Well, after once again neglecting my poor blog, I’m back to participate in another “Teens Can Write, Too!” blog chain. For those readers unaware of TCWT, it’s essentially a giant entity of awesomeness in the form of a blog for … Continue reading
So this is my first time participating in the monthly Teens Can Write, Too! Blog Chain. I’ve followed this blog chain for a long time, but I’ve never actually written a post for it, because I’m lame like that. But now I’m finally participating, because this prompt is just too good to pass up. For the month of May, the prompt is:
What kinds of published books would you like to see more of?
1. More diverse books that aren’t “issue books”
A couple weeks ago, twitter was taken over by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks project. And it was very much needed and entirely inspiring and really freakin’ awesome. But when people started throwing around suggestions about diverse books, the titles seemed to have a similar theme–nearly all of them were “issue books” that focus on really serious problems in life. Homophobia, racism, religious intolerance, ect.
There’s nothing wrong with issue books. Actually, I love those types of books and feel they’re very much a necessary part of the YA genre. But when every single diverse book is an issue book, it suggests that being diverse is an issue. Which it’s not. Ignorant and intolerant people are the issue, not the diverse people themselves. So I’d like to see fewer books with Diverse Main Characters and more books with Main Characters in Cute or Mysterious or Magical Plots Who Just-So-Happen to be Diverse in Some Way or Another.
Let’s see a Frankenstein retelling with a snarky Asian MC who is always getting her geeky best friend in trouble. Or a Contemporary novel set in France, where a bi girl gets lost from her tour group and stumbles into a mystery involving ancient catacombs. Basically, I want books that incorporate diversity, but aren’t strictly about diversity.
2. More books that feature sick protags who don’t whine 24/7 and/or then die.
Okay, let’s just get this straight–there are a ton of teens out there with chronic illnesses. TONS. And yet they’re rarely represented in YA fiction, and when they do make appearances, they’re usually either annoyingly whiny or dead by the end of the book.
Personally, I have some chronic health issues, and I also have friends with serious medical problems. So I can tell you from experience that most of us don’t spend our entire lives crying and grumbling about our illnesses. We live life as normally as possible, and make the best out of bad situations. And a lot of us actually have a sense of humor about our health problems. For example:
- When someone I know well asks me to do a physical chore–do the dishes, make dinner, ect.–I’ll say something like, “Oh, so you’re going to make the cripple do it?!” And it’s highly sarcastic and stupid, yet somehow funny.
- I sometimes walk with this really weird gait because my brain hates me, and I sort of look like one of those peg-legged pirates from old films. So my brother now refers to my handicapped parking tag as “The Jolly Roger” and he talks in pirate-speak whenever we’re parking.
- My brother and his best friend/my surrogate brother have the “Life Alert” commercials memorized. Those are the super cheesy commercials where old people trip over nothing and then start yelling, “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” My brother can quote those commercials like nobody’s business, and he doesn’t pass up the opportunity whenever I faint.
- I could go on for a very long time, but I’ll spare you.
So moral of the story is that not all teens with medical problems are whiny. And we’re also not all about to drop dead any second– there are statistically more teens who are chronically ill rather than terminally ill. So it would be extremely logical for authors to feature MCs who are dealing with severe illnesses, but not obsessing over death. And it would also be extremely welcome, because I get tired of having to choose between books with healthy MCs and books with almost-dead MCs.
3. Mythological-inspired fiction not based on Greek myths.
I love Greek myths. Really, I adore them much more than I probably should. But there are also a ton of very interesting, very under-represented ancient cultures out there. Take the Mayans, for example. Their religion was incredibly dark. For example: Suicide was usually considered an honorable death in Maya culture, so they had this goddess named Ixtab who was a patron of suicidal people. Disturbing, right? But also interesting. There’s tons of fodder for novels buried in Maya mythology, and also in the mythologies of many other cultures outside of Greece. (And someone seriously needs to write a novel about Mithraism. I mean, an ancient Roman cult based on Persian beliefs, with underground temples and secret initiation processes? Someone write a book about this NOW.)
4. Novels based in Central/South America.
Like I mentioned in #3, there is so much interesting culture and history in these places, and the geography itself is fascinating. And yet very few YA books are set in Central/South America. It’s such a shame!
