16th May 2022
It’s World Book Day! I think we all remember it from school, the one day a year where our teachers joined with us in fancy dress. Over the years, it has grown to be a form of competition amongst teachers. My aunt has dressed as everything from Gangsta Granny to an alien to appease the children in her Reception and Year 1 class!
While World Book Day is associated with our childhoods, books haven’t lost their grip on most of us. I’m the Secretary of the Book Society, so I asked the President, Llinos, and fellow member Robyn, about why books are so important to them.
Haven’t heard of World Book Day? 2022 is the 25th anniversary of the event and this year the message is, ‘you are a reader‘. Encouraging children of all abilities to pursue reading as a hobby. The day was designated as a UNESCO worldwide celebration of books and reading in 1995. In 1997, the UK and Ireland held their first World Book Day celebration and have done so ever since!
We wanted to do something to reposition reading and our message is the same today as it was then – that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives.Baroness Gail Rebuck (World Book Day Founder)
The aim is to change the lives of the future generation through a love of reading. Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income.
So, the day offers the chance for more children (particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds) to own their own book. Something they picked out themselves and can be proud of. The event is run in partnership with many retailers and book tokens are given to children to allow them money off books or to select one of the chosen £1 books which celebrate the day.
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to make the time for yourself at all at uni. Maybe after reading a big, bulky textbook, reading for pleasure is the last thing on your mind. It could be the best thing you can do when you can eek the time out though!
Reading is a great way to improve your mental health and gives you a moment of escapism. If you dive into a fantasy novel, you can be transported anywhere. Maybe a romance novel can provide some lighthearted entertainment? It’s important to take some me time to reduce stress, relax and have a break.
Not only that but you can learn so much too! Yes, you can directly learn facts, sure. You might not consider that you are also improving your focus and memory capabilities. Reading about characters and understanding different backgrounds to your own can improve your empathy skills, as well as your ability to communicate on more levels, with a wider variety of people.
I’ve loved reading and the fantasy world since I was very young. To this day, my friends associate me with fairies, unicorns and magic! My first memories of being extremely excited about books were Christmas and birthday gifts.
I love fantasy in all its forms, anything with magic, myths or magical creatures! Some of my favourites are Fallen by Lauren Kate, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. Okay, fine, they are all the first in a series! Everything those authors touch is golden. I’m also a fan of dystopian novels (you got me, they are series too!) like, The Host by Stephanie Meyer, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Divergent by Veronica Roth.
I grew up in the height of the Harry Potter phenomenon and it shaped the way I interacted with people around me. At the start of this year, my lecturer asked us in our first seminar. I told him mine was still Harry Potter because it sets out clearly that there is always a right and a wrong but that people often get wrapped up in the wrong thing for reasons beyond their control.
As I grew up, I came to understand that the dastardly Death Eaters and their ultra-right wing leader Tom Riddle, mirror the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. For me, I found the push for equality, for muggle born students, house elves and those with “red hair and a hand me down robe”, to be something I valued highly and have always pushed for. Despite the controversy around J.K. Rowling and my disappointment at her comments, it hasn’t dampened my love for the world she created and the characters I grew up with.
Here are some quotes to live by, that influenced me:
– Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.
– It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.
– Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.
– When in doubt, go to the library.
– Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realise that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!
– Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.J. K. Rowling
You might know our External News and Politics Editor, Robyn. I met her on my course and we were quickly besties, through shared views and shared loves. We both adore fantasy, in the form of books, games and films.
I have been in love with reading for a long time. So long, I actually don’t even remember what my first book was! To me, reading is relaxing, even when you find yourself screaming into the pages at something the characters have just done to really frustrate you.
My favourite genre is fantasy because I love how much imagination goes into the creation of novels and how much effort authors put into their writing. Sarah J Maas is my favourite writer and all of her series are amazing. It’s hard to choose one but I think the Crescent City series is my favourite. Not just because of the otters – the fantastical postal service creatures – but because I think Maas’ world building is phenomenal. Being transported to another world in my spare time is something I will never stop enjoying. Eventually, I want to dive into other genres. I have an incredible edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, that I’m dying to crack into!Robyn Sayle
Another lover of fantasy and a twist of the obscure, Llinos found her love of reading later on. Her suggestions are Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, Vicious by V. E. Schwab and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett.
Why do I read? For a long time I didn’t. As a child I had enough going on in my head that I could imagine enough to keep me occupied. Then I branched out, finding all new things weird and interesting; places I’d never visit and creatures or people I’d never meet. My head suddenly didn’t have enough space to contain these and books opened the door I didn’t know I needed.
It was all for the escapism, experiencing phenomenal things all from the comfort of home without the danger. It brought me emotional education and I loved being enveloped in the mischief, madness and moving moments.
So this is why I read. I want to be swept up and disappear, something with complex world-building and magical elements are my ideal go-to. It gives me so much joy and gives me an outlet to fully relax and recharge after a mad day in the real world.Llinos Price