The Wonders Inside

World Book and Copyright Day 23 April 2022 is the focus of the Newsletter this month with contributions from our library colleagues and others. UNESCO chose this day in 1995 as World Book Day on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and also of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

The Guardian newspaper in the UK used to run a regular column, 'A book that changed me', in which they invited well-known people to pick a book and explain what and how it made an impact on them. More recently they have run the 'Books that made me' series.

You may like to think about a book or two that made you or made a change in your own life and be reminded at the same time of the power of the pen and of the written word and of the responsibility of authors and publishers and readers alike.

The love of books was transferred to me by my parents, in particular by my Dad, a voracious bibliophile who would visibly relax and breathe more deeply and slowly as he browsed his bookshelves looking for a reference or his next read.

Books for me are tied up with memories of childhood, of hours sat on the floor at the local library reading and choosing, of book club finds, of stepping into other worlds and experiences from one book to another.

Books for me are companions, teachers, sharers of knowledge, stories and accounts that inform and guide and challenge, friends that I turn to, jesters and historians, philosophers and artists.

Books can be so much, a rendering of or a mirror to the world, a prism or a doorway, a demonstration of love or protest or all of these things at once and more. The stories told and the accounts relayed can serve to teach, to help us to make choices, to appreciate the manifold consequences of events and actions. Books inform us; we become more expert in our field of study, not least of course by those published by when it comes to ethics.

Books are nearly always a gift, something precious to ponder over and treasure. Holding a book, appreciating its cover and sometimes the illustrations, turning the pages, savouring the skill of the writing, breathing in the smell of a new book and admiring the craftsmanship of old, bound books are a pleasure and a joy.

Tied up with books is learning to read them. As a parent, I have witnessed the process and the wonderful moment when letters and words start to jump out of the landscape, when a child stops and starts spelling out shop and road signs and the names on cans and jars and packets, when they grab hold of a book to read themselves instead of being read to.

The world is never the same again when the words that were only shapes are decoded and become pathways to new lands and adventures and knowledge.

Each book I read, like each person I meet, changes me, in subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways. They each have their voice and their point of view and style. The artistry, the breadth and depth of the vision of some authors can take your breath away. I am thinking of some of my personal favourites, of JRR Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, Iris Murdoch, CS Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, HG Wells, Bill Bryson, Jeanette Winterson, Alice Walker and the fabulous Maya Angelou.

This year at this time around World Book and Copyright Day we pay tribute not only to the authors but also to those who taught us to read so patiently and well and to those who put books in our hands and help us to open our eyes to the wonders inside.

Lucy Howe López 
Deputy Executive Director

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