1. CHOCOLATE WAR by Cormier. Does it get any better than this? I have read this book so many times for my YA class. I think I am safe in saying that it will always be required reading for my course. After 18 years, it is one of the few titles that remains a constant.
2. FREEWILL by Lynch. Second person narrative. Blew me away. This guy gets better with EACH and EVERY book (Inexcusable should have won something, too). It was one of the few books I read a second time because it demanded it of me as a reader.
3. HARRIS AND ME by Paulsen. Anything by Gary is a good idea. However, this one made me spit milk though my nose. He just nails the humor in this one. It is also my favorite book to booktalk to kids.
4. GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER by Crowe. Outstanding example of how nonfiction can move readers. Chris' passion shines through even in his dispassionate rendering of the events.
5. ON THE FRINGE edited by Gallo. Any of Don's collections would be a no-brainer, but this one has so much in it to recommend to readers. Chris Crutcher's story at the end just breaks my heart.
6. STUCK IN NEUTRAL by Terry Trueman. What an incredible voice this author has to say nothing of Shawn as the narrator. Trueman changed the landscape with this premiere novel.
7. LUNA by Peters. Her honesty as an author is incredible, However, this one goes on the list because of how much this book has changed the liives of readers I know. Haunting and lyrical and demanding and uncompromising.
8. IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL by Harris. Sex, sex, sex. I have lived through the challenges to this book in my own community library system, in my own classes, too. It is the book that has helped me survive the "talk" with my grandkids. They love the book, too.
9. WEETZIE BAT by Block. Though I now use BOY MEETS BOY as my example of magical realism, Block brought this genre to the YA realm. I recall reading the book and thinking, "WTF?"
10. SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson. Funny and stunningly serious at turns. Ditto YOU DON'T KNOW ME by Klass.
Honorable mentions galore, but I am not going there. I have some books from each decade (save the late 60s) of YA, fiction and nonfiction, different genres (absent is poetry and I toyed with GOD WENT TO BEAUTY SCHOOL) though heavy on realistic fiction. I know I am leaving a few titles off. How about Top 100????