Agatha Christie is, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s bestseller author because her book sales number over 4 billion copies and have been translated into 44 languages. Just because this is true doesn’t mean everyone should read one of her books for National Author’s Day on November 1, but it certainly is an idea. But being thankful for our own favorite authors on that day is definitely recommended and reading a book by a wonderful writer is one of many possibilities to celebrate it.
Rumor has it that Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, the president of the Bement, Illinois Women’s Club, got the ball rolling for creating the holiday in 1928. But confirmation appears to be elusive. Assuming the credit goes to Nellie might be in question, but the United States Department of Commerce officially recognized the holiday in 1949.
The electronic communication capabilities today allow people to tweet their favorite authors, although a handwritten note to a writer seems more appropriate. On a personal level reading a book by one’s favorite author or gifting a book to a friend are other ways to carry on the celebration.
Or consider writing a book yourself. It’s not a simple task, but if you’ve toyed with the idea before, November 1 and National Author’s Day could be a good time to start.
Reading aloud is mainly a lost pastime that was popular in the days before radio or other electronic entertainment. Melanie Wilkes reads aloud to a gathering of women in Gone With the Wind although the book she reads in the actual book is Les Miserables while the movie version had her reading David Copperfield instead. Jo March read numerous books aloud to her aged Aunt March, but when the elderly woman fell asleep, Jo found other books that were more to her liking to take up her time.
In To Kill a Mockingbird young Jem Finch has to read to Mrs. Dubose for two hours every afternoon after school and on Saturdays to repay her for the damage he did to her garden; however, the reading is not for entertainment but to keep the woman’s mind off her drug addiction. In Pride and Prejudice Mr. Collins seeks to enlighten and entertain the Bennet family with his reading from a book of sermons, but he is soon disgraced into giving up as the Bennet girls giggle and begin to speak over his own voice. Reading aloud now often involves young children and is considered a healthy occupation, but it often ceases once the children can read themselves.
I have an eclectic list of favorite authors from Herman Melville to Fannie Flagg, Gerald Durrell to Harper Lee, Geoffrey Chaucer to Pat Conroy, George Eliot to Stephenie Meyer, and Lisa Wingate to Lou Bayard but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps I’ll need to send a few a note as part of my celebration on National Author’s Day. However you choose to honor this day and the authors you cherish, be sure to pick up one of your beloved books, too!
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