By Ruth Cawley

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies … The man who never reads lives only one.”

– George R.R. Martin.

“I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

– Harper Lee.

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

– Groucho Marx.

Books are one of the earliest forms of media, being used for both educational and entertainment purposes. They undeniably enrich one’s life by bequeathing information, provoking imagination, and providing an escape from the monotony of life when we need it. We use books in schools to learn core subjects, archive histories and cultures, and tell creative stories. Some of the greatest books have made their way into other media like films, television series, comics, graphic novels, podcasts, and more. Examples of this include series like Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, and His Dark Materials. In this digital age, people often prefer using electronics like Kindle devices or audiobooks to absorb this type of material rather than peruse physical books.

An article in The Guardian last year offered more perspective into what children are reading and why. According to the 2023 What Kids Are Reading report, approximately 27 million books were read by pupils across the UK and Ireland in the academic year 2020-2021. This was 24% higher than the previous year and the article attributed increased reading levels to social media trends like BookTok.

Books are proven to have positive effects on people’s health, both in a physical and mental sense. In fact, reading regularly is like food for your brain wherein its neural pathways are stimulated. Thus, your memory and cognitive function are enhanced which can increase levels of creativity and learning ability.  Other side effects include lowered blood pressure, greater quality of sleep, lower stress levels, and generally increased lengths of brain activity. For people who are not avid readers, simply reading short articles on your phone or pamphlets on topics that peak your interest would be beneficial to you in the long run.

Let’s be honest – everything is much more expensive today than it was ten or twenty years ago. Electronics like iPhones, MacBooks and Kindles are among the dearest items you can purchase. However, books tend to sell for prices around fifteen to twenty euros per copy, depending on the type of binding (paperback vs hardback) and where you buy them from. If you shop around, there are many bookshops that sell books second-hand or at reduced or bundled prices. Easons, Dubray, and Hodges & Figgis are the go-to bookshops for Dublin dwellers and, books are often sold at normal retail prices. The smaller, family-owned booksellers tend to be partial to three-for-one deals and sell classics at reduced rates. Examples of these are Liber Bookshop in Sligo, Vibes & Scribes in Cork, or Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop in Galway.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

– Dr Seuss.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

– Stephen King.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

– Walt Disney.