Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dear Zoella: A Note About Your Book Club | Discussion Post

Dear Zoella,

My name is Sheridan. I am seventeen years old, and I have been watching your channel for years. 

I don't remember how I stumbled upon your channel, but the only thing I remember is my cousin introducing me to your "How to Deal With Anxiety/Panic Attacks" video.

I can't put into words how much that helped me, how much that changed my life. I don't think I formally recognized that my "school-age shyness" was something completely different. I didn't know that I likely had an anxiety or panic disorder until I watched that video. Though I'm still not at a point mentally where I can convince myself to go to therapy for anxiety (hence why I am hesitant to say that I have anxiety), your videos have helped a lot. I see a great girl doing amazing things and not letting her own anxiety stop her. If you can do it, why can't I?

As hard as that was to put into words, I think you can understand the impact that you & your videos have had on my life. You are such a positive role model for me and I look up to you. I have a ton of respect for you.

Please keep this in mind as you read the following: I'm only seventeen and I still haven't mastered how to put the pen to the page, if you know what I mean. While some of this may seem very cross, that's not the intention at all.

What you might not know about me is that I am an author. Yes, a published author, at seventeen. I wrote a children's book about anti-bullying (Hank and Lui: King of the Mountain) and I couldn't be prouder of my accomplishments. I'm also an avid reader. Reading was and still remains one of the only ways that I can escape the negativity and cruelty of the world, and sometimes, even my own self-doubt and paralyzing anxiety.

When you announced your book club, I was so excited. I had already read a few of the books on the list at the time that it was announced, and I was excited to see how it progressed.

Recently, you held a twitter chat for your book club. This was really exciting because, not only do we get to talk to you, but we get to talk to you about books (which, to me, is the greatest thing that money can buy!)

But in all honesty, I was hurt when I saw that you responded to one of your questions like this.

[image description: A twitter user asked "What advice would you give to someone who doesn't particularly like to read?" Zoella replies: "Start with something a little easier, maybe a YA or something smaller to spark your love of books]

I know that it probably didn't cross your mind when you were answering the question, and I know that you didn't mean any harm by what you said, but I still am hurt. 

I know that you might not have realized that what you were typing can hurt, but that's what I'm here to inform you about. 

I was hurt that you called YA, one of my favorite genres, an easier genre to read. 

While you might not realize it, calling a certain genre of books "easier" to read, is an insult to both the readers and the authors. It implies that the books themselves are not complicated, that it's an "easy breezy read", that a YA book is a fast read because it doesn't make you think too hard about it. 

As an author, I know the term "easier genre" can be extremely insulting, even if you didn't mean it to be. It implies that YA books are easier to write, and calling a book an "easier" read can also be an insult to the intelligence, hard work and creativity of an author. 

While your channel has been almost like a second home to me, books have been there for me when no one else was. I grew up reading Harry Potter (and I still think that it is so cool that you were an extra in one of the movies!). I grew up reading every single day. I grew up finding versions of myself in other characters. I grew up in a hateful world, but I had books to escape it. 

Books have helped me in ways that I cannot quantify. Books have literally saved me, when I thought that saving myself wasn't possible. It is authors and characters and story-lines and villains and heroes and words on pages that did that for me. As a fellow author, I know you understand that, and I know that your book has done that for someone else. (I personally, haven't been able to find the book in my bookstores, and so I haven't been able to read the series). 

To hear something like that which belittles the YA community stings where it hurts. It doesn't make me feel good, to be frank. It feels like, by saying that YA is an "easier" genre to read, you're also saying that my own experience and journey with YA is not as important; that it doesn't mean as much and that I took the easy way out when it comes to reading. I didn't. 

I know you likely didn't mean any harm in your tweet. After all, I know it is just a tweet, and a lot of context, body language and emotion can be lost when our conversations are mainly through screens. I'm not writing this letter in anger, and I'm not writing this to try and make you feel bad. I'm only writing this to help you realize that your words have influence. Your words have power and sometimes, they can make people feel emotions that you didn't intend. 

I hope you realize that. 

Zoe, I love your videos, I love your optimism, and I am absolutely sure that I will love your books! I know that you have great things ahead of you and I cannot be more excited for what is to come. I just wanted to let you know about this. Hopefully, you'll listen to a little young subscriber like me. <3


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on our blog posts! I will always try and get back to each and every single one of your comments! Please feel free to leave suggestions for new books to review, as well as comments on the individual reviews themselves. Again, thank you so much for stopping by!