Ok, first up: I’m biased. I have a literature degree. I teach literature. Of course I love books. I’m not fussy- I love hardbacks, paperbacks, and eBooks. I love the classics, the highbrows and the cheesy ones. In honour of World Book Day, here are some of the reasons why books are brilliant.
Books = knowledge. When the printing press made books more freely available, more people were able to read, and so knowledge was shared and increased exponentially. Huge socio-political changes came along, transforming the world. I’m not exaggerating.
Books provide a framework for understanding the complexities of the world. If the science is a bit much, well, we have stories. Stories that we use to figure out the apparently incomprehensible, to make sense of pain, to process grief, to understand the depth and range of human emotion, and to contemplate our mortality. We tell ourselves stories to feel better about the dark and scary parts of life. Know where the stories come from? Books.
Books make us better people. Stories encourage empathy, often literally forcing us to walk in someone else’s shoes.
Books are manifestations of our culture and history. They connect us to the world before, and show us the wisdom of the ages. They connect us to a shared history. They are the products of their environment.
Books are magical. Ink on a page can transport us to a different world entirely, making us believe in and care about places and people that only exist in someone’s imagination. We can escape the dreary and the bleak, and go hang out in Narnia if we want. We can go on adventures, fall in love, and seek the Holy Grail in our pyjamas.
Books are the manifestos of the ultimate warriors: writers. Dystopian writers entertain, sure, but they also construct an alternative reality not too far from our own, which makes us re-evaluate what we see when we read the paper, or watch the news. The pen is mightier than the sword, and what is a book if it is not the product of many pens?
Best of all? Books aren’t elite. Reading is a great social equaliser.
Books can break your heart and make you cry. They can lift your spirits and inspire. They can be new and exciting, or as comfy and familiar as a cuppa and a blanky on a chilly day. They can keep you company on a train, and keep you awake at night. They might scare the bejesus out of you. They might, on occasion, make you want to throw them across the room. They might make you roll your eyes and seriously question how they got on the bestseller list. They might stay with you forever. They might give real life people a lot to live up to…
But they will always be brilliant.
So here’s to you, World Book Day, and your raison d’etre: the book 📚 ❤🥂