Today, lovers and sellers of books in Britain and Ireland have cause for celebration as March 4th has been designated World Book Day 2010 in the British Isles. The rest of the book-loving world will celebrate World Book Day on April 23rd. How come the British and Irish get to celebrate their collective love of books early, I hear you ask? Well, first let me tell you a little about the significance of April 23rd in literary circles. Both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakepeare died on April 23rd 1616, although Shakespeare died ten days later as Spain was using the Gregorian calendar while England was using the Julian calendar. Although Shakespeare’s date of birth is not known, it is also given as April 23rd, which was also the date of Vladimir Nabokov’s birth. In 1920s Spain, women began to give books as presents to their lovers every April 23rd to complement the roses that men had been giving for centuries. Every year, 400,000 books are sold in Catalonia at the end of April, representing a whopping half of all books sold throughout the year. In recognition of all these April 23rd literary goings on, UNESCO decided to launch World Book Day on this date in 1995. The day is primarily aimed at schoolchildren in Britain and Ireland but, as it often coincides with the Easter holidays there, it takes place on the first Thursday in March instead
This year, the organisers of World Book Day in Ireland have teamed up with Bookcrossing.com. Bookcrossing is the name given to the practice of leaving a copy of a book that you’ve read in a public place for either a passerby to pick up or to be collected by someone who’s come across it on the Bookcrossing site. I’ve placed five titles in a certain location in Limerick city and you can find out where on their site. The music to tie in with today’s post comes from some well-read and bookish bands, most of whom ply their musical trade in what is usually referred to as the indie scene. Towards the end of the selection, you’ll find a few songs that attempt to encapsulate some classic novels into three-minute pop classics. Albert Niland does a reasonable job of Kate Bush’s take on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. White Rabbit is based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Killing an Arab was influenced by Albert Camus’ L’Etranger (The Outsider). Finally, we finish on two spoken word pieces. Happy reading, folks!