Why do we celebrate books? Well, the simple answer to that is because they’re important.
But that just creates more questions: why are they important? What do they do? How should we celebrate them? Does the way we celebrate them affect their importance? What about the kinds of books that we celebrate? Does that have any significance? Should we be celebrating new books? Old books? Critically acclaimed books? Or something else entirely?
But you know what? I don’t like those questions. They presume so much about what is important to different people and the values that we place on different things that I just can’t participate in a conversation like that. Books are important and celebrating them is important. Yes, realistically, reading is necessary and engaging in it is a great way to exercise your brain and work your imagination. But outside of that, books give us so much. They give us a way to communicate, to show off ways of life that you otherwise couldn’t dream of. They’re useful and diverse and exciting. There are self-help books and cookery books and history books and funny books and fantastical books. There are books with lots of words and books with lots of pictures and books with bits of both.
Reading is important because it matters to people. In a world of deadlines and computer screens and internet streaming, reading a book is dedication. It is time and attention consuming, and it is rarely undertaken lightly. When was the last time that you read just because you could, and didn’t feel guilty about the other things you were supposed to do? I can’t remember the last time.
But I can remember the feeling of getting so ingrained in a book that I forget that there are words on the page. I can remember the sense of belonging I feel while in the head of another person in another time. I remember the pure magic of storytelling.
So, whatever it is that makes books and reading important to you, make sure you celebrate and appreciate it however makes you happy. Because being happy is important, after all.