I’ve never been a fan of anniversary stories, particularly when they are the 7th, 23rd or 36th anniversary of some event. I mean, geez, every day is the anniversary of an awful lot of stuff. However, I can sometimes tolerate looking back 10, 20 and 50 years later.
One anniversary occurred last month that caught my attention even though it barely hit any other radars in this what-did-he-tweet-today world in which we now live. (They did talk about it on NPR, the same outlet that caught hell last week for tweeting the actual words of the Declaration of Independence. Hyperpartisans knee-jerked angry tweets at NPR because they thought the words were anti-Trump.)
Twenty years ago, the first Harry Potter book hit store shelves in Britain — a place where they weren’t big fans of the Declaration of Independence but at least understood it was about King George III. It wasn’t long before the books hit shelves in American bookstores.
With more than 500 million Harry Potter books sold since then, J.K Rowling has done quite well for herself. More importantly, she turned kids — and a fair share of adults — into avid readers. Other writers have ignited a passion for reading, but no one has done it to the degree of Ms. Rowling.
So, to Ms. Rowling, on behalf of the writers who’ve sold slightly less than 500 million books, thank you for doing for others what Mark Twain did for me long ago. I’ve never read a single page of a Harry Potter book, but your wizardry is most appreciated.
Something else of note in the reading world this year comes from the Pew Research Center, which gauges how things smell. They also study trends and found that sales of e-books are plummeting while sales of paperbacks and hardbacks are on the rise. Apparently, I’m not the only person who likes the feel of an actual book over electronic devices.
I feel the same way about e-readers that I do about vegetarianism — you should all do it because it’s better for the environment, but it’s too late for me. I love the feel of a real book with ink on paper in my hands almost as much as I love a double-chili-cheeseburger in my hands.
I’ve published books in both electronic and print formats, but I’ve never read a story on an electronic device. Sure, I’ve read newspaper articles, instruction manuals and emails from angry preachers telling me I’m going to hell for all eternity on electronic devices, but a good story deserves more permanence. You don’t want to drop and break your copy of “The Old Man and the Sea” even if you’re done reading it. It should rest on a shelf forever more in a place of honor.
That Pew study also found that while 65 percent of Americans read a printed book in the past year compared to only 28 percent of Americans who’d read an e-book. Disturbingly, though, it found 25 percent read no book of any kind in the past year.
By all means, whether it’s Harry Potter or my new Barry Dotter series and whether it’s an e-book or a real book, read something. Read often. Read varying genres and entertain differing viewpoints. It could prevent you from becoming ignorant.
Even if you’re already ignorant, read something. It just might cure you. You might want to start with something simple — like the Declaration of Independence.
“The Best of Chris Johnson, Volume II” is now available at KudzuKid.com.