The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

Newport Local News Under Cover Book Club: "The Rent ...The Rent Collector by Camron Wright is an incredible book about the power of literacy and hope in desperate situations. The story is centered around Sang Ly and her family, who live in the biggest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia and pick trash for a living. Her young son is very ill- she has spent years trying every medicine she can find, but nothing has helped. Sang Ly rents her home from Sopeap Sin, an irritable drunk known as “The Cow” to the residents of the dump. 

But Sopeap knows something that the residents don’t. She knows how to read and write. Sang Ly, desperate to change her family’s circumstances, goes to Sopeap and begs her to teach her how to read and write. But soon, Sang Ly doesn’t only want to read and write- she wants to learn about literature. And what she finds in literature changes her life forever.

This book was absolutely amazing, especially considering that it was based on a real story. It was fascinating, gaining an insight into how, even in a dump, a sense of community, and love abounds. The novel itself is an incredible insight into the power of education, especially literature, which is something that many of us take for granted in our day-to-day lives. The novel also explores how some concepts are universal in literature, like love, luck, and happiness- common threads that tie all literature of the world together. The author did an amazing job of showing the kindness and humanity that are present even in the most adverse of circumstances.

I would give this book a 9.5 out of 10. Although it became a bit bland in places, it was absolutely a life-changing book about knowledge and compassion.

-Vaidehi B.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

How to Remedy Reading Slumps

I’m not sure if this happens to everyone, but sometimes I just don’t want to read. I absolutely love reading, but sometimes I just can’t bring myself to sit down with a good book. Most of the time I can’t focus on a book because something else is drawing my focus away. When this is the case, I have a dry spell of not reading, and by the time I actually have the time to read, I have forgotten the previous chapter and can’t get back into the book.

Now I’ve been through my fair share of what I call “reading slumps” and there are a few things that I like to do to get back into my reading groove.

The first thing I like to do is set a time that I’m going to start reading and commit to it. Usually, this means the upcoming weekend, very late at night. I find that when I read late at night, it reduces the number of distractions I have. My family is usually off watching TV or asleep, and the notifications on my phone are a minimum.

The second thing I do is pick the right book. I may be right in the middle of a great book, and in that case, I’d continue reading it, but sometimes I’m in a lull in between books. So, to help get me back into reading, I would reread an easier book. I would pick books that I already know that I’ll love and could fly through and enjoy them. Some quick recommendations would be Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan if you wanted some Greek mythology/fantasy. For a simple and charming young adult romance, a fantastic series is The Selection by Kiera Cass. And for a more contemporary book, any Nicola Yoon book is amazing!

Finally, the last thing I do is make sure that I have a comfortable spot to read. Whether you enjoy reading at a desk or in your bed, make sure that you are comfortable! This is because the less you are worried about external factors, the more you can focus on your book. Oh, and a bonus would be to sneak in a couple of snacks to munch on throughout your read.

I hope some of these tips help you come out of whatever reading slump may occur. Happy reading!

-Katherine L.

Passion For Reading

There was a time in my life when I talked about books as though they were sustenance, as though they were essential to my survival. I devoured stories and inhaled pages. I vividly remember checking out four, five, six books at time and somehow finishing them all before the two weeks were up.

Though that experience is shared with many people, a majority of adults fail to make time for reading.

I often wonder where that passion goes.

To most people, reading is thought of as a chore, or something for the forgotten bottom end of a to-do list. Reading is a fizzling New Year’s Resolution. Reading is a Barnes & Noble credit card but dusty shelves.

When people talk about getting back into reading, it is as though they are starting a new project at work, as though they are radically changing their schedules.

New units of time have to be carved out of a schedule, clearly labeled “READ” in blocky black lettering. Books fill shopping bags, along with all the obviously necessary accessories to reading – fancy bookmarks and clip on lights and slogan-laden tote bags – because now, you are a Reader.

There is something lost in this frenzy. In this sort of Oprah’s Book Club, unbroken-spine kind of reading, books are a status symbol.

I find myself in this rut occasionally. Rearranging and rearranging the same shelves with an obsessiveness, buying War and Peace and Les Miserables because they’re the sort of books a pretentious academic like myself should have.

I miss that feeling that all library-bound children have. That feeling that there were an infinite amount of words in the world, and if I only read fast enough, flipped enough pages, then I would be able to drink them all in.

So many people have a desire to read; to become that excited kid again. We want to be the one who’s not only Heard of That, but Read It. We want to know authors and quotes and have worn paperbacks to pass on to friends and family. We want to feel that love and intensity that stories used to inspire.

I truly believe that feeling is still inside every adult today. Maybe it’s buried under stress and deadlines and distraction, but it’s there.

All we have to do is find the right book.

-Zoe K., 11th grade

Find your right book at the Mission Viejo Library. Titles are also available to download through Overdrive and Hoopla.

Inspire a Passion for Reading

We all love to read. And as a Senior Girl Scout, deciding what to base my Gold Award project on was a no-brainer: reading. The Gold Award is the highest level of achievement in Girl Scouts—the equivalent of reaching Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts. For my project, I wanted to take my love of reading and expand the opportunities reading has for children. With the help of my take action team, I created children’s library programs that provided working parents with a free and safe place for their children after-school.

Through my project I was able to share my love of reading with kids from our community. I am so glad that I was able to use my passion to inspire others. I can say on behalf of all the volunteers who participated in my project that teaching children to read was an invaluable experience. Completing my Gold Award has taught me to be a thoughtful leader by listening to the ideas of others on my team. I also learned what it must be like for librarians and teachers to see the joy and understanding on a child’s face. It is truly incredible to be a part of their journey learning to read and experimenting with different genres and ways of reading.

Now that I have completed my project, I definitely recommend teens in our community to create their own ways of encouraging reading. Get creative! Maybe just by writing a blog about how you wish to promote reading, someone will be inspired to do the same. If we all share our experiences and our thoughts on the importance of reading, I am certain that we will have an impact in our community. Interview a teacher or a librarian—they are some of the best examples of how teaching children to read benefits them in the future. Research the facts showing the impact that reading has on the lives of children. Whether or not you choose to take action, I hope that my review of my experience will inspire others to join me encouraging reading. Together we can share our love of books with the people around us. But don’t forget to educate and inspire others to follow your lead!

I encourage you to think about ways you can use your love of reading to benefit others. Whether it’s on a local, national, or global level, your ideas can inspire and motivate people to take action. Please leave me a comment telling me what ideas you have for spreading the love of reading and some ways you think we can accomplish it together!

-Kelsey H.