Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Avid Readers Rub Shoulders with Authors at Book Fair

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Avid Readers Rub Shoulders with Authors at Book Fair

Article excerpt

PARAMUS -- Thousands of people descended on the biannual BooksNJ book fair Sunday to hone their writing skills, meet up-and-coming authors and gather this year's summer reading material.

Avid readers and librarians huddled under large white tents on the public library grounds, listening as authors explained their motivations, many of them rooted in New Jersey, and helped others improve their craft.

Kody Keplinger, who penned the young adult novel "The Duff," about a high school senior's quest to reinvent herself, used her keynote address at the fair to tell a group of fans about developing people's interest in reading -- a subject area she was at one point failing in grade school. She said she was set back by being legally blind but also identified with children who "just don't connect" with books.

That changed after her mother persuaded her to bring home the first book in the "Harry Potter" series. After starting it together, she said, she became hooked and they blazed through the book in a week. Keplinger said she then used a magnifying glass to plow her way through the second and third books in the series, and switched to listening to the fourth on 27 hours worth of cassette tapes.

"I did not leave my room," she said. "Given the right circumstances, the right book, the right people, anyone can fall in love with reading."

Since writing "The Duff" at age 18 in 2010, Keplinger said her biggest achievement was earning a spot on the list of top 10 books for young reluctant readers. She has developed a mission to attract youth like her former self.

It's a goal that Esperanza Pacheco, 24, the teen librarian for the Hasbrouck Heights Public Library, said Keplinger seems to be accomplishing. She requested two copies of "The Duff" for the library and hasn't been able to read it herself yet because it has been checked out ever since it arrived. …

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