Mental Floss’ November issue focuses on all things books. Camille Dodero profiles bestselling author James Patterson, he of the thrillers and love stories and multiple series and picture books. Patterson loves writing (longhand, every day!), and he loves reading. He’s using his millions to make sure people around the world have the chance to read and write, too:
In 2013, he took out a full-page ad in The New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly advocating for government intervention to help save America’s books, bookstores, and libraries. He also established a grant program for school libraries. Two months in, the fund had 28,000 requests. “Twenty-eight thousand just saying, ‘Please help us: We haven’t been able to buy books in seven years, we don’t have a librarian, the shelves are literally falling apart, how can we put books in here?” In 2015, Patterson raised his school contribution to $1.75 million.
Though Patterson’s mass appeal and rapid turnout make him a source of derision in some circles, the author isn’t deterred.
In addition to $1 million in grants to U.S. booksellers in 2014, Patterson topped off his commitment to boosting independent bookstores with around $170,000 in grants to British and Irish independents this year. It’s worth noting that these types of stores are, generally speaking, the places that would steer customers away from his books. No matter to him. “I have never been a fan of payback,” he says. “It’s a good thing to do.”