Editorial: Societally-Proclaimed Book Days
So today is apparently World Book Day. I would have had no idea of this fact were it not for a helpful placard in the window of my local Waterstone’s. As someone who loves books (and celebrating them), I immediately thought that I should do something for the occasion: write a post definitely, perhaps make a book-shaped cake, and perhaps foist books on random passersby?
Thus excited, I hastened home to prepare for this bookish day and Googled “World Book Day.” It was at this point that wheels somewhat fell off the wagon for me. Why, you ask? Because a helpful search uncovered the truth of the matter: there are about a zillion holidays devoted to books. From tomorrow’s World Book Day (and associated World Book Night) to National Bookstart Day/Week to World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days, according to Wikipedia, and also connected to World Book Day) to the National Book Festival and “Reading is Fun Week” in the US, not to mention the book-related holidays for specific things like children’s books and comic books.
While I appreciate the apparent enthusiasm of those in public office or power to proclaim holidays in honor of the book, would it not be a far more effective way of celebrating books and reading to consolidate? There are so many of these holidays and honorary weeks or months and festivals that they’ve ceased to have any meaning. We’re reached the point where they are too many to make an impression on anyone let alone those they are presumably trying to convince to read. Until yesterday I was unaware of most of these holidays and I love books (obviously). Assuming a member of a lost base for these sort of holidays, what can be said for the effectiveness of them if even book-lovers aren’t on board with the celebrations?
So, message to those in charge: kudos to UNESCO for starting World Book Day, but let’s get our act together! Books, I think it can generally be agreed, are a vital and wonderful part of human culture. We should be doing everything in our power to celebrate them and advocate for them. No better way than an internationally recognized holiday that takes place on the same date across the globe and does not have to compete with hundreds of other holidays dedicated to the same thing. World Book Day is such a wonderful idea, so let’s try and let its reality live up to that seed.