A Little Like Magic

An orange flyer hung on the wall, it’s bold words issuing a challenge. Read one hundred books; win one hundred dollars. I was a third grader with fifty-two cents in my pocket and only a Razor scooter to my name. One hundred dollars sounded like a fortune. Little did I know, I would be getting something worth more than a hundred dollars.

The school librarian dropped a stack of stapled papers on the table and called us to attention. Entry sheets for the reading challenge were now available. At the end of the school year, one student would win a hundred dollars at our last awards ceremony. I could see it now; while my classmates were getting awards for their exemplary grades and acts of kindness, I would be accepting what really mattered in a nine-year old’s mind: money.

The librarian explained the challenge. No picture books allowed. Each fifty pages equaled one “book” for entry. And the importance of integrity—a quick threat of we are all knowing.

I was already an avid reader, so the idea of cheating never crossed my mind. But I was in severe need of book recommendations if I was going to read 5,000 pages. So I planned out my strategy. Find the biggest books in the school library and read them all. My eyes caught sight of a massive green spine, situated in the Fiction section. But it was a sequel, so I turned my eyes to the first book in the series. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The synopsis intrigued me, and I checked out the book to take home.

Closets under the stairs, flying broomsticks, three-headed dogs, and why hadn’t I read this before now? I devoured the book, becoming a witness to Harry’s journey and his escape into a magical world. I returned to school the next week needing the second book. I had to know what would happen to Harry and his friends. I had to escape into the Wizarding World just as much as Harry needed to escape from his life with the Dursleys.

I went with Harry to Potions class, watching cauldrons simmer and bubble over. I felt the air rush through my hair as I flew beside him on the Quidditch field. I tasted butterbeer and ate chocolate frogs. I laughed with Hagrid and grew perplexed at the headmaster’s odd words of wisdom.

I had found solace in Harry’s world—an escape from my own normal life. I was shocked that something as simple as words on a page could inspire my imagination and transport me to new worlds. I was the captain of a ship, and fiction was my sea of endless possibilities. And I determined then that I wanted to share my adventures with other people through my own writing.

I didn’t win the hundred dollars. I can still remember staring out at the crowd of students sitting on the gym floor and feeling my heart drop when someone else’s name was called. But I realized that I earned something significantly more important than money. Reading Harry Potter encouraged me to imagine more and to dream bigger. The experience was a type of magic that existed not only in the imagination, but in the real world.

 

5 Booktubers to Get You Started

It’s no secret that I can waste plenty of time on YouTube. It’s a black hole. I start off with a “just for a few minutes” mindset, checking what some of my favorite Youtubers may have uploaded, and then five hours later, I’m learning how to do Yoda costume makeup for absolutely no reason.

YouTube is a community of communities where there is something for everyone: makeup lovers, gamers, musicians, belly dancers in training, you name it. Book lovers are not excluded, as they shouldn’t be.

BookTube is a glorious place where readers can unite for our common love: books! You just have to know where to look. If you aren’t familiar with it, here are a few booktubers that you can start off with. If you are, maybe we’ve mentioned one of your favorites.

1. Ariel Bissett

Quirky, charming, entertaining, Ariel is a personal favorite. Her channel is one full of book reviews, poetry, writing tips, and creativity. She’s delightful to watch and just plain adorable, and between you and me, she is living the dream life. Who doesn’t want to live in London?

Here’s one of my personal favorite videos:

2. WellDoneBooks (Max)

If you’re looking for more literary, analytical reviews of your favorite books, or of a book you’re hoping to make a favorite, Max is the booktuber for you. His channel is loaded with book reviews from memoirs like Heart of  Glass by Wendy Lawless to fun novels like The Girls by Emily Kline. He gives insightful opinions so that you never have to wonder, “Is this the book for me?”

Check out his most recent video:

3. polandbananasBOOKS (Christine Riccio)

Christine is certainly one of the more energetic booktubers out there and is perhaps my favorite on this list. Her videos are fun and highly engaging. And with her upbeat, all over the place attitude, it’s hard to get bored when watching her videos. She does “booktalks,” often with popular authors, book hauls, and reviews of TV shows and movies.

Get to know her here:

4. PadfootndProngs07 (Raeleen Lemay) 

Raleen is a wonderful choice in BookTube entertainment, especially if you are like this blogger and have a passion for YA fiction. She has read and mentioned perhaps every possible book that YA readers could love and put on their TBR lists. As a bonus, she does a monthly unboxing of Owlcrates, YA book and swag subscription boxes.

Here’s a book tag!

And last, but not least:

5. jessethereader (Jesse)

Jesse is a joy to watch and keeps things interesting. He’s energetic and genuine and truly loves his books. He keeps his book reviews entertaining and produces lots of fun content, including plenty of challenge videos. And I am very jealous of his library.

Another fun book tag to check out:

Of course, there are plenty of other wonderful booktubers that didn’t make it to this list, but we all have to start somewhere. There is a whole book-loving world to be discovered and it’s waiting for you. But if you are already a BookTube aficionado and we haven’t mentioned one of your faves, feel free to share in the comments below! Have a great day, everyone, and go explore BookTube!