Books have always been magical to me. Ever since I was a little child, my love for books has always been a way to escape and often found myself hiding my favorite novels under my schoolbooks during class discussions (yup, I was that student) to keep me awake. Books, in all its shapes, forms, and sizes continue to be a huge part of my life and this is the reason why I always get excited when I meet people who are just as passionate, possibly even more passionate about them than I am.
Books surround Stef Juan every single day. As the acquisitions and book editor at OMF Literature, the largest Christian book publisher and distributor in the country, Stef is in charge of finding and helping writers develop their books, recommending books for importation, scheduling writers’ workshops, and also spearheading the launch of their fiction category.
A graduate of Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines, Stef has had extensive experience in writing and communications as an editor for big named magazines such as People Asia, 24/7, Nocturnal Navigator, Lucerne Luxe, Metro Society, and up until recently, Hola! Philippines.
The switch from magazines to books came as a surprise but when the offer came, Stef grabbed the opportunity as saw it as a chance for her to grow and stretch in her skills as a writer and editor, “It’s not as glamorous as my old job, but I have always loved books and reading.”
Her love affair with books began at home. Her mom previously worked at World Book and as a result, their home was always filled with encyclopedias, books, and magazines. Her family were vicarious readers so as a child she read everything she could get her hands on including Funny Komiks, Marvel and DC superhero comics, and even National Geographic magazines.
For Stef, books provided her younger self with a new reality that was otherwise not possible for her to experience, “The best part of reading when I was younger was the promise of being transported into another world, of living and seeing through somebody else’s eyes and the anticipation of learning just for the sake of learning.” Through the books she has read, she has become different characters and have visited different places.
As an adult, Stef continues to to fall in love with the written word while developing a deeper affection for it “Now that I’m older, words have become my trade, new books are like new friends, some times I learn something new, or learn a new way of seeing things. Sometimes, new books challenge me, or, more often now, articulate thoughts that I have been ruminating on for a long time. And there’s satisfaction in that too. Old favorites are friends and family that I visit and revisit more and more often now. They give me a lot of comfort and reading them again and again is restful for me.”
Despite the many distractions presented to today’s generation, Stef hopes that people will continue to read and devour books, “I believe people need to read more to widen their horizons, to help themselves focus in a world filled with distractions. It takes us out of our own heads and lets us be more aware of the many other point of views in this world. The printed word gives validation to stories outside our own. Reading also helps us think, to challenge status quo and can drive us to keep on making our lives better. I believe good books inspire us to excellence, keeping us from being too self-absorbed, and it’s something that every generation needs.”