Ever heard of National Author’s Day? Me neither, until recently. About a week ago, I learned that November 1st is a national holiday set aside to honor authors, and right away I knew I wanted to celebrate it here on the blog.
Put simply, the stories I read as I grew up shaped my soul. Of course other influences shaped me too—chiefly my family and church, along with other media like music and films. But I can say without hesitation that, second to the people in my life, the books I read were my most formative teachers.
I owe a mighty debt to authors around the world and across centuries. People sometimes ask who my favorite author is, and it’s a difficult question, because I owe so much to so many. Their stories trained my patterns of thought. They gave me visions of what I was and what I could be. They showed me faces of God I might never have glimpsed otherwise.
So, today, I just want to say thank you to all the authors who shaped some portion of my soul.
Thank you, C. S. Lewis—whom I always have to choose, when it comes down to “my favorite author.” Thank you for always having the right words—the words that clarify, or animate, or convict. Thank you for throwing back the curtains of this world and letting bright eternity shine through the window of your stories.
Thank you, G. K. Chesterton—for being decidedly outside the box, almost outside the world, and finding mirth in everything, be it the content of your pockets or the nature of the God of the universe.
Thank you, J. R. R. Tolkien—for loving good hearts and the good earth, for knowing what a hero is, and for teaching us how to recognize one.
Thank you, Charles Dickens—for taking life seriously, taking sorrow and sacrifice and healing seriously, but not taking yourself too seriously.
Thank you, William Shakespeare—for hurtling into life’s hardest questions, even when you don’t know the answers, and believing that words and worlds aren’t all that different.
Thank you, Jane Austen—for penetrating human appearances, seeing the frailty or the integrity beneath, for rebuking pride and praising patience.
Thank you, Andrew Peterson—for reminding us that pain runs deep but redemption runs deeper, and for being a model today of an old-souled storyteller.
In no special order, thank you to George MacDonald, Dallas Willard, Elisabeth Elliot, N. D. Wilson, Victor Hugo, Lew Wallace, Gjertrud Schnackenberg, Leo Tolstoy, Christmas Carol Kauffman, Charlotte Bronte, Henry James, T. S. Eliot, Mary Shelley, Douglas Kaine McKelvey, Gerard Manley Hopkins, A. A. Milne, George Eliot, Louisa May Alcott, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Oscar Wilde, Christian Wiman, Madeleine L’Engle, Robert Frost… I don’t want to stop; but I have to somewhere.
Thank you to all the authors I have loved. You’ve changed who I am.
If you, like me, wish you could do something to support the writers who’ve touched your life, today is the day to act. Go buy a new book (or an old one), share a copy with a friend, or write a review of a story you love. If you can, send one of your favorite writers a thank-you note, online or the good old-fashioned way, just to encourage them in their calling. This is the month of Thanksgiving! Let’s show our gratitude from day one.