The 22nd edition of the Colombo International Book Fair will open its pages to the public from tomorrow, September 18 till September 27. Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association President Upali Wanigasooriya has said that in previous years some million people attended the book fair, but this year with the COVID-19 pandemic casting its shadow over the country, the numbers may be about 500,000.
He said as in past years, the Book Fair would be held at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre of the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) in Colombo 7 under strict health guidelines with all precautionary measures in place to ensure there is no danger from COVID-19.
Incidentally, last Monday, the deadly pestilence claimed the life of another patient in Sri Lanka, the 13th to die of the infection. Senior Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera said the victim was a 60-year-old Sri Lankan, who had returned from Bahrain. The foregoing only shows that COVID-19 is still hovering around and there is no room for complacency.
With Colombo’s popular International Book Fair as the backdrop, we thought there was no better time as this to focus on books and the hours of pleasure that could be derived from reading them. Once you befriend them, books have the possibility of transporting you to other worlds, give you insights into many different cultures, open your mind to new ways of thinking, perceiving and doing things that you once thought were impossible or un-achievable.
A person who turns to books when despondent, depressed or dejected will definitely find solace and succour within their pages. They will not only provide entertainment and pleasure, but broaden the reader’s horizons, deepen his or her knowledge, increase their vocabulary, transport them through verdant jungles, up snow-capped mountains and across stormy seas.
“Let books be your dining table, and you shall be full of delights. Let them be your mattress, and you shall sleep restful nights,” said St. Ephraim the Syrian.
The fact that books are the greatest source of information and yield a myriad benefits brooks no arguments. To escape unscathed from the whirlpool of competitiveness we are trapped in, which for most children begins when preparing for the Grade-5 scholarship exam. It’s advantageous to amass a vast amount of knowledge on varied subjects and there’s no better way to do it other than by reading good books.
As Mark Twain said, “The person who does not read has no advantage over the person who cannot read. They are both stuck on the same page”.
Books are the best source of information that can give you a great edge and distinct advantage in life and the answers to nearly all our problems are documented in texts somewhere. With new information we will be like flowing rivers, not growing stale or stagnant.
They can stimulate and excite your imagination as well as arouse your curiosity, everything that exists or has ever existed is documented and can be found in a book. Reading can teach new skills, derive new ideas and give you a positive outlook on life. Books can take you out of your world and away from your difficulties for a while as they let you into the minds, ideas and opinions of others.
The reading habit which was the mainstay of many, especially when commuting to and from work during the ‘good old days’, is now fast fading if not already faded. We need to regain the reading habit and be bitten by the reading bug and with the book fair around the corner, it appears to be the best time to do so.
Many avoid buying books fearing they would clutter their living space, and if there is nobody to take them over or for some reason if neglected, the books would end up as fodder for termites and silverfish. When you have finished with your books, digested and gleaned the wisdom they contain, you could always donate them to a library or to children of low-income families so that their horizons too would be broadened and help them climb the ladder of life.
So make your way to the Book Fair and select your books, which will keep you company for the rest of your life. They will never nag you nor irritate or annoy you but will be there to share its knowledge, whenever you have the mind to delve into their pages.
What books have done for countless of people, they will surely do for you.