I don't really make any bones about how much I love young adult literature. The problems are often both simpler and more realistic for my life and it is a great area to find strong female role models. There is dialog and action and are not overly angsty.
While it isn't the only thing I read, it does comprise some of the best things I've read and most of the books I reread on a regular basis. So, here is my list in not necessarily a particular order.
1. Tamora Pierce. I have to say that I love pretty much everything she has ever written (White Tiger, I'm looking at you). When she was at World Con in Boston a few years back, I actually brought book 4 of my favorites series for her to sign (I didn't want to inundate her with books). The Keladry books are definitely on the top of my list: strong willed, hard working girl fights bullies and protects people. Also a favorite is Will of the Empress. Daja's story in WotE is lovely and bittersweet, and is gracefully done.
2. Sorcery and Cecelia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot. I love the letter story format, which I think makes this book work really well. It is definitely better than the sequel. It also has a feel of a more active and fanciful Jane Austen.
3. Pride and Prejudice. I decided after getting about halfway through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that I needed to read the original first. It did take me a long time to get through P&P, but it was worth it. I think the beginning is a bit slow, but I love seeing the intelligent lines thrown to the women in the group at a time when it was just not common.
4. Dark Lover by JR Ward. This was the gateway drug that Chris sent me over a year ago as an entry into m/m romance. This one is a straight up m/f paranormal romance. A bit steamy, but the intimate portions of the story are not just added on to give readers a little hot flash in their day. It was good enough that I read 3 or 4 more of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
5. Among the Living, the first Psycop novel by Jordan Castillo Price, is what I would suggest to people looking for to read something in the m/m genre. Many of the m/m stories I've read since reading Dark Lover have been unfortunately heavy on the sex and light on the plot. This is not one of those books. I love that the sexuality of Victory Bayne is just another part of the story and not the one that is most important.
6. A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer. This is two of my favorite genres (and one of the reasons I love the Tamora Pierce books so much too): a coming of age and school story. This one is set in the backdrop of turn of the century mystical Europe. I love how Faris, who is a strong willed and tempermental grows. The story at its essence is about how personal responsibility is the greatest thing anyone can have, but it isn't heavy handed.
7. Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones. This was a book I first remember reading in grade school. I never found the other books in the series until I was an adult, but this one was one that I read and reread growing up. I bought it a few years back, and while it didn't age as well as I had hoped it is still a fun, very quick, read.
8. But We Are Not of Earth is another young adult novel I read while still in grade school. Jean Karl's book was a favorite of mine. Unfortunately this book is out of print and while used copies can be found without too high a price, new copies can be very pricy.
9. PC Hodgell's God Stalk is a book I can blame on my friend Sarah. She introduced me to PC Hodgell and we would bemoan the fact that she finished her dissertation between God Stalk (1983) and Dark of the Moon (1987) and the third book, Seeker's Mask (2000). That was a long time to make us wait, but it was worth it. The story of Jame and the god-ridden world she is in is still fascinating to me.
10. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore. I love his writing. i cannot always read it, but this one was very readable and hilarious! Now Lamb? Lamb I never finished because it was so sacrilegious that I expected lightning to strike me down for enjoying it.
There are plenty of other books I could have added to this list like Where's My Cow? or Tuesday or... well, I'm going to stop now.