Hi everybody! So this week I traveled back to ye olde elementary school to talk to a group of 6th grade students about blogging (and, of course, books). They’ve just read Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick, and their teacher, the exciting Mrs. P., plans on them having blogs of their own. (Which sounds pretty neat, ’cause BLOGGING.)
Anyway, one of the things their teacher wanted me to talk about is why I love books. To me it’s sort of a fact of life that reading is amazing, and that kids should be encouraged to do it. So it feels a little odd to articulate why I love it, when I’ve loved it for just about as long as I can remember. Still, when I was thinking about this for my presentation, I was like “Why not write a blog post about it?”
I must warn you, though, that this is probably going to be rather rambly and most likely not incredibly organized, due to the fact that it’s Friday and I’m not insanely focused right now.
Sigh. I try. . .sometimes.
AHEM. To continue!
Reading is. . .difficult to explain. It’s not exactly like watching a movie, or going to a concert, or hanging out with friends at a frozen yogurt joint. Reading is like this place inside my mind that can feel quiet and exciting, achy and elating, and captivating in a very black-holey sort of way.
Reading is very complicated, at least, the feelings it can give you are complicated.
One of the best feelings I can ever get from a book is getting to be completely captured by one, when my mind is empty of everything except for what’s in front of me, on the page. It’s like a thick, hazy cloud of happy-book-ness. It’s like being asleep, almost, in that it’s kind of warm and fuzzy and I need to rub my eyes once I surface again. It’s completely losing yourself in an ocean of words.
Only imagine the ocean is made out of puppies and laughter and Florida sunsets and the way your grandmother’s lotion smells.
That’s kind of what reading is like for me. That’s what reading can be.
And that’s just really, really awesome.
>shakes head out happy-book-ness fog<
Not to mention the fact that you are never going to run out of books. There is always more to discover. There is always something new to be tried. I might have run out of Humphrey Bogart movies. >sobs< I might have run out of Halloween candy. >sobs again< But books? Books are never going to fail me.
There’s always something else to love.
(And always more fictional characters to fall in love with, but that’s beside the point.)
Plus, writing is an art—and sometimes you’ll come across a book that’s like looking at a really amazing painting or listening to a fantastic song. There are book forms of Beethoven. Books where, even though the plot and characters may seem more at the forefront of your mind, the writing itself is utterly beautiful and strong. (FYI, if you’ve ever heard of Two Boys Kissing by David Leviathan. . .that’s what it’s like. The writing literally made me want to cry sometimes, it was so heart-achingly wonderful.) There is nothing like getting sucked into a masterpiece, people.
And to return to the subject of how many books there are, they’re all so varied. (Young Adult and children’s books in particular, I think, but that’s just me.) As I’ve mentioned before, there’s the hugely important issue of a lack of diversity (I’m hoping to get a post out soon), but if we’re talking plot, genre, setting, etc., let’s just say. . .wow. If you were to make a patchwork quilt of all the books in the world, you would get something pretty crazy.
Like, out of this world crazy.
There are books like Eleanor & Park. There are books like A Birthday for Francis. There are books like Monster. I could go on forever.
And reading is one of the best ways to connect with anyone, ever. And I don’t just mean when you see someone reading a book you like and something like this happens. (Although that is pretty amazing.) I mean when you’re reading a book, and something happens–a character feels something only you thought you felt. You realize what it was like to be a Jew during the Holocaust. You get to see the life of a slave.
There’s so much you can learn, gather and feel. It’s a way to realize what people went through, and to empathize with humankind. (Here’s a great post on something similar to this.) Honestly, reading seems like one of the most human things a person can do.
And while that’s definitely not all there is to reading, I think it’s a good start.
I hope you all have a great day!
. . .12 days to Christmas. . .12 days to Christmas. . .
Literary Quote of the Day: “When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.” –Desiderius Erasmus
P.S. The kids I were talking to were fabulous. Do you know how many hands went up when I asked them who loved to read? A LOT. If you guys are reading this, you were great. Like, “made my day” great. Good luck with the blogs!
P.P.S. Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela. There’s a really great short documentary about him here.
Hi! So a couple weeks ago I was in NYC for few days. What for? BEA of course!
BEA, a.k.a. Book Expo America, is a yearly convention attended by sales representatives, editors, book buyers, book sellers, and many other people who work in publishing. And, of course, some of my favorite people ever–authors!
