World Book Day: A Great Initiative

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Yesterday, the UK and Ireland celebrated World Book Day, a celebration of how important books and reading are, now more than ever. The event, as reported by The Guardian, inspired people to dress up as famous literary characters, including Gandalf, Pippi Longstocking, and Samwise Gamgee. As well, World Book Day’s date coincided with the third birthday of The Guardian’s children’s books section. This year seems to be good for reading, which is always an awesome thing.

World Book Day is designed to reinvigorate our passion for books, and although some of the readings and events have already passed (today being the 7th) there are still ways to celebrate. For instance, the World Book Day website has vouchers for one pound (like a dollar, but English and more valuable) books for children and young adults, which can be redeemed by educational institutions, hospitals, and other places with important didactic and moral missions. If you miss the cutoff for these vouchers as well (depending on where you live in the world), be sure to check out the website for more information about the festivities and what kind of advice they can offer about getting younger generations to read.

world book day

If you read this article and World Book Day has passed, there is no reason to fear. World Book Night, a more global celebration of books, is soon to follow. Every year on April 23rd publishers in different countries print special editions of books to sell at a better price for World Book Night. There are special programs in the English-speaking world, and folks everywhere sit somewhere quiet and read.

The book lists vary country by country, but after perusing the lists, I am quite sure no matter where you end up, the tomes available are pretty amazing. In the US, for instance, publishers are printing special editions of books like Joseph Heller´s Catch-22, The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, and the admittedly touching The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Also, Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential for some reason.

If you happen to be in Barcelona, too, April 23rd is Sant Jordi. Hundreds of book vendors line the streets, selling all manner of volumes to every passer by imaginable. As well, it’s like a Catalan Valentine’s Day, as all men receive books and all women receive roses (for every book stand there are two tables filled with decently priced roses of all colors). It’s a pretty rad day, and much more awesome than Valentine’s Day (it’s about reading and medieval romance, not poorly written Hallmark cards).

So, wherever you are in the world, try and dedicate some time to the celebration of World Book Day, World Book Night, or Sant Jordi in some way, shape, or form. If you go to the websites of any of said festivals, there are places to donate and sign up to volunteer (in the states, volunteers give away half a million books to all sorts, inspiring many to read for at least a day). It could be extremely valuable to be an active part of the event. Promoting reading is always good. Or, if you aren’t the volunteering type, at least celebrate on your own with a good book. It can’t hurt to sit down in silence and get engrossed in a novel or two.

For the technologically obsessed folks out there, too, books don’t have to be archaic. Spritz, an app developer from Boston, recently started marketing specialized reading software that enables the user to read much faster. Utilizing what they call the “Optimal Recognition Point” of the eyes, they speed up the words on an ereader but change the colors of focal letters in words so the eye catches everything correctly. Elite Daily reported that the software could enable you to read a novel in 90 minutes. Check this out, those who think reading takes too much time.

Reading has many allies, which is totally awesome. Software and global events all want to contribute to the initiative to read more, so now it’s up to individuals to pick up a book, Kindle, other ereader, or printed .pdf and enjoy supporting a universally important cause.

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