Published on IndieReader Houston's blog, too.
I will be at the TeenBookCon in Houston on Saturday, April 9. I’m on a panel called Guys Write Great Stuff. Well, they do. So do gals. Right now, in YA, there is so much great stuff being written it’s impossible to read it all.
So guys and gals write great stuff but do guys read it? That’s a question a lot of people have been asking in publishing and beyond lately because they’re worried they don’t. They’re worried that guys not reading will cause them to be poor readers later in life. Also, they’re worried they may not read for pleasure at all.
I worry about this, too, because I was one of those guys who did almost miss out on reading. I didn’t read much when I was a kid. I was well into my sixteenth year before I started opening books without being forced to by teachers.
What changed? I read a novel that did things that I never thought a novel could do. It was strange and funny and frightening and smart and wise and it spoke to me. It did. It was a novel called SLAGHTERHOUSE FIVE. But for every boy, and for that matter girl, it will be a different book. The important thing, particularly for boys, since girls seem to find their way to books and reading easier, is that they find THE BOOK. By this, I mean they find a book that they can’t put down, one that overcomes the resistance to books that comes from not reading them. They have to fall in love. One book is all it takes, in most cases, to decide to open another and another.
For me, reading Slaughterhouse Five made me realize I’d been missing out on things. I’d thought until then that reading novels was another task that had to be done for school. At best I thought of it as a distant and formal entertainment, not accessible like TV or movies. When I found out how wrong this was, how novels could speak more intimately and more directly and how I could participate more fully in the story, something changed for me. I saw the world differently. Great books will do that. They will change the way you see the world (maybe a little, maybe a lot) every time you read one.
So books became my entry into new worlds. They became my friends, too, and over the years I still return to many of those friends. Every book that moves you in some way will be a little different, but all will transport you to another world within this one we live in each day. That’s pretty amazing. That’s a little bit of magic in and of itself. You don’t have to become a writer to get great things from books. You just have to become a reader.