After moving to a new city last summer and not getting a full-time teaching position, I found myself with a lot of extra time. I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, took up Zumba, and created a blog. I also decided to do something that I had thought about for a long time, but never had the time to sit down and do: I sent out a bunch of letters to some of my favorite authors. I wanted to let them know how much I enjoyed their books and appreciated their work. I shared part of a letter I wrote in an earlier post about Caroline B. Cooney. I found the addresses on various places around the web. I typed up cute letters and put them in the mail…and then I never heard from any of the authors. Not a mass-produced postcard response or anything.
I’ll have to admit, I was a bit disappointed. I’m not trying to book an author for an event or anything, but I’d like some kind of confirmation that my letter made it to its intended audience. I remember writing to celebrities in elementary school when we learned about letter writing, and we all got something back from the people we wrote to (I wrote to Patricia Richardson, aka Jill Taylor from the 90s classic TV show Home Improvement. I must not have been able to find Jonathan Taylor Thomas’s address!).
The only author I did manage to reach was Katherine Neville, author of The Eight. I sent her an e-mail (which means that perhaps my letter writing was a bit too old-fashioned) and she sent a response back lickety-split. I told her how much I enjoyed her novels and that until her next book came out, I was busy reading Steve Berry’s books. She wrote back:
In an age of social media and staying connected to your customers, I figured more authors would be willing to respond to a reader’s letter. Is this just wishful thinking on my part? I’d love to have a response from an author I’ve admired.
Has anyone else tried to contact an author before? Were you successful? Any tips on how can I find more up-to-date addresses? Or should I give up on the letter approach and contact authors through e-mail or their blogs?
I recently mailed a package to the school I worked at for four years. Inside the box was a stack of books that I had picked up at the Half Price Bookstore, read, and wanted to share. Mind you, I bought these books months ago, but I couldn’t bear to part with them! I almost decided not to mail them at all. Then I looked around at our apartment (which is bursting at the seams already) and decided that since I had read the books, I could live without the physical proof. Here’s what I sent and a review in fifteen words or less, plus some notes to help you decide whether or not you should add it to your summer reading list:
- Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson: Average teen pulls prank, earning a reputation. He then deals with rumors and ruined reputations.
- Read Twisted if you like realistic characters and situations, and topics that are relevant to today’s teens. Also read if you liked Anderson’s other novels, like Speak.
- If I Stay by Gayle Forman: Accident lands a girl in a coma. She must decide to live or let go.
- Read If I Stay if you saw the movie preview and thought it looked interesting, or if you like teenagers put in difficult situations that they must overcome. This one’s a bit of a tearjerker.
- The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: 1996 teens access their future Facebook pages through AOL CD. Their choices affect their futures.
- Read The Future of Us if you enjoyed Asher’s 13 Reasons Why, or if you are interested in how technology has changed our lives in a relatively short time, thanks to the internet and Facebook.
- Starters by Lissa Price: Elderly rent out teenagers’ bodies for fun, but teens soon become mindless weapons.
- Read Starters if you like YA dystopian novels with strong female leads like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Matched. This novel has a sequel titled Enders, which I picked up from the library this week, but haven’t started yet.
- Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian: Lillia, Kat, and Mary help one another seek revenge, but maybe they go too far…
- Read Burn for Burn if you are tired of YA dystopian novels! This novel has three girls from different social cliques working together on revenge plots. There is also a bit of the supernatural involved. This book is followed by Fire with Fire, which I also read and enjoyed, and I’m interested to see what will happen in the third book in the series.
- Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer: Meteor pushes moon closer to earth and family must survive with stockpiled food and wood-stove.
- Read Life As We Knew It if you’re interested in finding out what life would be like if a global natural disaster really happened and you were forced to survive without grocery stores, water, heat, electricity, cell phones, and the internet. The novel is written as a series of journal entries. It is followed up by three other books in the series (which I have not read, and I’m not sure that I will).
- The Kill Order by James Dashner: Prequel to Maze Runner series. How it all started. Mutating disease released on innocent people.
- Read The Kill Order if you read the Maze Runner series and are still confused! While this novel still didn’t answer all of my questions, it did help explain how the disease started in the first place. It also shows what life was like right at the time of the sun flares, which are discussed in the Maze Runner books.
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: Kid leaves reservation school to attend a white school for hope of a better future.
- Read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian if you have ever felt like you didn’t belong in your family, community, or school. Read this book if you’ve felt like there was more to you and your potential than everyone around you imagined. As the main character is a teenage boy, I feel like boys would be drawn to this book more than girls would. Read this book if you disagree with book banning/challenging and you want to see what all the fuss is about.
- Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen: Author of Hatchet and Brian’s Winter returns with more of Brian’s story.
- This is the only book out of the bunch that I didn’t read. I just know that kids always like Gary Paulsen’s books. Students are captivated by Brian’s ability to survive in the wild on his own. I remember reading Hatchet and Brian’s Winter in elementary school and really enjoying them. I think I remember this unit in particular because we even got to build our own forts in the school forest. How cool is that?!
How did I do? Do you think my box of books will be a hit with teenagers looking for something new to read?