I picked John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars because it swept me away and it helped me forget that my sister was dying as I read it. Thinking about my reaction reminded me about the roots of my love for books. In seventh grade I wrote a poem Books Are Our Friends and I won a prize for it: a book. Of course. On occasions when I have talked to students about what I do and sought to encourage reading, I have told them that if they like to read, they will never be lonely. I still think books are magic carpets for the imagination, Netflix and HBO notwithstanding.
The Fault in Our Starsbackground as a hospital chaplain was another lure. As a young adult book, it was more straightforward and offered refuge from existential irony and artsy explorations of postmodern specialized subcultures and gave a chance to look at human-condition, no-escape issues like mortality. And the pages almost turned themselves, even though I was reading it on my Kindle.