Observing an unofficial holiday

By William Baker - Contributing Writer

Wednesday is Book Lovers Day, an unofficial holiday or observance that encourages people to pick up a book (or two) and spend the day reading. Unless you are retired or unemployed, you might quarrel with the idea that the day is a “holiday.”

On the other hand, if you are a parent, a teacher, a librarian or a book lover at any stage in life, you might want to encourage your family and friends to join with you in treating it as a red-letter day that deserves attention.

On the ninth of this month, honor all the bookworms and book lovers in your life. If you are a book lover, then treat yourself to some quality reading time.

Some internet sources have indicated that this day is also known as National Book Lovers Day in the United States. The origin of the designation appears to be a mystery, and the observance is not as widely practiced as most librarians, book stores, and parents would like.

With those thoughts in mind, perhaps a mystery or a thriller would be appropriate for Tri-State residents to launch the day. If not, this area of the country that is rich in history, folklore, legends, and music and that has excellent public libraries will provide a wide variety of books to start with.

Edgar A. Holt’s book, Claiborne County (in the Tennessee History Series), Ann Dudley Matheny’s book, The Magic City: Footnotes to the History of Middlesborough, Kentucky, and Robert L. Kincaid’s classic, The Wilderness Road, are excellent studies of this region, its rich history, and its people.

Another, perhaps lesser well-known book might appeal specifically to those who live in Bell and Harlan counties. It is entitled Memoirs by John Ed Pearce, and includes a chapter on Pineville, where he lived as a child, plus stories of Harlan County’s Senator Nick Johnson, Kentucky politics across the years, mining, and other interesting tales from 50 years at the Louisville Courier-Journal. Recognized as an outstanding newspaper writer who won a Pulitzer Prize, Pearce authored eight books during his lifetime.

Also in the category of a memoir, though more recent than Pearce’s book, is Hillbilly Elegy published in 2016 and still on the nation’s best seller lists. The author is J.D. Vance who is described as having grown up “…in the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky.”

Of the folks he grew up with, Vance says “Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks, or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends, and family.”

The references to specific books might enlist a new group of Book Lovers and might encourage them to read more and to share their love of reading with children, young people, friends, and others. If so, observing an unofficial holiday in August would make some sense.

William H. Baker, Claiborne County native and former Middlesboro resident, may be contacted at wbaker@limestone.edu

By William Baker

Contributing Writer

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