5. Non-romantic books.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance. But not everything in life revolves around getting the girl/guy, and I don’t want to be constantly reading about relationships. I’d love to see more books that feature main characters who either aren’t in a relationships, or who are more concerned about life issues rather than boyfriend/girlfriend issues. Also, it’d be great to see more teen MCs who aren’t in a relationship and don’t act like this is a travesty. There are teens out there who don’t date, either because they don’t want to or don’t have the chance to. And that’s okay. Really, it is. So there’s no need for all teen MCs to act like the world is ending whenever they go longer than 2.48 seconds without making out.
So what do you think? Would you read these types of books? And make sure to check out the rest of the other blogs participating in the chain this month! Here’s the full list:
May 5th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/
May 6th – http://www.nerdgirlinc.blogspot.com/
May 7th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/
May 8th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/
May 10th – http://randomofalife.blogspot.com/
May 11th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/
May 12th – http://www.fidaislaih.blogspot.com/
May 14th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/
May 15th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/
May 16th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/
May 17th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
May 18th – https://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/
May 19th – http://afoodyportfolio.wordpress.com/
May 20th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/
May 21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/
May 22nd – http://www.brookeharrison.com/
May 23rd – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/
May 24th – http://www.oyeahwrite.wordpress.com/
May 25th – http://avonsbabbles.wordpress.com/
May 26th – TheUnsimpleMind – [Link to come.]
May 27th – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/
May 28th – http://www.lilyjenness.blogspot.com/
May 29th – http://sunsandstarsanddreams.wordpress.com/
May 30th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ – (We’ll announce the topic for June’s blog chain!)
Well, the title of this post pretty much sums things up. I used to belong to a local YA crit group that was amazing, but the group has since fallen apart for reasons beyond my control. I’ve been dying for another YA CP (or preferably more than one!), and now that my health is doing a little better, I feel comfortable taking on the responsibilities of being a CP. So here’s what I’m looking for in a CP:
- Someone who is willing to critique works of YA Contemporary and YA Fantasy.
- Someone willing to read multiple drafts of the same project. (This can get tedious, but I really feel it’s necessary for CPs to exchange multiple drafts. Because let’s face it: Early drafts suck.)
- Someone who can handle critique with grace.
- Someone who is okay working with loose deadlines. (My health has a tendency to randomly nose-dive, and when this happens, super-strict deadlines are a struggle for me.)
- Someone who is tolerant of the darker sides of YA. (My novels tend to deal with dark issues and have profanity in them.)
So basically, I’m just looking for someone who will tear my manuscripts to pieces and kick me in the butt when I’m not working at full-speed. And if you can do this with a happy attitude and a bit of humor, I will love you forever. And in return for your critiquing services, here’s what I have to offer you:
- I have three years’ experience of critiquing, and I’ve belonged to multiple crit groups, both online and off.
- I critique very thoroughly and harshly, whether I’m looking at your grammar or your character arcs.
- I’m also very happy to offer positive comments. (Let’s be honest, every writer needs to hear at least a couple!)
- I’m always willing to help brainstorm plots, characters, ect. (In other words, I’ll help with your story, whether it’s a seedling of an idea or a full-grown manuscript.)
- I’ve written six YA novels to date in a bunch of different genres and I read very widely, so I’m very familiar with most genres of YA.
Okay. So if you think we might be a good fit as CPs, please shoot me off an email to OliviaRivers45(at)gmail(dot)com. Include the first five pages of your current WIP as a Word document, and I’ll email you back with my first five pages. We can exchange crits of our first pages, and then decide from there if we like each other’s critiquing style, and if we’d make good CPs.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read all this! I hope to hear from you soon. 🙂
Yesterday, I did a blog post about how age is relevant to writing. That post got me thinking about another misconception many teens have: They believe age is relevant to publishing. This misconception seems to come in many forms, but the most common versions I’ve seen are:
- So what if my novel has 1,200 grammar mistakes? And so what if I can’t spell? Everyone should still buy my book, because I wrote it when I was only thirteen!
- It doesn’t matter that my book costs an outrageous amount! I’m still going to become a bestseller, because I’m only fourteen.
