Tag Archives: Reading Agency

Reading is good for you

There is a simple and inexpensive treatment that reduces symptoms of depression and the risk of dementia, improves wellbeing throughout life increases empathy, improves relationships with others and makes you happy. It’s freely available to everyone, at least while public libraries still exist. To make the treatment effective the only necessary pre-condition is enjoyment:

With reading so good for you this statement, from the Reading Agency is a little shocking:

In the UK, reading levels are low among people of all ages: most children do not read on a daily basis and almost a third of adults don’t read for pleasure. (August 2015)

I think again of the young woman in the bookshop I reported on in a recent post: ‘I’ve never bought a book in my life’.

Old Woman Reading by Sandor Galimberti 1907 via WikiCommons.

Old Woman Reading by Sandor Galimberti 1907 via WikiCommons.

Reading is good for you

In the summer the Reading Agency published the report The Impact of Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment. It brought together findings from 51 research papers to conclude that reading does us good.

Reading helps you understand the world

Barack Obama was talking to novelist Marilyn Robinson when he described how reading made him a better citizen, which was about

being comfortable with the notion that the world is complex and full of greys, but there is still truth to be found …And the notion that its positive to connect with someone else though they be very different to you. (From The Guardian 30.10.15)

The President is a best selling writer himself. The importance of fiction for politicians was wittily demonstrated by Yann Martel in his book What are you Reading Mr Harper? and explored in a recent blogpost here.

The Reading Agency report indicates that reading is helpful to all readers in developing and understanding of other people and cultures and thereby helps develop empathy.

Reading helps you understand yourself better

If reading develops empathy, we should not be surprised that reading helps us understand ourselves as well, helps with developing out identities. Fiction, in particular, helps you see the world and yourself in it, in new ways, opens up possibilities.

Reading helps your cognitive functions

This is just another way of saying that reading keeps you mentally active, increases your knowledge, provokes you with conundrums and mysteries, expands your vocabulary, encourages your creativity, helps you become a better writer.

Reading helps you feel better: bibliotherapy

The New Yorker published an article called Can Reading Make you Happy? by Ceridwen Dovey in January 2015. The answer is yes, and you can read the piece here. She had experienced bibliotherapy suggested by one of the authors of The Reading Cure.

223 novel cure coverThe Reading Cure: and A-Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin is a handbook to keep with your other home cures, according to the writers. This book has a book for every condition, every ailment. Of course I checked up on one or two and selected one or two of their suggestions.

Noisy neighbours – well their dogs? Try some audio books, read by top class readers: Middlemarch by George Eliot read by Juliet Stevenson; The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, read by Alan Rickman.

Being Seventy-Something? (I’m not, but it’s not far off). Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym; Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Procrastinating? The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Partner snoring? They recommended some soothing books but I’d recommend any book, the edge brought sharply into contact with the shoulder, enough to get them to change their position.

And let’s not forget that books help us relax, calm us, take us far away from our own struggles.

Libraries

223 Peanuts librarySo if reading is such a good thing, why, oh why, are so many councils closing libraries? (Yes, yes, I know that so-called austerity means difficult choices for councils, pitting beds for old people and holes in the roads against free and available books). We really need to keep on at the people who suggest library cuts. One way is to support National Library Day on Saturday 6th February 2016. Details on the Reading Agency’s website.

Sources for this post

The Impact of Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment, a literature review for The Reading Agency, June 2015. Conducted by BOP Consulting funded by the Peter Sowerby Foundation. Also available from the Reading Agency’s website.

Reading for pleasure builds empathy and improves wellbeing from The Reading Agency (August 2015)

5 Ways Reading Can Improve Your Life by Leila Cruickshank, on Scottish Book Trust website (November 2015)

The Power of Reading from Norah Colvin’s blog in August 2015.

The Reading Cure: and A-Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin. Published in 2015 by Canongate. 460pp

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World Book Night 2015

It’s nearly here. Thursday 23rd April is World Book Night 2015. It’s the time to celebrate and promote books and reading.

