Author Lynn Shepherd recently posted a blistering, vindictive, jealousy infused blog on Huffington Post saying JK Rowling should stop publishing books. (Click here to see original article.) Seriously, my screen was leaking envious, small-minded vitriol. I needed a lot of napkins to clean that mess up.
Normally, I like to stay out of the fray, keep this site focused on the books. But this post was so horrendous, it’s impossible not to comment.
In essence Miss Shepherd argues that JK Rowling, who has built a phenomenal worldwide following of dedicated readers, should stop writing books because her books are taking up shelf space that could be used by other authors, more deserving authors.
If anyone has earned her shelf space, it’s JK Rowling. She was writing the Harry Potter series as a single mother with the baby in the carriage next to her. She struggled and she made it. Boy did she make it!
But more than the sour grapes that Miss Shepherd has so clearly displayed, are the disturbing ideas about what people should read. Reading should be enjoyable. Yes, reading should broaden your mind. But being some lengthy tome on modern economics or adult focused plotline does not guarantee a broadening of the mind.
Reading books from the YA market or even earlier are also an important reading subject. They remind us of the innocence of childhood. They remind us that sometimes problems are just black and white and the solutions are clear. We, as adults, are just muddying up the problem with all our adult concerns.
Books aimed at the younger generation remind us why we read: We read to be entertained. We read to jump into a different world. And at times, we read to escape our adult lives and responsibilities.
Everyone should read Harry Potter. I personally have read the whole series. Three times. Because you need a little dose of clear cut good verse evil every once in a while. You need to root for the underdog and you need the underdog to win.
Right now, Miss Shepherd is the underdog. I checked her out on Amazon and she is being slammed with one star reviews. (In her post, she critiqued Rowling without reading a word of her work. People have taken her approach to heart.)
I suppose if I take a page from the Potter series, I should be hoping for some sort of redemption. But I can’t quite bring myself to root for this underdog. Not yet, at least.