With the earliest books written on rolls of papyrus dating back to 2,900 B.C., our quest for information and need to communicate cannot be underestimated.
Even further back, in the Paleolithic era, human beings found a way to share their stories through detailed cave paintings. An extant dictionary has also been found written in cuneiform on a stone tablet dated approximately 2,300 B.C. In China, some of that region’s earliest books are found on silk as a medium, written with brushes. Bone, bronze, pottery, shells, dried palm leaves and other plant materials were also used as the basis of chronicles in various parts of the world. The Royal Library of Alexandria (Egypt) was among the first libraries and largest housings for books in the ancient world, estimated to have opened two or three centuries B.C.
In the Middle Ages, reading became integral to Monastic life, where monks painstakingly copied, decorated, rebound, and conserved manuscripts in the scriptorium.
In short, and to paraphrase one of the great poets, the need to read challenges, strains, and propels us forward, and it always has.
August 9th is Book Lover’s Day, though passionate readers claim merely having a book in one’s hands makes that moment a holiday in itself. While publishing vehicles have changed and are constantly evolving (seen anyone on the treadmill lately without a Nook or Kindle?!), for most of us the quest for information–sparked as small children– grows exponentially no matter what. Sometimes we need to know in order to pass that history or English literature test, and other times we just want to know–as in how to prepare the ultimate holiday feast or about Proof of Heaven.
Still on other occasions we simply want to escape–perhaps into the pages of The Constant Gardener or Eat Pray Love. But whatever our questions, chances are the answers can be found in a book. In fact it’s been said that in the 21st Century we see more images in a single day–much of it through reading– in books, via the Internet, on cell phones, and through various other modes of technology than the Victorians did in an entire lifetime. Books in any form make an indelible mark on all of our lives, no matter when we live!
To celebrate the book and share your love of reading, book clubs are engaging forums (and if dessert is on the agenda, all the better!). Adult and children’s literacy programs can always use your skills and passion. If books have opened your world and changed your life, and you have an hour or two a week or even a month to spare, others may be inspired by that gift. Libraries, schools, neighborhood community centers, shelters, and other organizations will value your contribution–and allow you to unleash your inner book lover! Websites such as www.literacydirectory.org and www.literacyconnections.com can provide ideas to help you in your efforts.
As for the holiday, when was the last time you shared a great book with a leafy tree and a tuna sandwich? Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?!