Episode 10: Celebrating Books

“Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”
(Sonnet 116)”William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare, Sonnets

Today is World Book Day, a celebration that has been in place since April 23, 1995. UNESCO chose the date carefully. In the past, Spanish tradition sets aside April 23rd as “The Rose Day” when friends and family exchange roses, however in 1926 there was a transition to exchanging books to commemorate the passing of renowned Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes, who passed on April 22, 1616.  April 23rd also remembers William Shakespeare’s anniversary of his death 1616. Two great authors who died a day apart, inspire us today to treasure books – not by placing them carefully behind book cases with glass doors, but by reading them cover to cover, again and again. Words carry ideas and ideas transform the way we think, live and engage within a wider community.

I’m celebrating World Book Day by going back in time to Orkney, the late 19th century Victorian period. I am at  Kirbuster and the Corrigall Farm Museum which has a working barn, grain kiln, horse-drawn machinery and livestock.  In a small sitting room, there is a piano.  Beside the piano is a library with three shelves.  The books show the signs of being well-used and well-loved.   I smell the peat fire that brings back a time where people would sit together as day passed into night.  There would be conversations about the day’s work and plans for the next day.  Stories would be told, songs sand and books read aloud.

Books and libraries, small and large, speak of our hopes and dreams, our memories of the past and hopes for the future – it is the narrative of humanity.  May we continue to read and add pages to the unfolding story.

“Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is nobel, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth.”
“What giants?” Asked Sancho Panza.
“The ones you can see over there,” answered his master, “with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long.”
“Now look, your grace,” said Sancho, “what you see over there aren’t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone.”
“Obviously,” replied Don Quixote, “you don’t know much about adventures.”
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote