“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” ―John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars
I work in book publishing and I love to read books. This should come as no surprise. Most people who know this about me probably think that I’ve been a book worm my whole life; why else would I seek a position in the book publishing world? That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.
When I was younger I hated reading. You couldn’t pay me enough money to sit down with a book and read just for fun. I would only read if I had to for school. I was much too busy watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Rugrats, Boy Meets World and all the other great shows of the 1990s. Who had time for reading?
Then, in September 1998 something miraculous happened. J.K. Rowling wrote the story of a young boy named Harry Potter. All of a sudden reading had a whole new meaning. It didn’t have to be work; I could read for fun! The Harry Potter series transported me into an imaginary world. In this world, I learned to love and care about the characters. I read these stories and instantly wanted to know more. I locked myself in my room for hours just reading away, exploring the grounds at Hogwarts, and I wasn’t alone. The Harry Potter series is one of the best-selling series in history, with more than 450 million copies sold.
For my generation, books such as Harry Potter made reading cool again. People camped outside of bookstores waiting for the next installment of the series to be released. When the series was made into movies, people camped outside the theater waiting to be first in line for the midnight showing. Reading was fun again, it was a common factor between friends, and it was accepted.
The point is, the excitement and the energy focused around reading YA books still remains. Books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Fault in Our Stars have seen great success mainly because young readers still care about reading. The authors of these books have tapped into the Harry Potter phenomenon and given younger (and older) readers that same excitement about reading that I experienced with Harry. Young people are eager to read—I still do for pleasure, as well as work—and those of us in the publishing world hope that excitement never goes away.
It’s important that we, as adults, hold on to the feeling we got when reading our first epiphany-inducing YA book. It’s that feeling we get when we become so consumed with the story and characters that our whole world can be demolished and then picked up again with just the turn of a page. Publishers want to create that same feeling in everyone who holds one of our books. With the stresses of work and bills and life in general, we sometimes forget to take time for ourselves and relax. Sometimes, we just need to remember the excitement we had when reading a YA book for the first time and channel that into a quiet moment alone with a book. So, ignore your devices, lock yourself in your room—or find a cozy spot under a tree or your favorite coffee shop—and just read. Wherever you choose, just don’t put the book down until the story has ended.