- It’s totally okay if I write snarky replies to every negative review I receive! After all, I’m only fifteen, so readers shouldn’t say anything negative about my book in the first place.
- Obviously, I need to spam everyone on the internet about my book! And I need to include my age every single time I mention my novel, because the most important part of it is that I’m only sixteen.
- It’s okay if my writing isn’t nearly as good as most authors! Considering I’m only seventeen, it’s really good, so everyone will still buy my book.
And my response:
No, NO, NOOO, NOOOOO, NOOOOOOOOOOO!
(Before I go any further, I should clarify something: In most cases, I don’t mind if teens self-publish unprofessional books. Most of these teens don’t market their books, and only publish them to share with friends and family. Personally, I think this is 100% okay.)
What’s not okay is when teens seriously market an unprofessional book. When this happens, teens expect strangers to pay money for a low-quality product, and the results are often disastrous. Not only does it make the individual author look pretty terrible, but it gives a bad name to other teen authors. And when all this bad stuff strikes, the teen author almost always uses the same excuse:
But I’m just a teenager! What else did you expect from me?
Quite simply, I only expect one thing from authors, whether they’re teens or adults or toddlers: I expect professionalism. Simply put, all the misconceptions I listed above usually result in an unprofessional product and author. And this leads back to my original point: If you’re going to act like a professional writer, you have to realize age is irrelevant to the process of publishing. The only way age ever impacts publishing is if you use is as a feeble marketing gimmick or an excuse–both of which show a lack of professionalism.
So what makes a professional writer? Personally, I think it’s a myriad of things, and none of them have to do with age. I believe some of the most important aspects of a professional writer are:
- They don’t use marketing gimmicks.
- They have nice-looking covers.
- They don’t constantly spam people with their buy links.
- They gain positive reviews the honest way.
- They put out well-written, well-edited products.
- They price their books reasonably.
- And, most importantly, they respect their readers.
Alright, I’m done ranting for now. Do you agree that age has nothing to do with publishing? And what do you think makes a professional writer?
Let me start this post by saying that I think teen writers are pretty darn awesome. I feel slightly awkward saying that, since I’m a teen writer. But I’m not talking about myself right now. I’m talking about the community of teen writers, both online and off, that has more passion than I thought possible.
That being said, I see a lot of misconceptions haunting teen writers. I did a post of all the ways adults misunderstand us, so I figured I’d better make things fair and do a post about how teens misunderstand themselves.
I believe teen writers aren’t all that different from adult writers in many ways. However, I do see a giant misconception that floats around the heads of many teen writers:
Age has absolutely no impact on writing.
I’m not going to point any fingers, but I’ve seen a lot of blogs/websites/people say this. And every time I see it, my initial reaction is, “Whaaaat?” Simply put, this just isn’t how I see things. I know I’m the odd-man-out, so I figured I’d take a moment to break-down my thoughts.
Basically, my thought is this: Age has a HUGE impact on writing.
Like most writers, I cringe when I look back at my old writing. But I cringe about something different than most adult writers. For me, it’s the drama that’s the worst part of my stories. Everything–and I mean everything–is painfully dramatic. A typical scene in my first novel goes something like this:
MC wakes up! *GASP*
MC goes to school! *GAAASP*
MC meets up with best friend! *GAAAASP*
MC and best friend gossip! *GAAAAAAASP*
And I’m not the only teen writer to have this sort of issue. In fact, it’s the most common problem I’ve noticed in teen writing: The characters’ emotions are extremely unbalanced. Sometimes teen write over-done emotions (like me), and sometimes it’s the exact opposite. Either way, the writing comes off as immature and naive. I think the reason for these unbalanced emotions is simple: not enough life experience.
If you think about the typical adult, they have a ton of life experience to draw on for their writing. The day they finally graduated college was probably the most relieving day of their life. The day they proposed to their spouse was probably the most nerve-wracking. The day their first child was born was probably the happiest. Ect, ect, ect. These experiences give adult writers an easy way to relate to the trials of their characters.
Now think about teens: What emotional experiences do we have to draw on? Pretty much nothing in comparison to adults.
