World Book Night is happening this year on April the 23rd, designated by UNESCO as the international day of the book. This day is most befitting as not only is it the death dates of two of the world’s most celebrated writers – William Shakespeare (whose birthday it also happens to be) and Miguel Cervantes – but it is also known in Spain (specifically Catalonia) as “The Day of the Book” where traditionally men give women roses and women give men books. I know who gets the better deal here. For is there a greater gift that one can give to a beloved, family member, close friend, colleague than a book? Books divert, surprise, charm, amaze, astound, instruct, perplex ,enthuse, engage in equal measure. Books can reflect as much as they can inspire. I have always thought that our bookshelves reveal a lot about us as individuals – our likes and dislikes, interests and passions, what it is that makes us human. We are as much as what we read as what we eat. Or think for that matter.
The book itself as an object is a supreme feat of craftsmanship. Perhaps it is becoming even more cherished in the electronic age? (but that’s for another debate) World Book Night is all about celebrating the written word, spreading a love of reading per se, which is why I am delighted to have been chosen as one of several thousand booklovers who will be gifting books in their communities to mark this year’s book-giving jamboree. I have always thought that “a pint and a book” go hand-in-hand. Therefore, on the evening of Monday April 23rd I shall be frequenting a local pub in Brecon, giving away 24 copies of a collection of short stories by that most supreme of storytellers – Roald Dahl – to strangers and drinkers, locals and visitors – perhaps even acquaintances. (Am sure the great Dylan Thomas would approve).
Why not mark this fiesta of book-giving by giving a loved one a book? Am sure that he/she will be delighted. Or, give a stranger a book. You might just change someone’s life. The power of books is endless; I suppose this is their intrinsic beauty. They can stir up imaginative possibilities, console the sorrows of existence and open up the pathways of our hearts. So, go forth and spread the wonder of words. Happy World Book Night.
“We read to know we are not alone” (C.S.Lewis)