I was cleaning my bookshelf the other day and I found something.
And you know you all have one.
A book that’s missing it’s cover and all of chapter nineteen.
Because you’ve read it so many times.
And it’s not War and Peace we’re talking about.
It’s the book that embarrasses you. That trashy novel sandwiched amongst the Jane Eyre’s, the tomes of Dostoevsky, the Herman Melville. You placed it there in the hopes of great literature elevating the commercialism of the tiny paperback squished in between them.
Okay, not really. It’s hidden there because not one person has touched that collection of Shakespeare since sophomore year of college.
So no one will notice it.
The embarrassing book.
I found mine last week and immediately sat on my rump and started reading. I thought this experience might be different. I thought I would have a different perspective. A more mature perspective. I’m so different from the person who once loved this book.
I read it in one sitting.
I can tell you it’s not long, and it really is missing all of chapter nineteen, but those are excuses for why I really couldn’t put it down. The real answer lies in what I did after I finished the last sentence. I closed the worn out paperback pages and sighed. It was every bit as good as I remembered. As trashy and fantastic and romantic, as I remembered. Then I wondered.
What does reading (and don’t forget enjoying) this book say about me?
I’m thirty plus years old now. I have three kids. I aspire to read better things. Enlightening, open my eyes to the world, make myself a better person, things.
I recently read a great article about reading what you write here.
Did you click the link? I never click the link, so instead I’ll sum it up for you. Basically Julie Cross makes the argument for reading the genre you’re writing for. It was great and I completely agree with her. I read a lot of Young Adult. Not simply because I write Young Adult, but because I LOVE Young Adult. My embarrassing book is a Young Adult novel. It transports me to a place in my life that was full of possibilities. I had so many adventures, and fresh eyes that greeted each day with excitement. The whole world was opening up to me with endless decisions, and angst, and ideas. When I read my embarrassing book, it’s like reclaiming a little bit of myself back. It’s remembering that the sometimes drudgery of being a mother is only temporary. It's remembering deep inside me there is this fun loving, every moment life living, person still existing. This isn’t saying I would want to go back to my late teens, or early twenties. I love being a mom, and I love how the experiences of my teens and twenties have influenced the person I am today. But I love writing the Young Adult genre. I love being reminded of who I once was, and what is still within me.
So I moved my embarrassing book to a place where it would feel more comfortable, nestled between the Ally Condie's and the Shannon Hale's. I won’t be embarrassed by it anymore, because I was that person. I am that person.
And I can own it.