Quite simply, most teens haven’t lived long enough to truly grasp the essence and impact of emotions. I know I’m one of these teens; even if my life hasn’t exactly been easy, it’s nothing compared most adults. Because the goal of most novels is to draw emotions from the reader, teens are put at a huge disadvantage. How can we convey emotions if we don’t even understand them?
This is why I say age has such a big impact on writing. The older we get, the more life experience we have to draw on. But, until then, we’re left in this awkward stage of trying to rip emotions from readers that we don’t truly understand.
So this leads back to a conclusion I came to years ago: Teens are at a disadvantage when it comes to writing. But the good news? We’re young. If we keep writing consistently, we’ll have years of writing experience by the time we hit twenty-five. And, if you combine that with the life experiences we’ll have at that point, it’ll make a kick-butt combo.
Writers are well-known for their low self-esteem, and I’ll admit that I’m no exception. In general, I dislike my own writing. There are occasionally days when I’ll look at my writing and go, “Hmm, not too shabby.” But, while I love the process of writing, I generally despise all things I write.
In some ways, this is helpful. It makes me look at my novels with an extremely critical eye, and it also helps me embrace critique much more easily. But, in many ways, this mindset just isn’t healthy for me. It took me years to realize this, and when I finally did, I knew I had to change my outlook on writing. In particular, I knew I had to stop comparing myself to successful writers, or I would drive myself insane.
I think all writers, including me, have examined the work of famous authors to see what works and what doesn’t. While this process is almost always helpful, what comes next just isn’t healthy. After I examined their writing, I found myself comparing myself to the actual author: John Green has such amazing voice, and I don’t. Patrick Rothfuss can build such amazing worlds, and I can’t. Stephenie Meyer can attract millions of readers, and I never will.
Thinking like this comes naturally to me, but it isn’t as easy to stop doing. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others, and it’s not like I could just flip a switch and stop. But, after some thinking, I realized some things that made me reconsider the way I compared myself to other writers.
1. People don’t pick up my novels to read John Green.
In other words, if people want to read a John Green book, they’ll pick up a book written by him. When people choose to read one of my novels, they expect to find a unique voice. My unique voice.
No, my writing isn’t nearly as good or deep or emotional as John Green’s. But, in some ways, I think being different is a good thing. After all, if I didn’t have a different voice and outlook, then everything I wrote would feel old and over-done.
2. I’m not nearly as good as Patrick Rothfuss, but maybe someday I’ll come close.
I don’t think writers ever stop learning. I’ve talked to experienced writers and beginners like me, and everyone seems to agree on this point: There’s always more to learn. Whether it’s about writing itself, or the publishing industry, or marketing–the learning just never stops. Since I’m still a teenager, and since I plan on writing until the day I die, I figure I have about 60 years left to study my craft. And that’s plenty of time to develop some skills, right? So I don’t feel like I need to panic about all my inadequacies quite yet.
3. Maybe I’ll never have millions of readers like Stephenie Meyer, but that doesn’t matter much.
This is perhaps the most important thing I realized: It’s my love for writing that counts. Yeah, having a million readers would be nice. But what’s even nicer is that I get true joy out of my craft. Even if I had no chance of being published, I would still write. Even if I couldn’t show my work to a single soul, I would keep writing. And, personally, I think that sort of love is what gets writers places. I could read every writing manual on the planet, but if I didn’t have passion for the craft, my work would still fall flat.
So, after realizing all these things, I feel like I can read “The Fault in our Stars” without banging my head against a wall about my own, er… faults. What about you? What are some things that help you stop the comparison-blues?
For years, NetGalley has been an invaluable tool for traditional publishers. All they have to do is upload one of their books into the NetGalley catalog, and the company distributes it to potential book reviewers. It’s an easy, fast way to reach book reviewers.
— $400 for one author and one book. The listing stays on NetGalley for a full year.
— $300 per author for a co-op of 20 authors. The books and authors can be switched out as many times as necessary, and the listings stay on NetGalley for a full year.
There’s also the option to join a co-op for a limited time. This isn’t a service provided directly by NetGalley– organizations like Patchwork Press offer this. Because books can be switched out, more than 20 authors can take part in the co-op throughout the year-long period.
