Why everyday should be World Book Day
I confess, I’m a hopeless bibliophile. From precious childhood books including my well-worn Roald Dahls, to an extensive collection of kitchen based cookery books, referred to on a daily basis, and the ‘library of the macabre’ as the other half calls my crime archive, I reckon it must be about 500. And that’s not even counting his equally vast collection of science, pedagogy, music and fiction. Cicero’s words, ‘a house without books is like a body without a soul’ are jubilantly echoed by Dr Seuss who tells us to ‘Fill your house with books, In all the crannies and all the nooks’. But what would Marie Kondo say to that?
World Book Day was set up in 1995 by UNESCO to celebrate books, authors and encourage young people to discover the pleasures of reading. But it might be argued this has been a World Book Year as lockdown saw more people than ever turn to the escapism and the pleasures of reading. Books have offered a welcome retreat from a strange, often frightening world and it’s telling that book sale trends have lent towards fantasy and escapism and away from the Dystopian.
In this era of Zoom and online technology, we’ve never had to spend so much time staring at other people’s bookshelves. The most popular backdrop for anyone wishing to lend gravitas to their persona and words, it’s been claimed ‘bookshelves are the new black’ and that everyone wants Quarantine’s hottest accessory, a ‘credibility bookshelf.’ You can even find information on how to curate the perfect book backdrop for Zoom Meetings. It’s a Yes to Classics and ‘appropriate’ autobiographies, a no to Sex Manuals or Dummies Guides.
Those who genuinely love books see this relegation from beloved object to status wallpaper as depressing but it’s a growing market. Bristol-based Bookbarn International supply books for TV and film sets. They’ve seen a rise in homeworkers ordering their own book backdrops. Country House Library UK and Booksbymetre.com also sell books for their aesthetic and visual properties, rather than for reading. It makes us think about what books are and where their value lies. Are they about presenting an outward display of intellect and culture? Or is it about how they affect us inside?
It was Mark Zuckerberg, the godfather of social media who famously discovered books for himself. The Facebook founder who’s indirectly done much to reduce reading attention spans, made this momentous discovery in 2015 claiming, ‘Books allow you to fully immerse yourself in a topic in a deeper way than most media today.’ I couldn’t agree more. Books are the original pre-digital portal that can take you on a journey of discovery. They allow readers to grow, learn, expand, transform, become. You are never alone with a book and the capacity to enrich and enlighten us are immeasurable. And, that’s why everyday should be World Book Day.
We’ve created a That’s Not My Age book store on Bookshop, which includes everything from comforting lockdown reads to recommendations by our brilliant podcast guests and books which will unleash your inner activist. There’s tonnes on there to inspire you, and every sale will help financially support local, independent bookshops.