CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

10 Literary Holidays

Original image
Getty Images

Bibliophiles know there's no wrong time to fete your favorite book or author. But if you want company—at least among a certain subset of the population—in your celebration, plan a party for one of these delightful literary holidays.

1. January 25: Burns Supper

Popular throughout the United Kingdom, and especially Scotland, this celebration (which goes by several other names depending on what you call the nation's premier poet—Robert Burns, Robbie Burns or even Rabbie Burns) features a set menu of Scottish favorites, including haggis, which is addressed in the verses of Burns himself. Other poems are read, speeches of appreciation are performed and, in the case of more formal iterations, the night ends with dancing.

2. March 2: National Read Across America Day, or Dr. Seuss Day

This soon-to-be 17-year-old celebration is an opportunity for the National Education Association to encourage parents, teachers, and children to share their love of reading. And what better day to do so than on the great Dr. Seuss' birthday?

3. March 4: National Grammar Day

Founded in 2008 by Martha Brockenbrough, who also founded the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, this is a day to snuggle up to your favorite style guide. You could also participate in the annual Twitter-based, grammar-themed haiku contest. Snarkily policing other people's grammar is not condoned.

4. May 20: Eliza Doolittle Day

While celebrating this holiday might only appeal to theater nerds and Audrey Hepburn afficionados, the origin of the date is a story worth telling. In Act 1 of My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle imagines meeting the king and sings: "One evening the king will say, 'Oh, Eliza, old thing — I want all of England your praises to sing. Next week on the twentieth of May, I proclaim Eliza Doolittle Day.'" And so now it is.

5. June 16: Bloomsday

One of the most well-known book-based holidays, Bloomsday derives its name from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of James Joyce's Ulysses, and is set on the day that the entirety of the book takes place. Most popular in Joyce's Dublin, the Stateside celebration centers at Philadelphia's Rosenbach Museum & Library, home to the handwritten manuscript of Ulysses.

6. July 4, 5, and 6: National Tom Sawyer Days

Oh you thought the Fourth of July was just Independence Day? Well, in the Hannibal, Missouri hometown of Mark Twain, it's also part of a multi-day honoring of the classic American author. Activities are based on scenes from Twain's books, including a frog long jump and a fence painting contest.

7. July 10: Clerihew Day

Chief among the niche nature of the holidays on this list, Clerihew Day celebrates the eponymous poem form invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley on the English author's birthday. While you might not know it by name, the clerihew is a sing-songy poem that most people have encountered in jest. The general form is four lines consisting of rhyming couplets AA/BB that starts with a person's name and tells you something, often mocking, about the subject.

8. July 16 to 21: Hemingway Days

This July will mark the 34th time that fans of Ernest Hemingway's work and persona gather to engage in a week of emulating the Pulitzer Prize-winning Papa in Key West, where he spent many productive years. Attendees will participate in look-alike contests, readings, and a marlin fishing tournament, among other Hemingway-approved events.

9. September 22: Hobbit Day

Celebrated on the fictional birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, Hobbit Day actually caps off an entire Tolkien week—described as "the calendar week containing September 22" by the American Tolkien Society, which first marked the holiday in 1978.

10. October 16: Dictionary Day

Of course, any day is a good day to broaden your lexical library, but the birthday of Noah Webster is a particularly apt occasion.

Original image
Kyle Ely
arrow
school
Dedicated Middle School Teacher Transforms His Classroom Into Hogwarts
Original image
Kyle Ely

It would be hard to dread back-to-school season with Kyle Ely as your teacher. As ABC News reports, the instructor brought a piece of Hogwarts to Evergreen Middle School in Hillsboro, Oregon by plastering his classroom with Harry Potter-themed decor.

The journey into the school's makeshift wizarding world started at his door, which was decorated with red brick wall paper and a "Platform 9 3/4" sign above the entrance. Inside, students found a convincing Hogwarts classroom complete with floating candles, a sorting hat, owl statues, and house crests. He even managed to recreate the starry night sky effect of the school’s Great Hall by covering the ceiling with black garbage bags and splattering them with white paint.

The whole project cost the teacher around $300 to $400 and took him 70 hours to build. As a long-time Harry Potter fan, he said that being able to share his love of the book series with his students made it all pay off it. He wrote in a Facebook post, "Seeing their faces light up made all the time and effort put into this totally worth it."

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Though wildly creative, the Hogwarts-themed classroom at Evergreen Middle School isn't the first of its kind. Back in 2015, a middle school teacher in Oklahoma City outfitted her classroom with a potions station and a stuffed version of Fluffy to make the new school year a little more magical. Here are some more unique classroom themes teachers have used to transport their kids without leaving school.

[h/t ABC News]

Images courtesy of Kyle Ely.

Original image
Tim Boyle/Getty Images
arrow
literature
How the Rise of Paperback Books Turned To Kill a Mockingbird Into a Literary Classic
Original image
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

If you went to middle or high school in the U.S. in the last few decades, chances are you’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's now-classic novel (which was adapted into a now-classic film) about racial injustice in the South. Even if you grew up far-removed from Jim Crow laws, you probably still understand its significance; in 2006, British librarians voted it the one book every adult should read before they die. And yet the novel, while considered an instant success, wasn’t always destined for its immense fame, as we learned from the Vox video series Overrated. In fact, its status in the American literary canon has a lot to do with the format in which it was printed.

To Kill a Mockingbird came out in paperback at a time when literary houses were just starting to invest in the format. After its publication in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was reviewed favorably in The New York Times, but it wasn’t the bestselling novel that year. It was the evolution of paperbacks that helped put it into more hands.

Prior to the 1960s, paperbacks were often kind of trashy, and when literary novels were published in the format, they still featured what Vox calls “sexy covers,” like a softcover edition of The Great Gatsby that featured a shirtless Jay Gatsby on the cover. According to a 1961 article in The New York Times, back in the 1950s, paperbacks were described as “a showcase for the ‘three S’s—sex, sadism, and the smoking gun.’” But then, paperbacks came to schools.

The mass-market paperback for To Kill a Mockingbird came out in 1962. It was cheap, but had stellar credentials, which appealed to teachers. It was a popular, well-reviewed book that earned Lee the Pulitzer Prize. Suddenly, it was in virtually every school and, even half a century later, it still is.

Learn the whole story in the video below from Vox.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios