Dear Erin,I know that it seems like everyone in the world (or at least school) only reads what they have to for school, but don't let that discourage you from reading what you want and when you want. Just because the kids at school don't read doesn't mean that you shouldn't. English is your favorite class, right? Reading is an important task, and it will help you keep an open mind now and into the future. And don't worry if you're not cool. You'll soon find out that you'll meet people who love reading. I'm not telling you who these people will be, but many of them may come to you in college or after. They will help you to learn that you don't have to be ashamed of what you read.
Speaking of being ashamed... you've been on a Nicholas Sparks kick for a while. Like six years! You've been reading practically everything of his since you were in sixth grade when you read A Walk to Remember and The Notebook. Are there even any Nicholas Sparks books left?! It's perfectly okay to read his books, but there are a lot more authors out there. There are even some who write YA, which is something you haven't really read yet. Why don't you give them a try? How about Harry Potter? Remember how you started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in sixth grade? I think it's time to go back. The final book is about to come out, and you've missed so much. Or you know... wait just a few more years... when you finally think you need something to help you overcome your fears and anxiety.
I know you're just about to start your senior year of high school, and with that, you're feeling scared, anxious, and excited all at once. It's a completely normal feeling! Because I'm you from the future, I also know that as of this very moment, you're thinking of studying journalism in school. Something in you will change, and right before your college applications are due, you'll discover that you'd rather teach than try to write informative articles for a living.
Soon, you'll find yourself in college, and studying the classics, but there will be a required course that you won't be too excited for... Young Adult Literature. Remember how I told you to give it a try? Well you'll have to! How are you supposed to take a class on YA, especially when you haven't really read any? (I mean seriously... Didn't you pretty much only read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and a few middle grade books?) Don't be scared. In fact, embrace the change that will happen because you will discover a love for reading that you didn't know you had in you. You'll find out that there's more to get excited about than just getting an A in the class. (Spoiler alert... you get an A, so don't fret about not making the grade.)
Because of this class, and the required reading, you'll end up on Amazon a lot. You'll also meet an amazing author who you read before having to take the class - Stephen Chbosky. He'll sign your book, so keep it close to you at all times! Even though many of the books for class will be science fiction and dystopia, you'll find some contemporary books to read. Some of the amazing contemporary YA and middle grade books that you'll love from your class will be:
- Change of Heart by Shari Mauer
- Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn
- Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
- Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke
- The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
- Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
- Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
- To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
- If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman
- Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
- Panic by Lauren Oliver
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Your life always has and always will be defined by books. You'll be known as the reader or the "Belle" wherever you go, and you'll love it. You might not get approval from your mother all of the time, but she will brag about how much you read, even into your adult years. Keep reading, and don't be afraid to talk about books with others. Some people that you meet in your life's journey will have a lot of things in common with you, and you'll see that there are many YA readers among adults.
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