Wednesday, April 1, 2015

An Open Letter to My YA Self + GIVEAWAY


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
After graduating college, you'll be a teacher, and you'll be looking for work. Sadly those honors you had won't make it much easier to find a job. As you're looking and substitute teaching, you'll continue to read a lot of YA because you know that you'll be able to recommend books to students. Some of the contemporary books that you'll love to read and recommend will include but not be limited to:
  • 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
The stories in these books will stay with you for a while, and you'll know that a lot of young girls who aren't necessarily fans of science fiction and dystopia will need to find books that they will like. You'll even meet a sixth grader who will thank you for helping her find Before I Fall because she's over middle grade and ready to discover YA.  

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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  1. Ack! My comment didn't go through. Let me try this again...

    I love that you had such a great connection to Perks! That is one book I wish YA Ginger would have read, but unfortunately I did not discover it until I was almost 30 years old. Thank you so much for participating and I really loved your letter :) xo

    1. Believe it or not, you're the second person to have that happen lately. :( I wonder if there is an issue.

      I wish I would have read it earlier. I think I read it the summer after I finished high school, but I was still in that YA age range.

      You're welcome! I'm so happy I got a chance to participate!

  2. I would tell my YA self not to stress out so much about everything and that it will all work out OK! Also that it's OK to be 100% yourself, and that you don't need to change for anyone!

    1. I agree completely. I was always stressing over silly things in high school, so it would be beneficial to hear that.

      I love all of it, Lori! Great advice!

  3. Oh this is really precious Erin! You're making me want to write my own letter hahaha. Well I write in a lot of journals but that's different. Anyways, it's awesome to see how many books have affected us in our past. I didn't read much contemporary when I was younger, but the books I read then definitely have shaped what I like now :)

    1. OMG! Thank you so much, Val! You're so sweet.

      I need to start writing in journals again. I feel like I'd be good at it.

      I read a few contemporary YA books back in high school, and I wish I had read more just because it's become my favorite genre.

  4. I love this post. And that's amazing that Stephen Chbosky signed your book! I haven't met any of my favourite authors yet, because they don't seem to know about Belgium haha. No worries, though, my time will come!

    I started reading when I was 16. If I could say something to my 16-year-old reading self, it would be to branch out a little instead of buying YA vampire books over and over hahaha. Twilight, L.J. Smith, House of Night, Fallen, Evermore.. it was a lot of the same, and I bought a fair few numbers of duds that way! Although Twilight did spark my love for reading, and I've found some really great reads because of it.

    1. Thank you, Inge. Ginger really put together an amazing blog event, and I'm so glad that I was able to participate.

      I'm sure one day, someone will get to Belgium. :)

      The vampire books were very popular when I was sixteen too, but I somehow became an anti-vampirelit person. I've only read the classics about vampires.

  5. Your post is SO amazing, Erin!! I adored it. I love how you told your YA self that it was okay to like the books you read--and that is so, so important to remember as you get older and start reading more often. And I loved finding out that you weren't excited about your YA Lit class, but you ended up finding a love for reading that genre and that's what led you to now and this blog. I was kind of the same way. I'd been over YA when I was in high school, so I started devouring Nora Roberts and Adult books. It wasn't until I started my blog that I got back into YA, and oh my gosh, I was missing out on SO MUCH.

    So I guess I would tell my YA self not to give up on the genre because there is a whole world of books that have yet to be discovered. :)

    1. Thank you, Holly! You just made me smile from ear to ear with your comment! :)

      I was so worried about including that part because I was totally one of those people who just wanted to read the classics and adult fiction, but that class changed me as a person and I will forever love it.

  6. I would tell my YA self but since I'm still YA, I would tell myself (and occasionally DO tell myself is that: Dear self, you are awesome and screw everyone who thinks anything else.

    I love your post! It's so heart-felt and genuine. I've been a fan of YA and Children's since forever, even before I knew that there's a name to the genre: Young Adult. I actually kinda want to venture into Adult. I feel like my experience would be similar to yours but instead or Adult into YA, it'd be YA into Adult. I've read some Adult or NA books by authors whose YA books I've read (Gayle Forman, V.E Schwab) and I've quite enjoyed them. :)

    Thanks for the giveaway! :D

    1. Fari, I love your advice to yourself! I wish that I could tell myself that more often! :)

      I really enjoy some adult fiction now, but it's got to be just right for me to enjoy it. I have found that my last few adult reads were stiff, which isn't too much fun. I haven't really ventured into NA yet, which is weird because I kind of fall into that age group.

  7. I love that you've been a reader ever since, Erin! I only really got into reading in college (although I had my pretentious-I-only-read-literary-fiction-and-classics phase back in high school). And okay, WAY COOL to have met Stephen Chbosky and have your book signed! This is so glorious (and I'm very envious). And that you had a class for YA lit. I mean, wow, why am I in science? (I love science.) Great letter, Erin!

    1. I know a lot of people who only got into reading in college. There's no shame in that. It's just about finding the right book. :)

      Stephen Chbosky was such a delight both times that I met him. He even remembered me the second time when he was at the movie theater to sign posters. He's definitely as cool as his book.

      And yeah... That class was awesome. I'm so glad that I took it.

  8. What a sweet note!!! I was totally the same way in high school about YA... isn't it funny that when we were actually teenagers, we thought YA was like... beneath us? LOL. Now that I'm an adult it's like "OH I GET IT".
    I loved your letter! So happy for you and all that you've accomplished since high school and I love seeing how much everyone has grown over the years :) It was a lovely letter and of course, glad you discovered YA too ;)

    1. OMG. That's so cool that we were both like that in high school. I just didn't get it, plus the school library never really kept YA. They just had non-fiction, classics, and research materials.

      Thank you, Brittany! Your kind words mean so much! :)

  9. This is a great post! I really do think that teenagers my age really do miss out on the books around us and it saddens me. My school library is filled with books but people would much rather sit on the Ipads and laptops. I hope to carry on reading YA as I get older!

  10. Thank you, Naomi! Ginger created such a wonderful event!

    I know what you mean. I substitute teach, and you can really see the decline in reading as the kids get older. I see middle school kids with books all the time, but by the time they get to high school, it seems like they aren't reading anymore. :(

    I hope you keep reading YA for as long as it interests you, and if you ever find that it doesn't, I'm sure that you'll find something else that you'll love to read.


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