Last night in the UK over a million books were given away as we celebrated World Book Day and Night, and yesterday I did what I do most weekends and went to my local library. I am one of the really lucky ones to never live more than 10 minutes away from a library.
My first library was a brand new one, built in the 1960s at Kent Elms corner. I still remember having to queue up after school on the day it opened with my two pink junior library tickets and dashing down to the end of the library to find two shelves down on the left hand side the holy grail for me - a shelf of Enid Blyton books: Secret Seven, St Clare's, Mallory Towers, Noddy, The Faraway Tree, The Naughtiest Girl in the School - there were times when my mother thought she would never get me into the Adult Library with its jade coloured tickets.
Then I moved to Limehouse and the rather imposing Passmore Edwards Library with it fabulous wooden panels and to my shame I did something really awful there. I lost a book. It was a copy of Harper Lee's, To Kill a Mocking Bird, which I left behind in the women's common room in the London Hospital Student Union. As you can tell, many years later I still feel badly about this.
Then it was on to Cable Street in Stepney, which was a pre-fab building, complete with corrugated iron roof which leaked copiously during rain storms so that librarians and readers ran about with buckets to capture the drips. Best of all was the fantastic mural of the 1936 Cable Street riots when the East End stood full square against the tyranny of Oswald Moseley's Blackshirts.
Then back to Leigh-on-sea where my library is the old rectory for St Clement's church. This library serves the whole community from tiny tot to OAP and everybody in between. With its knowledgeable band of librarians who will recommend books and find you a new and exciting author. And best of all when you have chosen your books, you can slip out in the Spring sunshine and sit in the Library Gardens and read your book, occasionally glancing up to see the tide coming in on the estuary. Life is sometimes very beautiful.
So, if you have time today, pick up your favourite book, read a couple of chapters, thank your lucky stars that you are able to read and escape to another world. Then when you go to your local library, remember to say thank you to the librarians for being there because for many in the UK our libraries are facing swingeing cuts. We need libraries, we need books, we need reading to make us the civilised society we need to be.
So do you have a fave book? Let me know what it is and why I should read it.