It is called 'Stop What You're Doing and Read This!'
It contains ten essays by writers such as Jeanette Winterson, Zadie Smith etc. about the experience of reading, why access to books should never be taken for granted, how reading transforms our brains, and how literature can save lives. In any 24 hours there are so many demands on our time and attention - and we are encouraged to make books one of them.
Here is an extract from the essay by Jeanette Winterson, one of my all time favourite authors.
"To cross the threshold of a book is to make a journey in total time. I don't think of reading as leisure time or wasted time and especially not as downtime. The total time of a book is more like uptime than downtime, in the way that salmon seim upstream to get home.
We have lost all sense of home - whether it's the natural world, our only planet, or our bodies, now sites of anxiety and dissatisfaction, or our scrabble for property in vast alienated cities where few can afford safety, peace, quiet, even a garden.
How can a book get me home? It reminds me of where home is, by which I mean I am remapped by the book. My internal geography shifts, my values shift. I remember myself, my world, my body, who I am."
I might quote a bit more from this book on another day, I love it so much. It reminds me why I need to read, and what reading does for us, how it changes us.
There is also a very enlightening essay by Jane Davis of The Reader Organisation. She initiates projects to get people reading aloud together. She says:
"Read a poem alone and you have your own experience and imagination to touch the poem into life. Read it with six others and you have six lives and six imaginations with which to inhabit this flexible human-shaped space."
I could go on and on, so I will restrain myself now and say buy the book, or better still, hope a loved one will treat you to it!