169 World Book Night logoThousands of books from the list (see below) are given away on the night to encourage the 35% of people who do not read regularly. The list therefore includes lots of different kinds of books, so there is something that will appeal everyone. World Book Night seems to be fading in other countries, but in the UK we have the Reading Agency to keep it strong.

Members and staff of the Society of Authors is taking part in an event at Shelter from the Storm, a free London homeless shelter.

Here is the list of books for World Book Night 2015:

  1. After the Fall by Charity Norman (Allen and Unwin)
  2. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton (Constable, Little, Brown)
  3. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb (HarperCollins)
  4. Chickenfeed by Minette Walters (Pan Macmillan)
  5. Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts by Mary Gibson (Head of Zeus)
  6. Dead Man Talking by Roddy Doyle (Quick Read) (Vintage)
  7. Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden (Pan Macmillan)
  8. Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Trilogy, ed Neil Astley (Bloodaxe)
  9. Honour by Elif Shafak (Penguin)
  10. My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher (Orion / Hachette Children’s)
  11. Prime Suspect by Lynda La Plante (Simon & Schuster)
  12. Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle (Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House)
  13. Skellig by David Almond (Hachette Children’s)
  14. Spring Tide by Cilla and Rolf Börjlind (Hesperus)
  15. Street Cat Bob by James Bowen(Quick Read) (Hodder)
  16. The Martian by Andy Weir (Penguin)
  17. The Moaning of Life by Karl Pilkington (Canongate)
  18. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Penguin)
  19. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (John Murray)
  20. When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman (Headline)
Three children reading a book together in a village in Nepal, April 2011. Photo by Nirmal Dulal via wikicommons

Three children reading a book together in a village in Nepal, April 2011. Photo by Nirmal Dulal via wikicommons

What can you do for World Book Night?

Visit the World Book Night 2015 web page.

Read a book from the list.

Aim to read the whole list before World Book Night 2016.

Give a friend a book from the list.

Give two friends two books from the list.

Buy all the listed books that you don’t already own.

Girl Reading by Homer Winslow

Girl Reading by Homer Winslow

Suggest reading a book from the list in your reading group.

Make a donation to support World Book Night.

Leave a book from the list on a train, in a café or in some other public place to be found by a stranger.

Read a book from the list that you wouldn’t have read if it wasn’t included.

Send the link to this post by Twitter to all your followers.

Read all the books on the list by women (the proportion has increased from previous years, according to #readwomen2014).

La Lecon by Renoir

La Lecon by Renoir

I first blogged about World Book Night 2015 last December. You can read that blogpost here.

Tell us what you will do for World Book Night. Tell what you have done for WBN.

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Prepare for World Book Night 2015!

140 WBN 2015World Book Night 2015 is on Thursday 23rd April. There are too many lists in the world of book blogs, but I don’t hesitate to add the World Book Night list for 2015. World Book Night seems to be fading in other countries, but in the UK we have the Reading Agency to keep it strong.

140 Reading AThe purpose of World Book Night is to celebrate and promote books and reading. Apparently about 35% people do not read regularly. To reduce this proportion thousands of books from the list are given away on the night. The list is therefore intended to include lots of different kinds of books so there is something that will appeal everyone.

Here are the books for World Book Night 2015:

