On Thursday 3 March, it was officially World Book Day and across the globe people were taking part in the occasion either by dressing up as their favourite character or by simply reading a book.
The origins of this event
The original idea of the event was actually conceived in 1922 by a Spanish writer Vicente Clavel Andrés as a way to honour the author, Miguel de Cervantes, and first celebrated on 7 October 1926. Cervantes is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language, who is best known for his novel Don Quixote, cited as being the first modern novel and is one of the most translated works in the world.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1995 decided that the World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on 23 April, as the date is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.
The UK’s version of World Book Day began in 1998, launched by the prime minister at the time, Tony Blair at the Globe Theatre in London. Several million schoolchildren in the UK were then given a special £1 World Book Day Book Token, which could then be redeemed for any book in any store.
How do you take part?
This year in the UK many celebrities dressed up as characters of their choosing. For example, Amanda Holden, a well-known judge on Britain’s Got Talent and a co-host on the Heart Breakfast radio show, decided to dress up as one of The Three Musketeers. She was also joined with her co-hosts on the Heart Breakfast, Ashley Roberts and Jamie Theakston who also dressed up as the musketeers.
Apart from dressing up as your favourite characters there are of course other ways to take part. You can start shopping at independent bookstores, to support the need for books. You can also give books that you no longer need to your local public library, to spread the joy of reading to larger groups of people. If you are extra generous you can donate to book charities with a couple being Books for Africa and Book Aid International.
Some of my personal recommendations
Thanks to my university course, I have been reading a lot of books from numerous authors and historians about world history and politics. Therefore, I believe that I may have some recommendations, although I may be a tad biased with my choices.
Hitler and Stalin by Lawrence Rees
My bias for history may be quite clear here, however, I still think that it is an incredible read for anyone. The book examines the two tyrants and their actions during the Second World War. Rees talks about how that even though Hitler and Stalin were mortal enemies and were fighting each other vigorously they were quite similar to one another. To support his arguments Rees collects eyewitness testimony from soldiers of the Red Army and Wehrmacht, and civilians who suffered throughout the war and those who knew the two men personally.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian social science fiction novel written by English writer George Orwell. Apparently, Orwell modelled the society in the book after Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. And within this dystopian world, Orwell tells a tale about a man known as Winston Smith who secretly hates the society he lives in and dreams of rebellion. He enters a forbidden relationship with his colleague Julia and together they remember and dream of society before became a dictatorship.
A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket
This series of books is a bit of an anomaly in this list of recommendations as it has very little to do with history or politics. Instead, it’s about three children being orphaned after the death of their parents under supposedly an accidental fire in their house. Soon after they are put into the care of Count Olaf who is quickly discovered to be after the children’s inheritance. Each book in this series shows the children going from place to place to survive the sometimes-deadly plots Olaf has put together to retrieve the inheritance all for himself.