by Tammy Surline
This Tuesday, April 23rd, marks an event entitled World Book Night. This event is designed to give specially printed paperback books to individuals who normally don’t engage in reading.
Reading is more important than ever today. In a world of texts and tweets and abbreviations that boggle even the most clever of minds, to sit down with a collection of well-written, thoughtful prose is a treat that cannot be denied. Kindles and Nooks are a nice way to provide this experience, especially in our gadget-oriented society. But at the risk of sounding as corny as Kansas in August, there is no other substitute for picking up that first book, holding it in your hands, smelling it and opening up a world of possibilities.
My mom took me to the public library when I was quite small and got me my first library card. I remember it to this day. She was friends with the children’s librarian so we had connections (wink, wink). It was always a treat when my aunt came to visit in the summer because I knew we would walk together to the downtown library. Then when I started kindergarten, the teacher took us to the school library. I remember thinking, “wow, they have one of these at school, too?” I couldn’t believe my good fortune.
Despite my auspicious introduction to books, I almost fell off reading for a time. My English teachers had a nasty habit of assigning classic works that slowly eroded my enthusiasm. Though Dickens never failed to entertain, the lofty, high-brow language of Shakespeare at first left me cold. The Grapes of Wrath seemed dry as dust (wink, again) and Of Mice and Men almost put me in therapy. I admit, I’ve blocked out most Of Mice and Men, but I do remember some ugliness concerning dead mice and the killing of puppies. (Fade to black…) Beowulf was the final straw. To me, the prose did not even resemble English and couldn’t have been worth much since the author didn’t even have the guts to reveal himself.
Alas, a persistent English teacher handed me a copy of The Great Gatsby and told me I would love it. Had it not been for that insightful educator, I would never have turned that corner and gotten back into reading and exploring books, even Shakespeare. After all, he is the Beatles of literature.
My husband’s mother spent many years trying to turn her son into a reader. Finally, when he drove his parents to Salt Lake for his dad’s eye surgery and had to spend many hours in waiting rooms and motels, his mom handed him a detective novel. The heavens opened up right along with the cover of that book and voila! Her long awaited dream was finally realized. She even took a picture of him reading in the motel to show me as proof of her accomplishment.
Thus, World Book Night is an opportunity to provide that same turning point to others who are turned off of reading. All it takes is the right book given to the right person and another bibliophile is born.
In fact, Rock Springs Library will be hosting this event from 6-8 pm this Tuesday evening, April 23rd. We will be giving away books to folks who may have never thought of reading for pleasure, and even maybe a few who do. Come join us for books, cake, punch, and fun!
A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read. –Mark Twain
“An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.” –Act IV, Scene IV, King Richard III, Shakespeare
“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” — Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid
You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” –Ray Bradbury
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” –To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee