When Maya Angelou was eight, a lady took her to the local black school library. The shelves held some 300 books, ragged copies donated from the white school and rebound with shingles covered in pretty cloth. “I want you to read every book,” the lady said.
“I don’t say I understood those books, but I read every book, and each time I would go to the library, I felt safe.”
Madeleine Thien’s Giller- and GG-winning novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing
, is set partly in China in the culturally turbulent years after the Second World War. Two sisters, Swirl and Big Mother Knife, are story-tellers who travel the country performing story cycles. “Stories, even in times like these, were a refuge, a passport, everywhere.”
Paper is not forever: it can be burned, cut, torn, crumpled, lost; it can rot, discolour, disintegrate; be eaten away by mice and mould. Even so, it is more enduring than what we think or what we say. It has the strength to carry words across vast landscapes and through millennia, from one person to hundreds, thousands, even millions. Read more
I’ve always suspected that books are good for me, but not only do they expand the mind and imagination, recent stats show that reading reduces stress levels
Annie Proulx learned to read when she was four. She read obsessively, as writers-to-be tend to do. When she was eight, she fell for Jack London’s Before Adam, a book with a black buckram cover that “influenced my choice of library books for years.” When she was eleven, she was seduced by Mutiny on the Bounty, “bound in tropic beach-sand beige. From then on I favoured books with beige covers.” Read more