Today is World Book Day – the ‘biggest annual celebration of books and reading in the UK’. When I was a child, there was no such thing as World Book Day, but I would have loved it if there had been!
I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, absolutely devouring anything I
could get my hands on (whether it was age-appropriate or not!). I read
my favourite books over and over again, to the point that I knew not
only the story, but the actual text inside out and backwards. Each time I
read it, I found something new and different; even in children’s
literature, there were layers and nuances that you just couldn’t get the
first time around.
Going back to a much-loved book is like visiting an old friend, and I
still do it (different books, obviously!), yet I know a lot of people
who can only read a book once – they have no interest in re-reading it.
That just seems completely alien to me – I mean, how can you possibly
expect to pick up everything on the first read? It’s like buying a work
of art, but only looking at it once (I know, there’s a lot of
‘literature’ out there that you’d be hard-pushed to call ‘art’, but you
get the drift). I love that thrill when you’re reading an old favourite,
then suddenly find something you hadn’t picked up on before, simply
because you know the story so well now, you don’t have to concentrate on
what’s actually going on. It makes you feel like you’re part of the
book, behind the scenes, in on all the secrets.
Maybe it’s a habit that has to be formed in childhood, and I’m
guessing that not all children do it, since many sadly have little or no
interest in reading at all (hence the importance of initiatives like World Book Day). I noticed the other day, though, that my friend’s eight-year-old daughter is fast wearing out the pages on her Harry Potter books – swap that for an Enid Blyton, and it could’ve been me!
Voting is currently underway for the annual Bookseller / Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year. Since 1978, the most weird and wonderful
book titles have been honoured in the award, with previous winners
including The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: a Guide to Field Identification and The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-miligram Containers of Fromage Frais (I kid you not).
This year, 90 books were nominated, and the shortlist includes Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter and Governing Lethal Behaviour in Autonomous Robots. It’s not just the industry bods who decide this one though – you can vote too …
Don’t you just love books!