Being an author is something that requires time, patience, and the passion to weave words in a way that will expand the reader’s mind. There are countless books out there in the world that are waiting to be read by all walks of life and an unquantifiable amount to be written. Many of these ideas and books have something to say about life, politics, science, love, death, and everything else the world has to offer. That’s why it’s important to show appreciation for the craft of writing and that’s why November 1st is National Author’s Day.
For those not initiated, National Author’s Day began in 1928 with the president of the Bement, Illinois Women’s Club, Nellie Verne Burt McPherson. A teacher and an avid reader, McPherson wrote a fan letter to one of her favorite authors, Irving Bacheller while recuperating in the hospital. Bacheller returned the appreciation by sending the teacher a signed copy of one of his short stories.
McPherson realized that she may never be able to thank the author adequately and decided to show her gratitude by submitting the idea for National Author’s Day to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. By May 1929, the club endorsed the special day honoring American writers and the United States Department of Commerce made it so in 1949. To show our admiration for the craft of writing, 24/7 Shop At Home wishes to share some authors that you will enjoy, be enlightened and entertained by.
James Baldwin is a writer, playwright, and activist who is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Baldwin arrived on the scene with his novel Go Tell It on the Mountain that earned acclaim from readers and fellow writers. One of Baldwin’s greatest short stories, Sonny’s Blues, appears in many anthologies of short fiction used in introductory college literature classes as well as other pieces of his work.
The passionate writer and great thinker would, later on, say that “The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him.” A strong advocate for the LGBTQ community, Baldwin was one of the inaugural fifty American "pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes" inducted on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor within the Stonewall National Monument.
Ray Bradbury once said, “I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library.” The fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery fiction author is most well-known for Fahrenheit 451. Yet, his works such as The Martain Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, I Sing the Body Electric and more had earned the writer a 2007 Pulizer Citation.
The New York Times has called Bradbury “The writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream” back in 2012.
American novelist Truman Capote helped a young Bradbury by including his short story Homecoming in The O. Henry Prize Stories (regarded as the nation’s most prestigious awards for short fiction) as one of the best in 1947. Bradbury has left such a mark on many people, that NASA gave him a fitting memorial when they landed a rover on Mars a few months after his death in 2012. The site where Mars Curiosity touched down would later be named "Bradbury Landing."
The talented writing of Amy Tan has been a benchmark in the literary world since releasing her novel The Joy Luck Club. Tan was born in the U.S. from immigrants parents from China and her stories explore mother-daughter relationships and the Chinese-American experience. The Joy Luck was translated into 25 languages and was later turned into a 1993 major motion movie that Tan co-wrote and still is culturally significant to this day. Other than being a writer, Tan is a co-founder of the LymeAid 4 Kids Foundation that helps uninsured children pay for treatment. She once was the singer of a band called Rock Bottom Remainders with other authors but continues to write books that cross racial barriers.
Amy Tan had a few words when it came to using books to understand other cultures and lives. “When you read about the lives of other people, people of different circumstances or similar circumstances, you are part of their lives for that moment.” She continues, “You inhabit their lives, and you feel what they're feeling, and that is compassion. If we see that reading does allow us that, we see how absolutely essential reading is.”
I grew up reading Shel Silverstein’s poetry and books and the author’s words still resonate with many others to this day. The writer’s works include A Light in the Attic, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Giving Tree, and Falling Up but was also an accomplished cartoonist and musician. Silverstein got his start in drawing while serving in the army and using his talent in their magazine Stars and Stripes. It would take a friend to convince Silverstein to apply his skill as a writer and cartoonist to create books for children.
Often compared to Dr. Seuss, Silverstein’s writing has been credited with helping young readers develop an appreciation of poetry, and his serious verse reveals an understanding of common childhood anxieties and wishes. Silverstein as been quoted on writing by saying, “If you want to find out what a writer or a cartoonist really feels, look at his work. That's enough.” The writer was later inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.
The author of It, Cujo, The Dark Tower, and The Shawshank Redemption has become synonymous with the world of horror, supernatural fiction, and suspense. Finding his love for writing from the likes of Richard Matheson and H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King would go on to write several novels that turned into critical and commercially successful movies. Called the “King of Horror”, his first novel, Carrie, catapulted the young writer into the world of literature and hasn’t stopped writing since. He was also part of the band Rock Bottom Remainders alongside fellow writer Amy Tan.
King understands the importance of books and their power to which is why he donates $4 million each year to libraries, schools as well as local fire departments. During an interview, King has said that “Every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones.”
The Pulitzer and Nobel Prize recipient was known for writing stories that were an examination of the black American experience in an unjust society. Toni Morrison’s characters would struggle to find themselves and their cultural identity. Her use of fantasy, sinuous poetic style, and the talent to connect her storytelling in a mythic manner, gave each tale strength and texture. Morrison’s book, Song of Solomon, brought the author to national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her downstream of books would continue to receive acclaim and inspired a flourish of black women writers.
Morrison’s encouraging words for future authors were, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” She would later write children’s books with her son Slade Morrison such as The Who’s Got Game? Series, Please Louise, and The Book About Mean People. Her work and legacy have been felt across the world in such a profound way, that Toni Morrison would be on the receiving end of Presidential Medal of Freedom.
These authors are just a drop in the large bucket of great American writers that words will live on in many generations. A few great ideas to celebrate National Author’s Day or just to show your appreciation for writers is to purchase some books by your favorite author, share your favorite novels online or on social media. It’s never too late to pick up a new book and discover what’s inside.