Today, the first of March 2018, is being celebrated as World Book Day. It is apparently the twenty first edition of the occasion, and I only just found out about it. Not that we readers need one specific day in the year to celebrate books; we do that year round. From what I found out, World Book Day is a celebration of authors, illustrators, books, and the very act of reading. The aim is to encourage people to explore the pleasures of books and reading, by providing opportunities to read books.
Now this makes sense. Many might not have access to literature on a regular basis, so it is important that books are made more accessible. I donate books twice a year – once at an annual art festival that creates a bookstallation – an installation made entirely out of donated books, that is dismantled at the end of the festival and the books are distributed among underprivileged readers. The second time is to a book-based organization that collects books from donors and sells them at secondhand rates, the proceeds of which go to a center the organization is tied up with that works with underprivileged children. As many old libraries are shutting down in the electronic age, a thought needs to be spared for those who might not be able to afford e-readers or frequently buy new books from bookshops. Sharing books helps make more literature available.
World Book Day also serves as a reminder to those who might have been avid readers in the past, but have let go of that hobby over the years. Very often I encounter people who devoured books throughout their school and college years, but then got tied up with work, marriage, family, and subsequently never touched a book in almost fifteen to twenty years. And they really don’t know how to get back. They vaguely remember the titles and/or authors of the classics but are unable to hold a conversation about the context of the book, or even the current books/authors in the market. In such cases, I recommend short stories or poetry – smaller reads to get back into the habit of reading. Full-fledged novels come across as intimidating due to the length, and non-fiction feels boring to many who have not been in touch with reading. Graphic book reccos also work nicely. It’s never to late to Restart old hobbies.
The third category that comes to mind are people who love buying books and showing off their collection and home libraries, but don’t really read the books. They are bibliophiles in the true sense of the word, meaning they like books, but their fondness lies more in the possession than in the reading. And books lying in wait on shelves are not what books are written for. This category I really don’t know what to do with. In spite of all their claims of an undying love for literature, they can’t hold a conversation about books because they don’t read any. All they do is send photographs of book buys, and forward images and articles from Goodreads and other book sites, and are the most active in book clubs with their presence rather than constructive contribution. It gets annoying after a while and I choose to stay away. The time saved from interacting with “non-reader bibliophiles” can be nicely spent in actually reading a book.