Friday 6 December 2019

Reading Matters

Years ago, I heard Alan Bennett tell how he came out of the National Theatre on London's South Bank, having watched a play with some friends. As they approached Waterloo Bridge, a homeless woman huddled under a blanket called out "Give us some change sir, they've taken away my books"
Bennett, an avid reader [and writer] could not imagine life without his books. He fished in his wallet and gave her a £20 note. He ran to catch up with his friends, and told them of the encounter. 
They laughed at him, and said "She meant her benefit books"
Well, maybe she did - but I know how much books have contributed to my life. Why should people who are 'of no fixed abode' be deprived of reading, along with all the other comforts of life?
Some homeless people are able to visit their local libraries - and enjoy a warm welcome as well as access to reading materials - but more than 800 libraries have been closed since David Cameron entered Downing Street in 2010 [equivalent to one closure every 4½ days]
So I was very glad when Liz told me about a scheme called "#BuyShelterABook" - [launched on Monday on Twitter] by an independent bookshop in London. It asks people to send donations, and these will be used by Shelter in 12 of their UK 'hubs' to buy books for homeless people. Full story here
Yes, I know they need food, and blankets and warm clothes [and ultimately a settled place to live] but books can change lives. "Books were my pass to personal freedom" said Oprah Winfrey of her early life. I applaud Simon Key, the bookshop owner, for setting up this initiative.
This appeal runs for one week only, and finishes tomorrow evening, and the Big GreenBookshop in Wood Green will add to the final amount donated. 


  1. That is a good idea. Books are important!

  2. As a complete and obsessive bibliophile, I couldn't agree more. My church runs a variety of programs for the homeless in downtown Toronto and one of the things we put out for them to take are a number of donated books - and they are very popular. It is not unusual here to see someone pan handling - or simply setting up somewhere but with a book in hand. Where I worked previously there was a fellow who had his spot just at the subway entrance and while folks gave him money he was also very appreciative of donated books and was always reading something. They can make a huge difference in someone's life!


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