BEA has taken place in the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York for the last few years, and this year was no different. I have to say, the Javits Center was kind of overwhelming to walk into. Mostly because it’s huge and I was walking into Book Expo America. So, just a little overwhelming!
So anyway, as I was getting over the entire holy-crap-holy-crap-holy-crap-holy-crap-holy-crap phase (which took a while), we (that is, my parents and I) walked the floor.
Here’s basically what BEA looks like: Everywhere there are booths. Booths, booths, booths. HarperCollins booths, a McSweeney’s booth, Scholastic booths, here a booth, there a booth, everywhere a booth-booth. So yeah, there were A LOT of booths:
There were also a few stages for special presentations, etc. And then there was the Autograph Area, where authors would sign their new books (!!!):
Which, of course, didn’t make me happy at all. You can see some of said authors below!
There were also authors signing in their publishers’ booths, such as. . .
Of course, BEA isn’t just for freaking out about the authors there. Those attending it exchange business cards, talk about work, and, you know, actually DO work–that’s what most of the people there are sent to do! Of course, a lot of the time, people are also finding their friends and catching up.
This might seem kind of obvious, but there is just so much to see at BEA. SO MUCH. The presentations, the authors, the booths. (Which, by the way, I don’t even feel like I should be calling booths. Some of those things are HUGE. They’re like Booths 2.o.) Anyway, it’s A LOT.
Oh, yeah, and then there’s stuff like this:
A truck. Full of books. With penguins all over it.
Which is probably one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. It’s like someone just took everything awesome in this world, mashed it together, waved a magic wand over it and POOF! Book truck!
Also, BEA doesn’t always end when the center closes its doors for the day. Sometimes there are events set up for afterwards, too. One of these was We Are Young: Tumblr Does YA atBEA, a party and reading at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe featuring Eliot Schrefer, Ruth Baron, and. . .Rainbow Rowell! Who, if you’re not sure, is the amazing author who wrote the equally amazing Eleanor & Park. (Which you should go read. Like right now.)
Anyway, Eliot Schrefer was reading from his book Endangered, Ruth Baron was reading from her book Defriended, and Rainbow Rowell was reading from (of course) Eleanor & Park. I didn’t take many pictures, but this is what it looked like from the front door:
We didn’t get to stay for the actual reading, BUT. . .
AND. . .
She was at BEA the next day, signing ARCs of her newest book!*
So those two occurrences made me rather giddy.
Really, probably the best thing about BEA and all the special events that come with it is the fact that so many of the people there actually care about books. No one is going to scoff at you for loving what you love, no one is going to say books are dead, no one is going to say they much prefer video games (I think), etc. For once, it seems like the world thinks books are important, while too often, it appears otherwise.
Remember earlier, when I said authors are some of my favorite people ever? It’s not just authors. It’s all the editors, agents, sales reps, book sellers, book buyers, and everyone else at BEA who help keep the book world moving. And, of course, the readers. The fourth grader engrossed in Percy Jackson at the library. The nurse rereading Great Expectations during his lunch break. The teenager staying up way too late to finish the The Diviners. They help too!
Also, some of these people work largely behind the scenes, and I mean LARGELY. Without a dedicated sales rep, an agent, or a good publicist, a book may never make it to your shelf. So they deserve some credit!
But I digress. The point I’m making is that at BEA, it’s like you’re living in some surreal universe where books are actually given their due, as valuable facets of our world. And that’s pretty freakin’ amazing.
Although, you know, I could be exaggerating. I didspend the last two years of my life trapped in the dismal depths of middle school, after all. (Although I did meet a lot of great people there. . .but again, I digress. I need to stop doing that.)
Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll be making it to BEA next year, but here’s a tip for you: One day each year, it’s open to the public! You’ll have to pay, but still! It’s BEA, after all!
I suppose that about winds it up for this post. That took a while! Everyone have a great Monday! (And don’t tell me that “great Monday” is an oxymoron. There are exceptions!)
*An ARC is an Advance Reader’s Copy, or the nearly-final stage of a book before it’s published. They’re very very close to what the book will be when it’s actually put on the shelves, but they usually have a few typos or maybe a slightly different quote. They’re also called Advance Uncorrected Proofs, Advance Uncorrected Galleys, etc.
Literary Quote of the Day: “We walked silent/to the buses, awed by the power of words.” —How I Discovered Poetry, by Marilyn Nelson