Daniel Pennac the French writer and teacher, wrote a short non-fiction book, originally published in French in 1992 “Comme un Roman” (The English title was “The Rights of the Reader“). It’s a wonderfully economical and witty exploration of why we read and why we don’t.
Pennac describes how young children are introduced to the magic of reading. Then he examines how they’re put off usually at school, when they are asked questions about what they are reading and reading becomes a dreary chore.
In the book Pennac lays down the 10 rights of the reader (droits du lecteur).
- Le droit de ne pas lire. The right not to read.
- Le droit de sauter des pages. The right to skip pages.
- Le droit de ne pas finir un livre. The right to not finish a book.
- Le droit de relire. The right to reread.
- Le droit de lire n’importe quoi. The right to read anything.
- Le droit au bovarysme (maladie textuellement transmissible). The right to escapism.
- Le droit de lire n’importe où. The right to read anywhere. (I like to read on the metro, despite the often odd stares by my fellow travellers)
- Le droit de grappiller. The right to skip in.
- Le droit de lire à haute voix. The right to read out loud.
- Le droit de nous taire. The right to be quiet.
The third rule is good, the right not to finish a book. Many people are of the mindset that if you start a book you are forced to finish it. I will usually give a book 30 or 40 pages and if it hasn’t caught me by then, I’ll find something else to read. Some books require more perseverance.
This month, there have been a three books, which I have started but they failed to grab me, they still have the bookmarks in place, but the chances of me finishing them are close to zero. They may be good books, but I am not prepared to put in the effort to find out, I’d rather something that draws me in and doesn’t let go (like “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini which I did read all the way through this month.
Tomorrow (Wednesday 1 February) is Tbilisi English Book Swap, if any of these books interest you and you are in Tbilisi, come along to the Teahouse (in Lagidze street opposite the Opera House) from 7.30pm and you can have them.