Monday, April 23, 2012

Shakespeare and Cervantes and World Book Night

Cover ImageApril 23 is the birthday of Shakespeare (who also died on this day) and of Cervantes. Some time ago, it was marked as International Day of the Book, but other than in Kensington MD, I don’t see much reference to it. 

Taking its place is World Book Night, a new international event where the book industry donates a ton of free books, assisted by a myriad of volunteers across the country, to “light or non readers” in hopes of encouraging literacy. 

Are they simply tilting at windmills? After all, every community in America has library access. The books are there for free reading if people are so inclined, including, I’m sure, Cervantes and Shakespeare. Is the question now to help them decide to be or not to be readers? To push them to give it a try?

I’m all for encouraging reading! Obviously, as a writer I would encourage reading, but not only as a writer. I also encourage it as a perpetual learner and as someone who knows just how much I know simply because of books.

Only recently I’ve been in Ireland during the famine and during the formation of the Irish Republican Army and I now understand that formation and what they were trying to accomplish (Irish rule and Irish land belonging to the Irish). I’ve also recently been in Madrid during their Civil War, in contemporary small town rural Georgia (I lived ‘there’ several years ago and the return visit was a little blast of the past), in Paris during the big artist move to Paris to study art and the “upper class” American surge to Paris to help broaden their children’s horizons (did you know an American Ambassador was formative at the start of the war in getting many civilians out of Paris and into safety? and the big tourist dollars helped to build and rebuild the city after the war), and now I’m in both England and South Africa as I journey along with a South African nanny relocated in England.

I admit I’m one of those oddballs who loves to read Shakespeare. You know the key to understanding it? Keep going. Just like any language (and Shakespeare certainly had his own), the more you immerse yourself in it, the easier it is to understand. That applies to any fiction, including literary fiction.

In these days of YA fiction being the bestseller even among adults, I’m here pleading for adults to also read such things as Shakespeare and Cervantes, not because one is better or worse than the other, but because they are different. Different is mind-expanding. Mind-expanding is good for all of us. I’ll admit I’ve yet to read Cervantes but Don Quixote has just jumped to the top of my to-read list (with apologies to those books sitting on my shelf already waiting patiently).

Or don’t read Shakespeare and Cervantes. Pick up anything that looks interesting on a library or bookstore shelf and jump in. If that one doesn’t float your boat, move on to something else and keep trying. I don’t believe anyone actually “hates” to read; I believe they have yet to find the right book for them.

In my own little celebration of World Book Night, I’d like to offer up 3 copies of Stanley, my children’s book that is touching many adults in grief groups and personal struggles, and 3 copies of Protect The Heart, my sweet home front story safe for all ages. The catch: they have to go to your local library. Post the name and location of your library in the comments and I’ll randomly select 6 to send one copy of one of the two books, signed to your library. Either leave your email so I can contact you, or for privacy, come back here to check and see if you’ve been chosen and you can email me with mailing info. This will run for one week, or until I get 6 libraries.
ShakespeareAndCoMy valued copy of the complete works of William Shakespeare, along with Don Quixote and a few others still waiting for my attention.


Anonymous said...

Edwardsville Public Library
Edwardsville, IL

(A Carnegie Library)

You have my email Loraine or can reach me through Facebook -- Nanette

Anonymous said...

Pennington Public Library
North Main Street,
Pennington NJ 08534

Rosemary Sinniger
(I worked at this library for almost 25 years, both as volunteer and paid assistant to the librarian. Would love to see them get something with my name attached).

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately we do not have a local library. But I personally would love to buy copies of those books. You have my email, phone number, address, and everything else to get hold of. So please do. Thank you! Your devoted fan and cousin(inlaw). Annette

LK Hunsaker said...

Nanette and Rosemary, I'll get them sent to your libraries! Thanks!