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Friday, March 27, 2015

How Do You Celebrate Author Birthdays?


Recently, I learned it was Bach’s birthday.  Happy 330!  But who keeps track of birthdays for writers?

I stumbled upon a few sites that track the birthdays of select writers though it’s not clear what they use as a basis for including someone.

FamousBirthdays.com features author birthdays by their birth state.  Alabama had 27, including Harper Lee, Helen Keller, and Zig Ziglar.  California had 36, including John Steinbeck, Tony Robbins, and Rick Warren. New York featured 36, including Joyce Carol Oates, JD Salinger, Danielle Steel, James Baldwin, and Ann Coulter.

Scholastic.com celebrated the birthdays of authors and illustrators of books for children up to high school.  From Edgar Allan Poe to others, short biographies were given along with their birthdate.

PagePulp.com, which claimed “more babies are born in the summer than any other time of the year,” identified July as a popular month for writers, including the birth of Franz Kafka, E B White, Henry David Thoreau, Ernest Hemingway, George Bernard Shaw, and Beatrix Potter.

AuthorBirthdays.blogspot.com highlights birth and death dates of a handful of authors daily.

LitBirthdays.wordpress.com honors the birthdays of writers, extending beyond books and into music, television, and those who wrote papers and documents, such as historians, judges, and comedians.

LibraryBooklists.org/literarybirths seems pretty thorough.  It lists up to ten people per day, and shares information about the authors’ accomplishments.  Almost all of the people listed are dead, so it skews to the past.

What should one do to honor the birthday of a writer they have enjoyed?  I suppose you can use that day to read about that writer, read or reread his or her works, and spend time talking to others about how wonderful that writer was and what he or she means to you.

Birthdays are more accidental than planned.  There is a randomness attached to them.  More important than a birthday would be the moments that have no dates, those special seconds that define who that writer is and will become.  They may not even have known it at the time, but they had to have had a series of moments that came to inform and create the writer in them.  We should celebrate such moments.

As time goes by it’ll be harder to determine which writer’s birthday should be added to the list.  There is a growing crowd of writers.  Will we only remember those whose books sold well or those that won awards (which ones, how many?)?  Will we recall those who had one big book that, by itself, is worthy of honoring an entire life?  Will we recall the birthdays of great writers but lousy human beings?  Shall we celebrate the birthdays of writers who came to influence society, politics, or professional standards?

We can honor writers and their birthdays by continuing to read their books, discuss and share them with others, and continually examine or revise their relevance to today’s world.  Eventually, some, if not many writers who are valued today will be forgotten and cast aside to make room for newer, more influential ones.  And they too will have birthdays to be celebrated.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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