The best message an author can get

I recently got a Reddit PM from a reader of Without Their Permission that absolutely made my week and he allowed me to share it.

Getting on the bestseller list is great, but getting an email like this is everything for an author. You write a book because you hope it takes someone away from their life for a few hours to really open up a new way of thinking. In this case, helping them help themselves change their life in a material way for the better.

Ben, your choices are going to pay dividends for you the rest of your life and I'm hoping to hear from you over the years as you keep leveling up. Thank you so much for this note. And thank you for your service.

If you don't like images, here's a copy of the text:

Hey Alexis,

I messaged you on Facebook and I'm not sure you'll get it, so I figured I'd try to reach you here as well to tell you how you've helped me.

A little over two years ago, I was a Marine deployed on the Naval ship USS Bataan. At this point, I had left college at the University of Rhode Island because I just didn't care about learning, I guess I just never had a passion for learning. Anyway, I magically saw Without Their Permission in the ship library and decided to check it out. After reading it I was completely inspired, and began teaching myself Javascript. For once, I loved learning--and it was because of your book. I spent every waking minute immersing myself in Javascript and learning about startups. This eventually led me to begin reapplying to college to continue down the path of education that your book took me on.

I ended up interviewing for a leadership scholarship to Dartmouth College, and they thought my story of becoming passionate about code was compelling enough to award me a full scholarship. I just started school this fall, and I'm loving it.

At a recruiting lunch on Tuesday, I was asked about how I began coding and immediately mentioned reading your book a few years ago. Recalling all of these memories made me want to reach out to you and thank you. I'm not sure what your book was doing in the ship's library, among dry manuals about military tactics and such. All I know is that I'm extremely thankful that you wrote such an inspirational book, and that it happened to be there for me.


Ben [Redacted]

11 responses
Nice blog, thanks for sharing wonderful information.
I just found your site and just saying its definitely making the world suck less. Keep up the good work.
Thank you very much, Lloyd + Jay!
What is the name of the book please? I searched Alexis Ohanian on amazon did not see javascript book...great msg btw :) thank you
Ah, my book isn't about JS, that's why -- here's the link:
Hi Alexis, I can't find any other way to contact you I have been trying for days but I was wondering if I could have a brief conversation with you. I am just curious about something having to do with starting a website. I DM'd your Instagram. I know you also now have my email. I looked on Twitter but I am new and don't know how to DM you, I couldn't find the option.
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