Updated: Jun 12, 2019
February 2, 2012
I am an advocate for book culture. I want to create a world where books are desired and cherished and fill countless shelves in countless homes. I want to overhear people discussing books; I want to read books and then read books about books. I want everyone to experience that great comfort when finding a beautiful book and turning that first page. I want everyone to feel their pulse race when they read an astonishing first line. I want to see movies based on books, watch book trailers, enjoy the physical beauty of books themselves. I am a book nerd and I realize not everyone shares my book-centric fantasy. Still, I think the world would be a better place if we were to work at cultivating more book culture.
Here, in no particular order, are a dozen suggestions for creating book culture in our homes, book culture for our families and book culture in our lives and communities. I hope you’ll post some additional ideas.
1. Make a date with a book. There are so many competing events and forces that can come between ourselves and a good book. Having “no time to read” means only that we’ve “made” or “chosen” no time to read. If we make a book date, plan on meeting up with a desired book in that special comfy chair over a glass of wine or afternoon cup of tea, we can reignite our passion for books. Sometimes it’s a Sunday morning, staying in bed for several chapters with a warm mug of coffee on the nightstand.
2. Keep a book handy. In your purse, the glove compartment of your car, the baby’s diaper bag. You never know when there will be a free moment, a line to wait on, a napping baby and you will be prepared and happy.
3. Talk about books. Next time there’s a lull in a conversation, ask expectantly ‘so are you reading anything wonderful lately?’ If your friends look at you oddly, perhaps it’s time to find some book loving friends.
4. Join a book group, start a book group, recruit a book buddy (book group of two). Create themed book groups for different genres and purposes.
5. Never force a child to read or listen to a story. Same goes for bribes and threats. Encourage, share and model.
6. Read aloud. To a child, a lover, someone ill, yourself. Enjoy both the sounds of the words as well as the way they feel in your mouth as you say them. Especially poetry.
7. Visit libraries, many and often. Talk with the librarians, they are filled with amazing knowledge about books.
8. Keep a library basket in your home filled with the current books you’ve borrowed.
9. Give every newborn a large bookshelf (preferably well stocked). You’ll want board books, classics, award winners and the ones you grew up with or raised your own children with. Include books with the baby’s name (Olivia, Madeline, No David).
10. Give books as gifts. If you don’t know a person’s interests, give a gift card to their local independent book shop. Get the name, number and website of their local shop at Indiebound.org.
11. Support authors. Live and dead ones. Attend book signings of the live ones. Visit and support historic sites – Emily Dickinson’s home in Amherst … the beautiful Faulkner House in New Orleans.
12. Be an equal opportunity reader, that is, give yourself (and your child) permission to read what suits your fancy, be it serious, light, silly or profound – give it all a try, trust your curiosity and whims.