JK Rowling Should Stop Writing?

I’m not sure I can make any comments that the astute readers and commenters have made to this post from Huffington Post blogger Lynn Shepherd. But in case you missed it, here’s the link:  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/lynn-shepherd/jk-rowling-should-stop-writing_b_4829648.html

But I do want to comment on these few lines here:

I’ve never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can’t comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults were reading them (rather than just reading them to their children, which is another thing altogether), mainly because there’s so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds.

What the fruitbat?! You’ve never read the Harry Potter books, yet you feel entitled to boldly claim that they are not stimulating enough for grown-up minds? I don’t like Twilight, but I’ve read them. All four. And I’ll admit, the first time through, I did like them. The second time? No. They didn’t hold up. But when I diss them, I can at least say, with all honesty, that I read them.

I read the Harry Potter books when I was in my 20s. I still have them all, the last four as first edition hardbacks (mainly because I didn’t start reading them until Book 3). I love them. I’ve read them countless times. Are they War and Peace or Pride and Prejudice? No. Because they’re not meant to be. They’re a gateway to another world — the world of Hogwarts and magic, yes, but also a gateway to a greater world:  the world of books.

A shame that adults are reading them. Really. For adults who didn’t grow up reading, those books were no less a gateway to reading. The only shame there is that the library tends to look at you a bit funny if you walk in and ask for a YA novel. But they will get it for you. The real shame would be if that gateway had never existed at all. If JK Rowling had given up, abandoned Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and gotten a job in a shop instead.

At 38, “literary” novels leave me cold. The language, the characters, the plots (or lack thereof) . . . I don’t care for most of them. Real life? I live real life. I don’t want to come home and read about real life! I want to read about other things entirely. Magic. Grim reapers in love with the son of Satan. Time travel. For many adults, Harry Potter and other YA novels (Hunger Games, Divergent, Mortal Instruments, etc.) are an escape from reality.

Here’s another thought for you (because this isn’t long enough, right?):  adults who read Harry Potter went out in droves to buy Rowling’s adult novels, which is basically what Ms. Shepherd is griping about in her post. They were buying the author, not the genre. But what if they discovered in the process that they liked these new genres? And they bought other books? Began to expand their reading preferences? Ventured into new areas of the bookstore or the library. Brought those books home. Shared them with their friends and family and children and students. What’s bad about that? In a time when we’re all worried about the publishing industry and the fate of brick-and-mortar bookstores, how is any of that bad?

So, Ms. Shepherd, I think you should be thanking JK Rowling for expanding her horizons into adult fiction. For breaking into new genres. For inviting her readers to go along with her. For encouraging them, silently, to buy those books, support their bookstores and libraries, to read something they might not have picked up otherwise. As an aspiring writer who still hopes to get published soon, I would never in a million years dare tell anyone — let alone someone like JK Rowling — to stop writing.

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