Those of us who love to read surely understand Prospero's praise in Shakespeare's The Tempest:
Knowing I lov'd my books, he furnish'd me
From mine own library with volumes that I prize above my dukedom.
Good books are treasures beyond compare: sources of wisdom, wit, knowledge, pleasure, historical record, beauty, and so much more that sustains and advances the best of humanity.
Organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), this annual event promotes reading, publishing, and copyright. Book give-aways and free downloads, special readings, literacy campaigns, and other activities illuminate the joy of books.
The original idea for the day came from Spanish writer and editor Vicente Clavel Andrés to observe the death date of Miguel de Cervantes, best known for writing Don Quixote. Coincidentally, it is also the anniversary of Shakespeare's death and the births and deaths of several other well known authors.
To Name this Day:
"There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away ..."
— Emily Dickinson in Mabel Loomis Todd, Letters of Emily Dickinson
"Books ... are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with 'em, then we grow out of 'em and leave 'em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development."
— Dorothy L. Sayers in The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club
"When I was about eight, I decided that the most wonderful thing, next to a human being, was a book."
— Margaret Walker in Brian Lanker's I Dream a World
"In illuminated manuscripts and other books of beauty, it is impossible to separate art, religion, and magic, for all three work together to make their ordinary acts — reading and writing — truly enchanting."
— Thomas Moore in The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life
"I read my books with diligence, and mounting skill, and gathering certainty. I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life."
— Mary Oliver in Blue Pastures
"I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest."
— Helene Hanff in 84, Charing Cross Road
"Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier."
— Kathleen Norris in Hands Full of Living
Films which reveal how much we owe to books — especially for building bonds between people — abound. Here are some of our favorites:
- 84 Charing Cross Road concerns a friendship that springs up through a shared love of out-of-print books.
- The Fault in Our Stars draws us into the lives of two teenagers with cancer who commit to reading each other's favorite book and soon find that they have much to share.
- The Hedgehog includes in its plot an extensive library and two volumes of Tolstoy that help show how culturally different people are very sympatico.
- The Jane Austen Book Club is a deliciously light and entertaining drama about people who love to read and aren’t ashamed of talking about their emotions.
- Liberal Arts shows how a passion for books, music, and intellectual dialogue brings together an enthusiastic college student and a 35-year-old college admissions counselor.
- My Afternoons with Marguerite tells the tale of a woman who loves books and reads aloud to a jack-of-all-trades, opening to him a new experience of wonder and enchantment.
- Night Train to Lisbon reveals how a philosophy book changes a middle-aged professor's life.
- Stone Reader is a lively and an illuminating documentary tribute to the wonderful world of books.
- Visit this page about Making Reading Sacred through enthusiasm, gratitude, hospitality, meaning, and openness. Choose one of the suggestions — something new to you, if possible — to try in your reading today. See if this practice may be one to add to your ongoing repertoire.
- All books may be treasures, but spiritual books are also medicine for the soul. Frederic Brussat, the main book reviewer for S&P, writes about the benefits of this work of reading and reviewing spiritual books. After reading his ideas, write your own list of ten reasons that you love your favorite genre of books.