’s Introduction

Oh look, here is Karen meeting Sean Beaudoin
Later in September, Banned Books Week happens.  Banned Books Week is basically a promotional event to remind us that the freedom to read what we decide to read for ourselves in an important and precious right; a right worthy of being defended.  Just last night I sat at a YA author panel where a mother in the audience asked: “But what about the sex?”  And even the panel moderator asked, “Since you write for teens, what is your responsibility to your audience and what do you feel you need to teach teens with your books?”  The thing is, everyone approaches a book differently and takes different things away from it.  When I read It by Stephen King (in the 6th grade by the way), I took it as a powerful reminder of the bonds that people could have and the type of friendships that I wanted to build.  When a friend recently suggested that she didn’t want her teen to read the book because of a gang bang scene, I was stunned:  “What scene are you talking about?”, I asked. I have read It 3 times since the 6th grade and the things that stand out to me are not the things that stand out to my friend.  I would have to read it again to figure out what she was objecting to.
And when we ask, “Do teens even get John Green?” or “Isn’t this book too dark/deep/depressing for teens?”, we underestimate teens and their ability to think, their ability to self select and process what they read.  Sometimes we get unexpected things from the books that we encounter – and that is a good thing.  Below is a list of 10 books that author Sean Beaudoin read in his teens and a powerful reminder that we should give teens more credit then we often do.  You never know what books will have an impact.

Ten Novels that Changed My Life Before I Could Drive
by Sean Beaudoin

1. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut — the greatest YA writer of them all, neck deep in irony and pathos.

2. The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll — So honest I could practically smell the Bronx.
3. The World According to Garp by John Irving — I mainly flipped through for the sex parts, but also remember being pleasantly confounded by The Pension Grillparzer, which is tucked neatly inside.
4. Dune by Frank Herbert — an entire empire, an economic and political system, a messiah, a dozen planets, and a single boy. The depth of this blew me away. I read it at least four times.
5. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand — I briefly fell under the thrall of the ludicrously cartoonish message this book attempted to spackle into the holes of my young ego–namely that nothing but my individual desires mattered. Also, I bought it because the Rush album “2112” is dedicated to the author. Another reason why Neil Pert should play half as many notes per measure.
6. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews — this grim cultural artifact somehow stays with me after all these years.
7. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess — this brilliant meditation on violence and behavioral modification is written in its own barely-comprehensible argot. Until you begin to comprehend it. I felt like a genius as I re-read certain passages and began to unlock the poetry.
8. The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac — far more than On The Road, this slim volume made me postive that I could one day be a writer. And how unbearably cool it would be to be one.
9. Neuromancer by William Gibson — a book that foresaw the Internet a full ten years before the Internet, the mix of Asian-inflected sci fi, tech commerce, and Blade Runner-style apocalyptic doom was startlingly original and well written.
10. Great Jones Street by Don Delillo — hilarious, demented, hip, and oh-so downtown, still one of the great rock novels of all time.
About Sean Beaudoin:
Sean Beaudoin is the author of several books for Teens (and really anyone who likes to read cool books).  These are the books. 

Wise Young Fool was just released.  Here is the book trailer.  Oh look, here is my review.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X23sWj8d4dI]

He also writes cool online things that I think everyone should be reading, like this letter to graduates, these thoughts about self promotion, and this discussion of a fab art project he did with his daughter.  He writes over at The WeeklingsVisit his webpage and follow him on Twitter, but only if you want to read hip, cool, thoughtful commentary and are not opposed to the occassional moments of self promotion.

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