World book night

Column- Piyush Jha talks about a new way to celebrate reading and books
(PHOTO: REUTERS)
(PHOTO: REUTERS)
Updated on Jan 09, 2020 12:39 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByPiyush Jha

While surfing the net on the first days of the new year, I stumbled upon something that I had never heard of before - World Book Night! It turns out that intrepid bibliophiles have been at work expanding the scope for books and reading. Apparently, the event is celebrated for almost 10 years now on the same date as the UNESCO International Day of the Book- 23rd April. Since World Book Day is a well-established reading celebration for children during the day, World Book Night is for grown-ups to celebrate books in different ways at night.

April is still some time away, but I’m just putting the idea out there for people to use and get inspired. For those that need some help in the planning, World Book Night also has a website that you can connect with to figure out ideas that you can use to have your own little celebration. They also have helpful categories and appropriate activities. For instance, as an individual, you could simply hold book swaps with friends and colleagues or if you’re adventurous and outgoing, you could even have a full-fledged book-themed party. Writers and readers could have a small reading with at their favourite cafe or go live on social media using #worldbooknight. Bookstores are encouraged to have Author visits and special offers and discounts on the said night. Waterstones bookstore in Doncaster in the UK quite successfully motivated their regular patrons to buy a book and share it with someone who would not have discovered it otherwise. Libraries could create a special World Book Night list which they can share with their members for their night-time read. Organisational workplaces are urged to present books to employees who otherwise might not be reading or are lapsed readers. There are even suggestions to celebrate World Book Night with care homes, old age homes, orphanages and other NGOs.

It’s commendable, the lengths to which The Reading Agency, the organisation behind World Book Night has gone to make the event a meaningful activity. Currently, the event is celebrated in the UK and the US, but I’m pretty sure that we in India can make a bid to participate, in at least our major cities.

Since, 23rd April also happens to be the probable birth and death date of William Shakespeare, I’m sure he’d approve saying, “A beggars book, outworths a noble’s blood.”

(Piyush Jha is a contemporary storyteller who practises his craft by directing films and writing books.)

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Thursday, December 02, 2021