What this means for indie authors if that you have the option to test the NetGalley waters and post your book on their website for less than $300. I just teamed up with Patchwork Press to post my novel “Counting Shadows” on NetGalley for a two month session. In total it cost $80, and I was able to easily pay through PayPal.
So far, the experience has been wonderful. Patchwork Press is extremely organized and efficient, and now all I have to do is wait for the reviews to come in. I’ve been told to expect about 50+ reviews, which is an astonishingly high number, given the price I paid. To compare, my favorite book blog tour company, Xpresso Book Tours, offers a 40-review tour for $150.
There are, of course, differences between a book blog tour and a session with NetGalley. For one, a blog tour gives you the ability to connect directly to the readers, and communicate with them during the tour. Also, NetGalley listings don’t include buy-links, and there is no promise that the readers will include these links when they post their reviews. One more thing I should mention–blog tour reviews are usually posted on multiple sites. Reviewers for NetGalley only have to post their review on the NetGalley site–all other sites are completely optional.
So is it worth the $80? I don’t know yet. My book has only been up for a few hours, so it’s way too soon to tell. But I’ll write up another post in a month or so, and give an update on how the NetGalley experience has worked for me.
In the meantime, here are some very helpful posts about other authors’ experiences with NetGalley:
Susan Kaye Quinn’s experience: http://www.susankayequinn.com/2013/05/netgalley-for-indie-authors.html
Keary Taylor;s experience: http://www.kearytaylor.com/2013/02/the-netgalley-low-down-for-authors-and.html
Some people are totally comfortable having their friends and relatives read their writing. I envy those people big-time. Personally, it scares me every time I hand over a piece of my writing to someone I know well. To the point where I wrote two entire novels before I told my family I was even interested in writing.
Now, I can give my writing to my CPs, and they’ll tear it to pieces. I’m fine with this. I actually enjoy this process most of the time. But when it comes to friends and family? Nope. I always feel like I’m going to throw up when I hand over a piece of my writing.
I know I’m not alone when it comes to this particular fear, so I thought I’d write a post about how I personally deal with it.
1. I always explain that the opinions in my writing don’t always reflect my personal opinions.
My family is Catholic. I am Atheist. This is the main reason I waited so long to tell any of them about my writing. I have characters in my writing who not only use magic, but who believe magic is a powerful healing tool. I’m sure most people know how Catholics usually respond to books with magic–when I was young, I was forbidden to read Twilight, The Mortal Instruments, Harry Potter, and many other novels. I have relatives who actually believe J.K. Rowling is a possessed worker of the devil. Basically, in the Catholic Church’s opinion, magic is a terrible and evil thing. In my books, it’s a good thing to have. You can see the conflict right there.
When I first gave my mom one of my novels, I was utterly terrified that my parents were going to make me stop writing, and haul me off to an exorcist. I repeated about twenty-bazillion times that it was a fantasy novel. Yes, a FANTASY novel. As in, I don’t believe anything in it is actually real.
Luckily, no exorcisms followed. My mom actually enjoyed the novel, and she was perfectly okay with my explanation of the magical elements. But had I not taken the time to explain that vital fact–that my characters’ beliefs don’t represent mine–then things probably wouldn’t have gone so smoothly.
2. I tell them there’s no need to finish it or tell me what they think.
Whenever I hand my writing over to someone I know, I always say this. If they enjoy my work, then that’s wonderful, and I’d love to hear their thoughts. But if they find it offensive or terrible or boring, then I don’t expect them to fake a smile and tell me it’s great. This seems to take a lot of pressure off people, and makes the whole experience go smoother.
3. I just say no.
Sometimes, I just have to tell people that they can’t read my writing. Period. No exceptions. If I believe that my writing might harm the relationship I have with them, then I just say no. It’s not worth losing a friend of relative over something as trivial as a piece of writing. And it’s also not worth the nerve-wracking feeling of worrying how that person will judge me. In cases like this, I just tell people no. They might think it’s rude, but I’d rather be considered rude than a worker of the devil, or worse.
Along with being a writer nerd, I’m also a tech geek. I love technology in all its forms, and I always get excited about new writing technology.
