Happy World Book Day to everyone!
As a person who worked in the book business for 37 years, most of my working career, this is a day that is close to my heart. There are several things that make it especially dear to me this year.
The first is that the U.S. has adopted a great idea from the U.K. and created World Book Night, run by my old friend Carl Lennertz, one of the great enthusiasts for books in the U.S. On this day, 20,000 people in the U.S. will give away 1,000,000 books to whomever they choose. What a great way to share the love of reading and show how you value the worth of books. You can see the list of books being given away in the U.S. at the World Book Night site. And here’s a link to the U.K. site as well.
The second is that Ann Patchett, one of my favorite novelists – and also a bookseller – was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world for 2012. In an op ed piece in the NY Times recently, in which she lamented the Pulitzer Prize committee’s decision not to award a fiction prize this year, she wrote this:
Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps.
|Joe reading Neil Gaman's American Gods in my courtyard|
|Fatima "reading" Goodnight, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathman|
in Tamazight to a couple of local children
I guess the best way to close is to mention what I’m reading. I recently finished, Cry, the Beloved Country, and Things Fall Apart, two African classics which, aside from their intrinsic beauty and power, help me understand a little bit better what I’m experiencing here in Africa. I’m currently reading Arabian Nights and Days by the Egyptian Nobel laureate, Nagoub Mahfouz and a very funny unpublished novel, A Speckled Axe, by James Quackenbush, a friend of mine.
I didn't want to begin with an apology, but I know I'm waaaay behind in posting to this blog. I've been busy! And I have lots to tell! And I will soon...insha'allah.