If there's anything the writers I know share besides an unhealthy relationship to caffeine, it's a childhood spent immersed in books. All my young adult favorites look more like accordions than novels, because they've been dropped into the bathtub so many times.
They're also seared into my consciousness like few novels I've read since. I used to chalk that up to the impressionability of youth, until I started revisiting those stories and realizing how well they stand up as literature. The ones I continue to love now, a quarter-century after first mauling their spines, tend to confront complex social issues bravely, convey emotions with tremendous, empathetic clarity, and rest on compelling narrative voices. In other words — the very elements that draw me into novels today.