Writers can use their talents to build reading communities throughout the world – and not only through their writing. By supporting bookstores and libraries, authors Mitch Albom and James Patterson are creating audiences for future writers.
This week, Albom established Donated Reading for Youth of The Philippines to reconstruct 10 school libraries destroyed by the super typhoon Yolanda last November. He plans to raise $160,000 in partnership with The National Book Store Foundation, which will match funds until the goal is met. The group hopes to begin construction on the libraries by late spring.
Albom jumpstarted the charity with a $10,000 donation of his own and pledged copies of his books for the libraries’ collections. Dozens of popular writers also agreed to donate their work including Jeff Kinney, Suzanne Collins, Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Amy Tan, John Grisham, JK Rowling, Khaled Hosseini, James McBride, Billy Collins and many more.
“They were all quick to say yes,” Albom said in a statement. “I think we as authors always appreciate the effort people make to read and cherish their books. That is so true of readers here in the Philippines.”
Last week, Patterson also made good on his pledge to support independent bookstores. In the first round of grants, the novelist donated $267,000 to 54 bookstores across the U.S. He plans to contribute a total of $1 million over the next several months.
“There’s no doubt that reinvigorating a culture of books and reading in this country is exactly what writers need to have happen, in order for their work to spring out and become a career,” Patterson told The Writer. “We can’t lose the power of the local bookshop.”
Writers don’t need to be bestsellers to support their readers. Patterson encourages writers to keep storytelling and “have fun” with local bookstores. He believes writers have a prime opportunity to create events like book treasure hunts and trivia games that invite others to support local books and authors. Aspiring writers in particular should embrace the bookstore community.
“Get involved, chat with the salespeople, befriend the barista, spend time there, mold it into a larger part of your life,” Patterson says. “My family does this, and there are few places I’d rather be.”