Why was I not surprised when someone posted on FB earlier this week that it was “Book lover’s day” (9th August)? ‘Where did this come from?’ I thought. And googling it led me to the ‘Days of the year’ website from where I learn that today is “Play in the sand day”, yesterday was “Garage sale day” and tomorrow will be “Vinyl record day” – and so it goes on…. Who made these days and what purpose does it serve?
Well some of these have been around for some time – like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. This is a list to which new days are being constantly added, probably born in the marketing department of Hallmark! Some like “Doctor’s day” fall on different dates in different countries. However, there is a more staid and less commercial list which I found – an official United Nations list of ‘days’!! Many of these are meant to commemorate events, which should not fall out of our collective memory, such as the day to remember victims of the holocaust that falls on January 27th. Many others are meant to generate wider awareness on issues such as gender equality (International Women’s day on 8th March) or the harm done by tobacco (World No-tobacco day on 31st May).
But getting back to the “Book lover’s day” – I loved this one because, although I am a Mother, Sister, Doctor, Teacher (in the Indian list, on 5th September) etc. – a book lover is who I really am!! Besides the “Days of the Year’ designated day, 23rd April is the official “World Book and Copyright Day” on the UN list. How is it that publishers and book sellers don’t promote these days?
As literacy improves, more and more people are reading, as was reported in a recent HT survey – and more will be lured into the world of books, if the exposure is provided at the right time! Books are not only for providing information and knowledge. It is the magic of the stories that finally catch our imagination and get us hooked! Today movies are the entertainment of the masses – but movies take us to another world for the time we are watching, providing a temporary escape from the realities of the present. However, they don’t stroke our imagination and satisfy those corners of the mind and the soul which need only a little fuel to light a bonfire. Only stories can do that and in the absence of the oral story telling traditions of old, which we have lost in our rapidly evolving life style, books have to fill the void.And they will……
Hence, it is important that we as a society think of ways to provide the access, with innovations and imagination. I was impressed with an effort from S Africa, which has leveraged the widely available photocopier to widen access. I am sure there are many other possibilities – and it is not only better educational standards but also the opportunities to read and imagine, that will spark innovations, the lack of which we seem to be constantly ruing about!