  1. After the Fall by Charity Norman (Allen and Unwin)
  2. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton (Constable, Little, Brown)
  3. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb (HarperCollins)
  4. Chickenfeed by Minette Walters (Quick Read) (Pan Macmillan)
  5. Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts by Mary Gibson (Head of Zeus)
  6. Dead Man Talking by Roddy Doyle (Quick Read) (Vintage, Penguin Random House)
  7. Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden (Pan Macmillan)
  8. Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Trilogy, Neil Astley (ed.) (Bloodaxe)
  9. Honour by Elif Shafak (Penguin General, Penguin Random House)
  10. My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher (Orion / Hachette Children’s)
  11. Prime Suspect by Lynda La Plante (Simon & Schuster)
  12. Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle (Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House)
  13. Skellig by David Almond (Hachette Children’s)
  14. Spring Tide by Cilla and Rolf Börjlind (Hesperus)
  15. Street Cat Bob by James Bowen(Quick Read) (Hodder)
  16. The Martian by Andy Weir (Ebury, Penguin Random House)
  17. The Moaning of Life by Karl Pilkington (Canongate)
  18. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Transworld, Penguin Random House)
  19. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Two Roads, John Murray)
  20. When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman (Headline)

140 WBN_CoverGrid-thumb-300x360-12979And here’s another list.

What to do for World Book Night?

  • Visit the World Book Night 2015 web page.
  • Read a book from the list.
  • Give a friend a book from the list.
  • Give two friends two books from the list.
  • Become a volunteer for World Book Night and help give away the books.
  • Join one of the listed community activities from the web page to celebrate and promote books and reading.
  • Buy all the listed books that you don’t already own.
  • Plan to read a book from the list in your reading group around that date.
  • Make a donation to support World Book Night.
  • Leave a book from the list on a train, in a café or in some other public place to be found by a stranger.
  • Read a book from the list that you wouldn’t have read if it wasn’t included.
  • Send the link to this post by Twitter to all your followers.
  • Read all the books on the list by women (the proportion has increased from previous years, according to #readwomen2014).
  • Make/ask for a special display in your local independent bookshop.
  • Make/ask for a special display in your local library.
  • Aim to read the whole list before World Book Night 2016.

You have until 23rd April 2015 to do something! Can you add suggestions of activities to support World Book Day?

 

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A new book group

Have you ever started a new reading or book group? What was your experience? We have found it challenging, so I give you our story and ask for your comments and advice.

120 C18 groupEstablished readers of this blog will know I moved to Devon just over a year ago. I had got the number of unpacked boxes down to 100, so I met with my daughter to discuss establishing a reading group in the area. I missed talking about books with friends and wanted to meet bookish people and to read books recommended by others.

Planning

  • We faced a number of questions:
  • How to get people to join us?
  • Where to meet?
  • How frequently?
  • At what time of day?
  • What books should we read?
  • How would we choose the books?

Initial practical arrangements

My daughter knows more people in the area than me because she has lived here for several years. And she was now engaging with other mothers at the school and pre-school gates. She approached various people and suggested meeting once a month, in each other’s homes, at 7.30. The host would provide refreshments but not a meal. We decided on the dates of the first two meetings.

From the start all members were busy women, and it has proved difficult to establish the right practical arrangements. After a few sessions of changing the date and time and meeting place Anna suggested we set the dates and books ahead and keep to it even if people’s commitments changed. By that time we had enough members to see us through times when readers were busy elsewhere.

Choice of books

120 GrassWe wanted our first books to signal the seriousness of our reading. Doris Lessing had recently died and she won the Nobel prize for Literature. We began with The Grass is Singing. For me it was a re-read and my goodness I had forgotten but was soon reminded the searing sterility of the marriage at the heart of the novel, and the connections Doris Lessing made between the oppression of women and of the Rhodesian native black population.

The second book was meant to be a contrast: The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier. Our discussion about it showed that the group enjoyed up-to-date writing and could be critical. Our third book was Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Having read our three nominated books, the choice became dependant upon all members. We were, in the words of one member, ‘very polite’ about making suggestions for future reads. It quickly emerged that the group wanted variation: modern and older classics, lighter (but not too light) fiction, including translated fiction, as well as non-fiction and poetry. But nothing very long. When I asked group members last month about their observations for this blog most of their comments referred to the choice of books.

New members

Another decision we reflected on was whether to have a closed group or not. We know of groups that have fixed membership, new members only being inducted when people leave. One reason for this is that the group’s books are supplied by the library in fixed numbers. We decided to remain open, and so far haven’t used the library to supply our books.

Benefits of the group

120 Reading-GroupWhy would busy people join a reading group, especially when they are frequently unable to finish the book before the meeting? One reason is that having the book group allows them to prioritise reading, gives them a little more incentive to find time and space for the reading.

Here’s a list of books we have read so far:

  • The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
  • The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
  • A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
  • Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
  • If only it were true by Marc Levy

And here are our plans for reading in the next few months:

  • Staying Alive edited by Neil Astley (a collection of poems, from which we will choose and say something about our choices).
  • The Bear by Claire Cameron
  • A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

And in December we will have a Christmas feast and plan for next year.

It is very hard to establish a reading group. We keep going even if only two of us turn up, and so far that has worked. We have to recognise the busy-ness of our members. We have had a good discussions even with only two people.

Please Comment

What books would you recommend for a reading group such as ours as it approaches its second year? How do you choose?

What difficulties have you experienced with a book or reading group?

 

Some on-line resources for reading groups

The Reading Agency supports Reading Groups for Everyone.

A site that offers lots of resources for organising a reading group is The Reading Club

A Book Club Blog: Book Club Girl

120 R Group fo logo 

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Books change lives.

Want a good idea to solve your Christmas present problems? Reverse Book Tokens may be the answer. What are they? Read on.

Reading and books connect people in important ways. Reading and writing are two important activities that enable underprivileged people to counter the odds stacked against them: refugees, prisoners, the oppressed, children … A recent blog on reading with children referred to Neil Gaiman’s October 2013 lecture in which he outlined our collective responsibility to help young people read. Here is the link again to the full text of his lecture on the Reading Agency site. In a spirited defence of all reading and of libraries he argued that individuals need literacy, but so does society.

The bigger picture of the importance of books and reading came vividly to me when I worked briefly in Africa, with teachers in Maputo, Mozambique. I have also visited schools in Zimbabwe and in Ethiopia. One thing I know is that resources we take for granted in our schools are in very short supply in some schools, especially in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa. In particular – books. Not all schools can afford to provide books, and yet …

66 Bookaid logoMy mother put me in touch with Book Aid International and I have supported them ever since. Last year they provided more than half a million books to 3,300 libraries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Their work is so important. It changes lives.

Rahmatu is a 13-year-old-girl from Cameroon who is at secondary school , a country where only one in 5 girls achieve this. Her family cannot afford to buy books. But thanks to Book Aid International her school library is full of books and she takes a book home every day, and reads to her siblings. Her favourite book is Gulliver’s Travels. You can see her speaking on the website.

Before I started going to school and reading books I never had any plans for my future because in my tribe, young girls of my age grow up and just get married. But now that I’m in school I plan to become a lawyer.

Book are changing the aspirations of this young girl, at the same time as allowing her siblings access to books as well. The video shows Rahmatu reading aloud to children in her village. The essence of this story is repeated in Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania, DRC, for libraries in prison, in hospital, and in primary and secondary schools. The strap line for Book Aid International is BOOKS CHANGE LIVES.

66 Bookaid classroom

Book Tokens are a great idea; you pay the money and someone else gets the books. Reverse Book Tokens are a great idea to support Book Aid International: you pay the money and someone else gets the books. For only £6 Book Aid International can send out three books. Money for this charity is also raised through donations, festive cards and World Book Day events. The next one will be on Thursday 6th March 2014. The charity is hoping to raise money through celebrating its 60th birthday in 2014.

66 bookaid lorry

Thinking of presents for readers this year? Give a Reverse Book Token and support Book Aid International. A reader will thank you.

If I were to meet the person who helped send books to our school, first of all I would say a big thank you! And plead with them to send many books to our school because children are in need of them, says Rahmatu.

 

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Are you sitting comfortably?

Reading with young children, pre-readers, is both necessary and a delight. Fiction for children is necessary because it is an early gateway to independent reading and because it builds empathy. There is an obligation to the individual and to our society to develop literacy in young people. This is the argument of Neil Gaiman in his lecture Reading and Obligation for the Reading Agency in October 2013. You can read his lecture in full on the Reading Agency website, here.

64 multitasking

‘The simplest way to raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity.’  Gaiman argues in favour of all reading, including comics, Enid Blyton and so-called ‘escapist’ fiction. ‘Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing.’ Anything they want to read will help them onto ‘the reading ladder’ and up, rung by rung into literacy. He makes a strong case for protecting libraries as well.

His argument about building empathy is also strong. Reading is different from action on screens, which happens to other people, in this respect, because it depends on the reader’s imagination. Further:

Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you have never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

Extending Gaiman’s points, I argue that reading with pre-readers is a powerful way to build social bonds. It is necessarily a social activity, full of emotional and physical closeness. A few days ago, at their request I read some classic stories to my two grandsons. The older one is five years old and on the edge of reading, and at the end of each story he took pleasure and pride in matching pictures to words: bear, porridge, chair, Goldilocks… The younger one, who is two, fell asleep with his head on my arm. His brother and I shared conspiratorial smiles at this. They have both been enjoying books since they were just weeks old.

It is one of the chief pleasures of reading to share it with someone else, through a blog, in conversation with friends, in book groups and – in my case – with my grandsons. There was a time when they preferred different books. The picture above makes me smile as I attempted to appease the tastes of both boys. No wonder I look so awfully tired.

64 Char & Oli IMGP1812Reading to the very young crosses generations, and I have a much-loved sequence of photographs of my mother reading to her great-grandson. The book is The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch by Ronda Armitage. The photograph was taken a couple of years ago, but we still love reading it. We love Hamish the cat’s resistance to entering the basket, which will mean an aerial flight over the sea to the lighthouse. Hamish’s job is to keep the seagulls off the wonderful lunch prepared by Mrs Grindling. We love listing the contents of Mr Grindling’s lunchbasket and shouting CLEAR OFF, YOU VARMINTS! with Mr Grindling as the seagulls steal every bit.

The older one has begun enjoying longer stories with chapters, like the BFG, or Paddington Bear. The younger one loves being read to, and is not that bothered what it is. Here he is with Mog by Judith Kerr, which appeals to his love of books and cats. I used to read Mog to his mother. Mog is another delightful (but dim) cat.

64 Josh & Mog DSC00053

I can see ahead years and years of reading aloud, of giving books, of sitting with books, and of hearing each of them discovering that they can do it on their own. For me, part of the pleasure is discovering that even over two or three generations we can share our tastes: for favourites such as the Three Bears, Mog, The BFG, and for new favourites such as It’s a Book! By Lane Smith or 365 penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental. (Thank you Anne P for suggesting this big book, which delights us with numbers as the collection of penguins grows by one more penguin every day for a whole year.)

64 365 penguins

Here is a brief list of some of my current favourites from among the books I like reading with them.

Anything by Anthony Browne because his images allow you to enter strange but familiar worlds. My Dad was a favourite until it fell apart.

Where the wild things are. Maurice Sendak

Roald Dahl’s The BFG, which was one of my daughter’s favourite reads.

Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and pictures by Axel Scheffler. Be careful what you invent because it might just turn out to be true!

You can see that we share a taste for humour, cats, anthropomorphic animals and good illustrations.

Here’s a link to the Booktrust’s list of Our 100 best children’s books. Lots of people pointed out omissions and some will have voted for their favourites. Have you any suggestions for me to read with the boys? After all Christmas is coming and although it is true that a book’s not just for Christmas, it’s for life, the gift of a book is always a good one.

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Four reasons to save our libraries

Our public libraries are under threat, easy targets for council cuts. The main reason to save our libraries is of course their contents: the books. ‘Because everything changes when we read’ is the strap line of The Reading Agency. Look at the sterling work they are doing to support our libraries, including publish The Library Book, edited by Rebecca Grey.

The-Library-Book-154x250_medium

Here are four more specific reasons to save our public libraries.

ONE: because they are much more than sources of books and information services.

A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold, rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead. (Caitlin Moran, The Library Book p92)

The books and the buildings, the services and resources offer all this and more to everyone, whatever age, erudition, wealth, class, colour, status, no matter what. Come in.

Library shelvesDSC00248

TWO: libraries nourished authors and readers. They are ‘places of incredible glamour, possibility, power, excitement and pleasure,’ according to Stephen Fry. Annie Dillard, writing in An American Childhood, describes her experience in Pittsburgh.

The Homewood Library had graven across its enormous stone façade: FREE TO THE PEOPLE. In the evenings, neighbourhood people – the men and women of Homewood – browsed in the library, and brought their children. (p81)

Here she found The Field Book of Ponds and Streams, and learned that other people in the city, despite the lack of ponds and streams, also borrowed this book. This is part of the mystery and wonder of libraries, the anonymous intimacy with other people who read the same books.

This was the most private and obscure part of life, this Homewood Library: a vaulted marble edifice in a mostly decent Negro neighbourhood, the silent stacks of which I plundered in deep concentration for many years. … I would never meet those Homewood people who were borrowing The Field Book of Ponds and Streams; the people who read my favourite books were invisible, or in hiding, underground. (p83)

Annie Dillard went on to write magical, close observations of life in ponds and streams, retelling the details of cycles and creatures around her home so that I felt I was peering over her shoulder at lacewings, muskrat, goldfinch and water currents when I read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

Val McDermid had a similar experience of devouring a library when she was growing up right across the road from Kirkcaldy Central Library. ’I would not be a writer,’ she claims in The Library Book, ‘if it were not for the public library system.’ See the comments on the popular Dovegrey Reader Scribbles blog from readers who would say, ‘if it were not for the public library system I would not be a reader.’

So save our libraries for the future authors now hunkering down among the shelves, and for the ones who will come after them and for the readers.

THREE: Libraries connect people. Here are two examples from fiction. The new British Library is the location for a short story by Toby Litt, and concerns a love affair conducted through the titles on the request slips for books. It’s called Rare Books and Manuscripts and can be found in an anthology of London writing: Diaspora City.

A librarian’s monologue in The Library of Unrequited Love, by the French novelist Sophie Divry, also concerns love among the stacks, but exploring in its rambling course the visitors, the purposes of a library, hierarchies among the staff, her work in charge of the geography section and so on. It’s charming, quirky and sad, and a very enjoyable gift from my kind sister.

Libraries provide connections with people who might be different in ways we recognise in ourselves, as Stephen Fry discovered growing up gay in Norfolk. And libraries provide connections to our past through memorials. My previous post was about an inaccessible library as memorial (Judenplatz in Vienna). This photo is of the war memorial in my local library in Stoke Newington, North London. It is a very long list of names.

Memorial in lib

FOUR: They embody communitarian and democratic values. Libraries affirm something important about relationships in the community without reference to economics. You want to read this book? Take it and bring it back in a few weeks. No charge. No deposit. And in that money-free transaction social value is affirmed not just between the library and the borrower, but between the library and its community.

And after the libraries are gone they’ll come for the other books, and then for the people who write them. Julian Barnes in The Library Book has a sobering story about a great event, the eponymous Defence of the Book, set in the future but echoing Niemoller’s famous lines First they came for

Who doesn’t love a library? People who cut council budgets, people who see libraries as ‘valuable retail outlets’, and people who abhor imagination, discovery and wonder. They don’t love a library. There are 4,200 public libraries in the UK. We must not lose them. Do you have another reason why?

 

And a couple of blog notes:

  1. The next post on this blog will be a review of Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor, first choice for the blog reading group. Any recommendations for the next choice?
  2. My novel is out of its drawer and my short story sobered up. More on these soon, perhaps.

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