I won a writing competition when I was in secondary school. I had a collection of silver and bronze badges sitting in my cupboard at home so coming first was an exciting development. To win, I had to write one sentence to sum up why I thought people should read (NB: how many words do you have to write to make it a legitimate writing competition?).
My prize was any book of my choice. I can’t remember which I chose. But I can still remember the essence of what I wrote to win it: “People should read books because they can transport us to a world that we didn’t know could exist”.
Though the world around us seems to shrink with each passing day and each newly written piece of code, there are still so many things that continue to divide us. But reading? Somehow that overcomes barriers that other things cannot. Today’s World Book Day “is designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.” To get 100 countries to agree on anything is certainly something worth sitting up and paying attention to.
Books have performed an incredible feat to endure the recent seismic shifts and developments in technology. They didn’t just endure though; they thrived. Yes, they have changed and adapted. We can carry hundreds of books in our bags thanks to the wonders of the e-Book. We can communicate directly with our favourite authors via Twitter. We can be part of international book groups via Goodreads. But I honestly don’t believe you can replace the essence of a book with code and numbers.
Every book is a work of art. Each enticing and well-thought-out cover hides the tears and sweat and rejection that was often its beginning. It welcomes us into the world of its pages – the finished work a monument to the incredible skills of the author, the editor, the designer, the administrator, the intern, the lawyer, the accountant, the marketer, the bookseller. Even that doesn’t quite cover all the other key characters essential to the birthing of a book.
I never appreciated the amount of sacrifice and dedication that is put into the production of a book until I worked at a publisher. Books are a true labour of love and are so worthy of praise as an art form. So it is hugely encouraging to see the efforts of World Book Day as they strive to give millions of children access to literature by providing them with free books and tokens.
This year I’ve re-dedicated myself to the art of the book. My Book Challenge has reenergized my love of being transported to that new world that I dreamt about when I was in school. Whether you love reading or have only ever done it under extreme duress, I hope you too get to rediscover how brilliant books can be and that your day is full of dog-eared pages and one minute downloads and extraordinary (or ordinary!) wanders into the pages of your favourite read.
Happy World Book Day!
Find out more about World Book Day on their campaign website.
World Book Day also gives people the opportunity to raise funds for Book Aid International. Visit their website and find out more about their incredible work.