Release date: July 5th 2016. It’s out now!!!
I grew up in what felt to me like a small town. In actuality, I grew up in what was the largest city in the otherwise rural Eastern North Carolina. There was a university and everything. But to me, it always had that small town feel—the kind of feel you get when you’re new in town and everyone else has known each other since Kindergarten.
By the time I was a teen, my town had a claustrophobic feel. Everything about it made me want to escape. I blame the humidity. And a healthy dose of teen angst in the 90s. And maybe too many chemicals on the brain from all those perms in the 80s. That can’t have helped things.
Whatever the case, I was always looking for an escape, and books were my way out. When I was reading, the constant buzzing in my head from school, home, and peer pressure would fall away. The dingy halls of my high school would be replaced by some new and strange world ready for me to explore. The mean girls in the hallways who made a sport out of shoving me into lockers (Ten points if she drops her books. Twenty if she hits her head.) were vaporized to make way for villains of real consequence like a scary demon car named Christine that will kill you if you look at it wrong!
The world of stories made sense to me, and it helped me to make sense of the world around me—the real world I was trying to survive.
Besides writing about scary demon cars, Stephen King also wrote a memoir titled, ON WRITING. In it he said, “Books are uniquely portable magic.” I believe this magic is why libraries and booksellers are so important to young people who come from small places.
Librarians and booksellers put magic into our hands, expanding our small horizons to their bursting points. These librarians and booksellers are helping to even the playing field for small town teens, giving them access to travel, new experiences, and people from all over the world. As a reader, you can be anywhere, anytime, or anyone with just the magical flick of a page.
Today, even more than when I was young, great bookstores and libraries are places of community. They are safe spaces for spazzing out with others over the cover of a new book in your favorite series. They are full of programming that enriches and enhances their patrons’ lives with both social and learning experiences. They are sanctuaries, and for some people they are lifelines.
Young adulthood is about pushing boundaries, developing one’s identity and individualism. I know I couldn’t have done that without help from all the stories I read. And I’m forever grateful to those bookseller and librarian magicians who put that magic in my hands and set me on my journey.
(And P.S., thanks for not laughing that time I tried the spiral perm. Lesson learned.)
Find her at http://www.shannonleealexander.com
Social media links: