Tomorrow is World Book and Copyright Day, a day I enjoy and celebrate because well, books!
Celebrated on 23 April each year, the day is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. The idea for celebrating this day originated in Catalonia where on 23 April, St George’s Day, a rose is traditionally given as a gift for each book sold. The date of 23 April is also symbolic for world literature, for on this date and in the same year, 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. In the UK and Ireland, World Book Day is celebrated earlier in the year, usually on the first Thursday in March, to ensure it falls outside of school holidays.
The pandemic and isolation we faced showed us how important books are to maintain mental balance. Books are an individual’s best friend and to those who do not like reading, I always say they haven’t found a book or genre they love yet. Books are amazingly powerful tools to combat isolation, reinforce ties between people, expand horizons and all this while stimulating our minds and creativity.
When one reads, they exercise their comprehension abilities and analytical abilities. Reading fires up the imagination and stimulates the memory centres of the mind, helps recall information as well as stabilise emotions. The importance of a reading habit is that it strengthens mental muscles. Reading is one of the best mental workouts there is and it has been found that regular mental stimulation can slow down and possibly even prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia because reading keeps the mind agile and young.
Each year a city is designated as the World Book Capital that undertakes activities to encourage a culture of reading and diffusing its values in all ages and population groups in and out of their country’s borders and spend the year between one World Book and Copyright Day and the next to promote books and fostering a reading culture. The World Book Capital for 2022 is Guadalajara in Mexico. The city, already a UNESCO Creative City since 2017, was selected for its comprehensive plan for policies around the book to trigger social change, combat violence and build a culture of peace. Guadalajara’s proposed programme focuses on three strategic axes: regaining public spaces through reading activities in parks and other accessible places; social bonding and cohesion especially through reading and writing workshops for children; and strengthening of neighbourhood identity using intergenerational connections, story-telling and street poetry.
Tomorrow, make sure you take some time to do some reading, be it a physical book or an e-book. Reading fiction can help one be more open-minded and creative, live longer and be successful in life. So grab a book, make time for yourself and discover new worlds.