There is a day coming up this Thursday 14 February that gives us the chance to show others how much we care. Yes, it’s International Book Giving Day. Set up with the worthy objectives to support children’s literacy, instil a lifelong love of reading, and to provide all children with access to books, there seems no reason not to extend the spirit to everyone, including adults. And perhaps including yourself.
This could also be a good antidote if you do not have a sweetheart this Valentine’s Day (nor me!), or if you find the whole business too mushy and / or commercial (and it’s a ‘no’ from me to Galentine’s Day, Pal-entine’s Day, and any other riffs on the theme, I am afraid). If you cannot curl up with a partner, then what else is better than with a book?
So in addition to participating in a local activity to raise awareness of the day, I’ll also be finding books to give to my children as well as freshening up my own reading list.
My daughter has been reading her way through Lauren Child’s Ruby Redfort series, while my son insists he wants to collect everything by George Orwell.
For myself, I love autobiography and biography, particularly of women writers, and have had Margaret Forster’s biography of Daphne Du Maurier (1993) on my list to-read for ages. Whilst obviously far from a new release, I’ll be interested in what one much-admired female writer has to say about another.
I had our small raised vegetable patch taken out (from our tiny garden) last summer, but think I’ll have a go at growing veggies in pots instead this year (maybe it’s the new craze for stockpiling and growing food that looming Brexit has brought on). So I am also ordering a book to help with that. A bit like cookbooks, I drool over the pictures in gardening books as much as anything else, so that has to be a ‘real’ paper one with the glossy, aspirational images.
Along the lines of memoir, at one time I read a lot by Paul Auster. It’s been a while. I am not sure why – simply a case of so many books but so little time, I guess. Anyway, his book A Life in Words (2017), from conversations with Linguistics Professor Inge Birgitte Siegumfeldt, looks to be an intriguing insight.
And because, in common with Dorothy Parker, “I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me…”, more is required. In terms of fiction, I have not read enough by novelist Tessa Hadley (meaning the couple I have read I very much enjoyed), so I am adding her well-reviewed and recently published Late in the Day (2018) to my list.
Finally, I have found a couple of Elizabeth Day’s novels to be good reads in the past year, and am attracted by its title to her (non-fiction) book How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong (2019, to pre-order), which is described as “part memoir, part manifesto, and including chapters on dating, work, sport, babies, families, anger and
friendship…” – which about covers it. And it seems an apt read for what’s been an especially challenging time this past six months.
To end this post, a quote that seems to encapsulate the spirit of International Book Giving Day:
“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
What’s on your next reading wish list?