But nothing gets me as excited as the novel writing program “Scrivener”, created by Literature and Latte. I simply adore this program. Upon first inspection, it’s pretty similar to Microsoft Word. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see there are dozens of exciting and helpful features Word doesn’t offer.
Some of my favorites are:
Scrivener allows you to organize your story on a virtual corkboard. Add the title of each scene, your target word count, a synopsis of the scene, the draft number, and other important writing facts. Then simply click on the index card you want to write about, and a blank page will pop up for you to type in.
–The Folders and Subfolders
Instead of organizing your work in one, giant document, Scrivener allows you to separate your document into interlinked pieces. These pieces are folders and subfolders. All your work remains on the same document, but you don’t have to scroll through 25 pages to reach Chapter Three. Just click on the Chapter Three sub-document, and it’s right in front of you!
–Distraction Free Mode
This mode practically saved my life. It blocks out everything on your screen but your writing. That’s right–you can’t see your outline, your word count, or any other distracting things on your desktop. It makes you sit your butt down and just write, which is something that I love.
This feature is why I use Scrivener for revisions. It allows you to split the screen and have one document on the right, and one on the left. So, for example, you can keep your first draft popped up on the right while you write the second draft in the left portion of the screen. This allows you to view two parts of your writing at once, without switching screens or programs.
And this is just a small taste of Scrivener’s capabilities. Using it, you can set specific word-count goals, track the words you use most often, use any font and style you want, and more. The best part? Scrivener only costs about $40 bucks. And, if you complete NaNoWriMo, it’s even cheaper. Oh, and you can also get the 30-day trial, without paying a cent.
Okay, I’m done raving about this program. Now go download it! Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Just earlier this year, I was about 30 pounds underweight. I have two medical conditions that affect my stomach in various ways. Basically, I get extremely nauseous every time I eat, and I have a lot of severe stomach pains. As you might guess, it’s incredibly difficult for me to keep on weight. Yesterday I went shopping, and I was able to fit in a size 4 pair of jeans without them slipping off my waist. I almost screamed I was so happy.
My BMI (Body Mass Index) is now just barely within the “healthy” range. The fact that I’m no longer a walking skeleton is something I’m so, so grateful for.
But other people seem to think differently. The other day, I had someone in my charter school class say to me, “Wow, you’ve gained weight.” I was about to start gushing about how happy I was, when she added, “You know, my friend has this super awesome diet she uses to stay skinny. I could tell you about it, if you want.”
My jaw just about dropped to the floor. I don’t remember exactly what I said in reply–I was in total shock. But I have no doubt that I wasn’t very pleasant.
The sad truth is, when I was 30 pounds underweight, I was constantly getting told how “beautiful” my figure was. Practically every girl I knew “wanted my figure”. Even adults would gush about how “lucky” I was to be so skinny.
It’s not easy to make me mad. But these “compliments” almost put me over the edge. There is nothing beautiful about every single one of your ribs showing. No one should want to feel light-headed constantly. And there’s not anything lucky about throwing up at least twice a day.
Unfortunately, we live in a world with unrealistic expectations of beauty. To put it frankly, this has got to stop. It’s not healthy, and it’s not right. There are thousands upon thousands of people out there with eating disorders, all because of our culture’s bizarre interpretation of beauty. People are dying because of this so-called beauty.
Despite all of this, there are only 77 YA books in Barnes and Noble’s book catalog categorized as “Eating Disorders”. This is out of over 67,000 YA books they have cataloged.
Fortunately, some of those books are fantastic resources. My favorite on the subject is WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson. Unfortunately, there’s a painfully obvious lack of books on this topic.
I’m not sure why this is, but I am sure of one thing: We need more books about eating disorders. There needs to be more awareness about the conditions, and people need to become more open to discussing the topic. Publishing more books about eating disorders would be a big step in the right direction. It would provide people with the knowledge they need to maybe save someone’s life.
Yes, they’re usually depressing. Yes, they’re heavy topics. But that doesn’t mean eating disorder books should be left unpublished.
To end this post on a positive note, here is a link to a list of YA books about eating disorders. This is the largest list I could find, and there are only 106 books. But it’s a start, and I encourage you to read at least one of these books. You never know how it might change your life, or the life of someone else.