Celebrate World Book Day!

April is a very literary month. National Poetry Month is in April and so is National Library Week, and on April 23 it’s National Shakespeare Day, the same day that we celebrate World Book Day.

World Book and Copyright Day, as it’s also known, was established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1995 as a special day dedicated to books, authors, and intellectual property. Its history actually goes back to 1922 when Vicente Clavel Andres, a book publisher in Barcelona, Spain, proposed a special day for the celebration of books to honor his country’s most famous writer, Miguel de Cervantes.

World Book Day brings people together to appreciate the value of books and the contributions that writers make to culture and social progress. It’s also a great opportunity to share with others the books we enjoy.

Here are some books you can pick up from your local library to read for World Book Day! You can also find some of these titles in our e-book collection.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes was originally the inspiration for World Book Day. He is perhaps Spain’s most famous writer who is best known for Don Quixote. In this epic tale, Alonso Quijano, a man from La Mancha, believes himself to be a knight-errant on a quest to bring back chivalry and serve his country. He assumes the title Don Quixote de la Mancha and recruits a simple farm hand who serves as his squire. Together they embark on fantastical adventures lead by Quixote’s wild imagination.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

This was the Library’s 2012 One City, One Story book. It’s inspired by a true story of a text known as the Sarajevo Haggadah. Hanna Heath, a rare-book expert, is offered a job to analyze and preserve this rare manuscript. In the book she finds some interesting artifacts and wants to know their history and is determined to unlock their mysteries as well as that of the book. In her quest she is helped by people who in a sense take her back to the origin of the book and show her the amazing and perilous journey it has taken from its place of origin to where it’s now.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Mr. Stevens is the key narrator in this story in which he reflects on a life of loyal service to Lord Darlington at Darlington Hall where he was the chief butler. After his employer dies, the estate is purchased by an American named Mr. Farraday, who encourages him to take a holiday and lends Stevens his car to take a motoring trip. During his vacation to meet an old acquaintance who was also a former colleague, he looks back on his life serving Darlington and wondered if he was the exemplary person he believed him to be. He also wondered what could have been if he had opened up to the former housekeeper whom he is visiting while on vacation. As his story closes, he comes to a bitter realization that his ideas, hopes, and identity were but a self-delusion.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

This novel has somewhat of a philosophical bent to it, maybe a bit existentialist. It’s about a Parisian concierge who like the butler in The Remains of the Day is reserved, stoic, and seemingly aloof. Despite her station in life, Renée Michel is very intelligent yet keeps this fact about herself from others until she befriends a precocious girl who moves into the apartment complex. This new resident slowly opens her eyes to life and eventually her heart through philosophical discussions and a genuine interest in the concierge’s life. Just when you begin to feel like you are getting to know Renée and like her, something happens to her at the end that leaves you wondering about the absurdity of life.

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Maus is a historical graphic novel that is somewhat of a family history. It recounts the author’s father’s experience in German-occupied Poland in the 1930s. His story is one of survival during a dark chapter of human history in which Jews in Germany and other European countries were rounded up and put in concentration camps. What makes Maus unique is its portrayal of nationalities and groups of people as a type of animal, in particular Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats. Despite the “cartoonish” cast of characters, the art of Spiegelman doesn’t take away or diminish the horror of the Holocaust. The book is in two parts, and both are exceptionally good and very engaging.

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong to work as a piano teacher for a wealthy Chinese couple. She begins an affair with their driver, Will Truesdale, who has a tragic past. As the affair progresses, the secrets of the past soon reveal themselves to all involved.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

This is one of Kafka’s most notable short stories about a salesman named Gregor Samsa who one day wakes up as a giant bug. That’s ridiculous, right? After this transformation, his family keeps him locked up in his room and everyone except his sister neglects him. But she soon finds that taking care of Gregor is a burden on the family and tells her parents that they must get rid of this thing that she no longer sees as her brother. It’s an absurd tale, and one must truly accept the absurdity of the story to fully appreciate it.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

The story begins in Shanghai, China, where sisters Pearl and May live a nice and tranquil life. But one day their father is caught in a gambling debt and they are forced to flee and eventually find their way to Los Angeles. From there their story fully opens up and we find the two sisters caught between two languages and culture. Their struggle takes on a new meaning when May finds out she is pregnant and the sisters are forced to keep a secret that no one should ever find out. Highly recommend the follow-up Dreams of Joy.

Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language by Eva Hoffman

Eva Hoffman was born in Poland from parents who had survived the Holocaust. Wanting to build a better life, her family moved to Canada where Hoffman was introduced to a new culture with its own language, foods, sounds, and smells. It was very different than the Eastern bloc country she grew up in. She felt like a stranger but this feeling was even more pronounced when she moved to Texas. This is a somewhat autobiographical narrative of Hoffman’s experience of moving and adapting to a new land and language, a place where she felt like an exile and a stranger. It’s a remarkable story about a young girl who came to America and not really knowing English but who would later in life earn a PhD. in English and American literature.

Works by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is believed to have been born on April 23, 1564. April 23 also happens to be the day that he died in 1616. So on this date every year people from around the world celebrate his life and work. Whether it’s one of his tragedies, comedies, histories, or sonnets, check out one of his plays or poetry at your library as a way to celebrate both National Shakespeare Day and World Book Day!