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Why the world needs a day dedicated to books

World Book Day, The Riff Raff

Every day seems to bring a new horror story about the demise of books.

Children aren't reading anymore, especially boys. Sales of fiction are down; publishers are going under; our attention spans have been decimated by 15 second cat videos, so who wants to settle down with a 90,000 word novel?

It means that World Book Day is more crucial than ever. It not only brings books back into the public consciousness but reminds the naysayers that, actually, books are still beautiful, enduring and beloved by millions of us the world over.

If you are a Bibliophile, chances are your love affair with books began in childhood, learning words with Spot, escaping to The Secret Garden, scoffing along with Adrian Mole, gasping at the power of Anne Frank's diary.

World Book Day may strike horror into the hearts of parents but children love it: dressing up as their favourite book character allows them to bring their secret world to life, to be part of it, to show their love and allegiance to the Wimpy Kid and The Boy in the Dress and assorted Star Wars characters...even if it does mean taking a little artistic licence.

Last-minute costume dramas aside, we should encourage children on World Book Day.

As adults, the day is a chance to reminisce on old favourites. There is nothing quite like discovering a friend or colleague who loved Ballet Shoes as much as you...nearly as much, anyway, because no one will ever 'get' it like you did.

Such is the joy of books: we get to internalise a book in our own way, make it special, make it ours, even when the same words have been read by millions of other people, in various linguistic iterations around the world.

It is also a chance to sing the praises of new finds – something we are evangelical about here at The Riff Raff. An old, beloved book, dog-eared, re-read for the 30th time, is comforting and familiar: a mug of hot chocolate, a whiff of your mother's perfume.

The characters are like old friends and the sentences offer aspiring writers a glimpse at perfection.

But a new book, devoured in days and resonant for weeks after, is a cheap, simple and sheer joy. Once uncovered, your new gem is best shared: amongst friends and family, around your office, or pinned up on Twitter, loud and proud, alongside a hashtag that, even just for a day, will take your favourite words around the world.

World Book Day reminds us to stay curious, to push our literary boundaries and to keep searching for that new thrill.


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