I would offer Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, or Agua Viva by Clarice Lispector. If we were to chose a book of poetry, rather than prose, I would vote for Pablo Neruda’s Canto General or maybe Here and/or Monologue of a Dog by Wislawa Szymborska. (You know, I’m finding it harder to choose just one book of poetry than just one book of prose.)
Tonight is a big night from for booklovers in my part of the planet. Following on from the original date of World Book Day (marking the anniversary of the deaths of Shakespeare and Cervantes), World Book Night is the time when bibliophiles in the UK, Ireland and the US give away free copies of some popular titles in an effort to encourage reluctant readers to get into stories.
There’s a serious point behind it: with 35 per cent of adults in the UK claiming not to read for pleasure, there is a huge group of people for whom books are a closed, er, book. It’s great that tonight might give some of them a chance to discover what they’re missing.
All the same, I can’t help being disappointed when I look at the list of the 20 books that volunteers in the UK will be distributing this evening. Though…
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