As you may know, I love reading books. Right now, I do. The first thing I do when I go to a mall or to a new place is to scout wherever the bookstore is. Sometimes, I buy a book or two. Oftentimes, I don’t (because money is tight, heh), but I always, always walk around the aisles just admiring the ranges of books on the shelves, wondering what stories they have in store for me. Since I started book blogging, I’ve read from fantasy to science fiction, from YA to erotica – hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books, getting to know new characters and learning so much from them.
But if there’s anything I regret, it’s that I didn’t have my contemporary books growing up.
Here’s the thing: I wasn’t ALWAYS the reader. I didn’t seriously start reading books after books until I started my blog, so before that, I only read like 2-5 books a year, most of them James Patterson titles because his titles were the ones my mom bought often (there was Danielle Steel but romance wasn’t really up my alley then). Although I may have looked normal as far as “normal” went back in high school, I had my own demons to face during that time (even if it is hard to believe I actually had troubling and nerve-wracking and horrible moments then), demons that oftentimes appeared at inopportune times of my HS life that left me so confused and lost. I only had myself and my instincts to trust, and honestly, they were days when they weren’t enough, because I’d oftentimes end up second-guessing myself. What I was feeling. How I coped with it. If it was even right to feel the things I felt.
Then I read Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum and… man. It was so amazing. I saw a lot of myself in the main character and how she had similar problems as I had and her insights about it that mirrored mine and how hers shed light even more on the things I was unsure of back then and right now I am thinking: why? Why haven’t I met this character when I was in high school? Where was she when I was trying to find the answers on my own? It was the same with Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, whose character was fat and was dealing with the social problems that went with it, and how I felt I would have appreciated my previous self better if I had someone like Willowdean – fictional or not – to look up to, to make me feel I wasn’t alone.
You may see it pathetic and silly that I am talking about finding strength from fictional characters, but it actually does work wonders, because you know what? Everyone of us has a story. And the stories in these books? They mirror the life and experiences that many of us go through, and just knowing that someone out there wrote it knowing exactly what we were going through, knowing exactly what was going on in our minds, knowing exactly what these things entailed, knowing that there are so many other people out there reading it – maybe relating or maybe understanding us a bit better – well, it’s a fucking relief. I know I would have been less confused, less angry, less negative everything if I had contemporaries like Tell Me Three Things or Dumplin’ growing up. I maybe would have understood myself sooner. Heck, I maybe would have loved myself sooner.
This is why, for me, reading is so important. You don’t just get a quick entertaining story from them, you also get something valuable from it, too. It may be fiction, but it may be based on a real life, a life similar to our own. And contemporaries – being what they are – are so, so important to teens, especially since they are at that phase in their life where everything’s just so confusing. They’re living in a bubble of security one day and then they feel all these feelings and they realize the world is such a big and demanding place after all and you don’t know what you really want to do later down the road. Of course, there is no doubt that there are others who have been lucky and have been surrounded by people who prepared them well for “real life”, but for me and many others, amazing contemporary books like these would probably have made a huge difference. Just a push of encouragement, just reading about someone FEEL the same things exactly as how I feel it, would have lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.
So, push it forward. Encourage reading books – especially contemporary – to everyone you know. At the least, they’ll get an entertaining story out of it. At most, they’ll come out perhaps lighter.
What about you? What are your thoughts about this?
Latest posts by Faye (see all)
- I AM BACK, MINIONS!!!! (plus giveaway) - October 10, 2016
- [Blog tour] + [PH Giveaway] TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum – My first 5 star book in 2016! LEGIT HERE, YO! - January 23, 2016
- YA Contemporary Books: Where Were You While I Was Growing Up? - January 5, 2016