And welcome to my ramblings!
Little about your (mostly) humble blogger: I have been reading and writing for longer than I can remember, and am very passionate about both, so most of what you’ll read here will center on those two areas. That’s not to say that other things won’t sneak in or make guest appearances from time to time, but if you’re a frequent guest or a treasured friend, it’s probably because you’re just as passionate about reading- and creating new things to read- as I am. As I work in a bookstore, that side of things may slide in as well. But, chances are, I’m not going to be talking about fashion design or celebrity gossip (unless it’s a celebrity who’s written a book I’ve dealt with in one way or another), and nothing incendiary or political.
In other words, I know my limits.
I’m a middling eclectic reader; most of what I read can be found in Teen or Young Readers, partly because that’s a lot of what I love, and partly because for over a year now that’s been my job. Even as I’m shifting into a new position at work, I don’t think I’ll ever lose my love for those sections. It isn’t just the books. Like any section, they have their good books and their bad books, the meh books, the books that make me want to use them as a coaster and the books that make me want to give a copy to every person I’ve ever met just so they’ll read this amazing, astounding, and so many other adjectives book. I don’t think that piece changes no matter what part of the bookstore you’re in. What does change, though, is the feeling that comes with putting a book in a kid’s hand. It’s different when you show an adult to a book, or give them recommendations, regardless of whether they love books or hate them and are only there looking for a required text for class.
With kids, it’s almost all or nothing. They are either completely indifferent to the book being handed them- in which case it’s probably either for school or it’s one their parents think they’ll love- or they’re so excited that they’ll just jump up and down holding the book to their chest. (chests? or should it be his/her…) Give a kid the right book, and it can literally change their lives, because it can take kids who are reading and turn them into kids who are readers, and that makes all the difference in the world. Kids are who readers WANT to read, and they come looking for more. It can be hard to keep up with, but it’s amazing. They’ve gotten hooked by Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, and now they want more. Where do you send them? What do you give them? And then they come back, again and again, and then it’s not just the kids who are asking; then the parents start asking, and then the teachers, and new books start moving into the classrooms that get both students and teachers excited about units. Get a kid hooked on reading at a young age and chances are, they’ll be readers all their lives.
And then, a number of them become writers as well. The kids who want to go beyond the story into the rest of the world, the kids who think ‘what if?’ and rework the story many times over just to play it out against each question, the kids who script out make-believe with the neighbors and troll through the entire neighborhood with magic staves of bamboo and an entire lexicon of “speech” for the boy playing a velociraptor. (Not just me and my friends, right?) The kids who
grow up become writers are the ones giving us the new stuff to feed our addictions. They’re the ones giving us the new stories, the new worlds. They’re the break-out debut authors, they’re the ones who create the series that kill us a little with each new book because we’re going to have to wait a whole (fill in the blank here, unless its Song of Ice and Fire, in which case…well, just leave a question mark) until the next one.
So you’ll see a fair number of reviews about YA books, and some MG books, or thoughts on a series or an author that can usually be found in those sections. It’s also most of what I write, so you’ll see the thoughts from that perspective as well. The writing process will pop up fairly frequently, and I’m sure there’ll be more than a few flashes of frustration ( I think it’s impossible to be an artist of any sort without occassional fits of hysterics).
I’ll leave you with one last thought, and a question:
I started reading at a young age and always loved books, but I remember the book that actually made a reader. It was an open house in fifth grade, and before all the meet-the-teacher stuff, there was a bookfair in the media center. I noticed that one book got picked up by a lot of people, but then put down again. Every single time. Me being me, I got curious and went over to take a look. It was called Martin the Warrior, by Brian Jacques, and that particular paperback edition had a mouse on the cover. Not just any mouse, but a mouse holding a sword and wearing a yellow shirt and purple tunic. Looking at the front cover, I could kind of understand why the book kept getting replaced on the table. But I read the back anyway, and decided to give it a try.
I read straight through the open house, through dinner, through the rest of the evening, and when my mom sent me up to bed, I hid under the covers with a flashlight so I could keep reading. (My mother swears she knew what I was up to, and that she let me be because it wasn’t a school night. Hmm…) Around two in the morning, she’s downstairs at the kitchen table with coffee and a crossword, and I come stumbling down the stairs BAWLING MY EYES OUT. She asks if I’m sick, if I’m hurt, if I had a nightmare, and all I can do is sob and talk about one of the characters. When I could finally make her understand what I was talking about, she started laughing so hard she near broke the chair.
But in (at that point) seven years of reading, I had NEVER felt so deeply about a story and a character that I actually cared about what happened. Usually it was curiosity that carried me through to the end of a book, or the conviction that having started a thing I really should finish it, but this one…I CARED. And from that point on, I looked for the books that made me care. Brian Jacques passed away earlier this month, which is a great loss for all his fans, but sitting on my shelf is every single one of his books, collected over the years from that first book fair in fifth grade, because he was the one that made me realize how much I was missing. That was the book that made me a reader.
What was it for you?
Until next time-