Books are the purest form of escapism. They can take you to any time, place, or culture. In honor of National Book Lovers Day August 9, we put away our smartphones, pull out a good book and simply read. (Well, an audiobook will suffice too.) From clay tablets to today’s eBooks, literature has played a crucial role in preserving cultures, educating the masses, and storytelling. Thanks to Johannes Gutenberg’s 15th-century printing press, anyone, not just royalty, monks or landed gentry, could read and own books. But, alas, there was no overnight shipping. Today, join a book club or re-read a favorite novel because National Book Lovers Day rocks!
National Book Lovers Day timeline
Fit to print
Ex-goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg invents the printing press. He also creates an oil-based ink — for all that type. (We wonder if Jeff Bezos ever thinks about all this stuff.)
Iconic Left Bank bookstore Shakespeare and Company publishes James Joyce's masterpiece when no one else would give it a chance. It's widely considered one of the most important works of modernist literature.
"America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing..."
Poet Allen Ginsberg's book "Howl" is so controversial that Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner and publisher of City Lights in San Francisco, winds up busted for obscenity. The volume, including the epic "America," would go on to inspire beat poets, hippies, and cultural revolutionaries to resist conventional values in the mid-20th century.
Oprah's Book Club debuts
At the height of her popularity, Oprah Winfrey names “The Deep End of the Ocean” by Jacquelyn Mitchard as the first offering in her book club. Oprah's blessing nearly guaranteed best-seller status.
National Book Lovers Day Activities
Visit your local library
Public libraries have been around since the Middle Ages. But back in those days, books were often chained to the bookcases to prevent theft. On National Book Lovers Day, reconnect with the past by browsing the shelves at your local library. Bonus points if you pick a book off the shelf, find a cozy nook and read it right there at the library.
Make as many literary references as possible
National Book Lovers Day is a day of great expectations. It's not a quixotic task to make as many literary references as possible. If you manage to reference at least 10 books, you deserve a red badge of courage.
Participate in a book exchange
What better way to celebrate National Book Lovers Day than by trading an old favorite with a friend in exchange for something new? Better yet, get a few friends together for a group book exchange. Before handing off your book, share a few words about what that book means to you.
Why We Love National Book Lovers Day
Books connect us to the universe
American novelist James Baldwin said it best: "You think your pain and heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read." Books help us understand each other, feel less alone, and put our complex emotions into words.
Books let us escape the limits of time and space
Books are powerful. They're the only medium that can transport us through time and space — into the past, present, future, and faraway worlds — galaxies away. We don't even have to leave our couch or change out of our pajamas!
The book Is (usually) better than the movie
Can you think of many movies that break this rule? Screenplays often simplify subtle complexities of the book and sadly, in many cases, the original author may have very little input. Go to the movies? No, thanks. We'd rather read a book! At least on National Book Lovers Day.