Few years ago the BBC launched a campaign to promote reading. The campaign was called (The Big Read) and used a book worm as a mascot for the project. The aim was to choose the favourite 200 books voted by the public and then choosing the best 21 titles. The survey carried out by the BBC, aimed on finding the “Nation’s Best-loved Book” by way of a viewer vote via the Web, SMS, and telephone. The project focused more on literary books especially novels, and many schools and public libraries across Britain established book clubs and some groups campaigned for their favourite author to be voted the best.
This campaign and other efforts and events, and scientific research on the importance of reading from early age, made me ponder on the situation of reading and books in our region and more specifically to the reading situation inLibya.
Lots of surveys and statistics showed that the average time spent reading by an Arab adult is way below the world average, not forgetting that the number of books published in Arabic annually is nothing compared to just one non-English speaking European country. And with the wide range of satellite channels and the inefficient education system and the time spent by children watching television or using the internet for entertainment, I find myself in front a gloomy picture of the future.
The culture of ignorance and ridiculous entertainment became a daily fact we face everywhere we go, and the atmosphere of oppression and lack of basic freedoms and human rights is making it difficult for all of us to promote another culture supported by reading in schools and homes.
It is not a surprise then to find ourselves confronting a new cultural phenomenon based on intolerance, hatred, and death. A culture that celebrates banning and burning books and promoting a false image of the world based on paranormal explanation and pseudo-science, which eventually produces a frustrated, pessimistic, violent society we live with today.
The question here is, can we as parents, teachers, academics, writers, and book lovers, change this situation? Can we one day establish book clubs and reading groups? Will we live a day when we launch a book reading campaign like (The Big Read)? Or are we just going to stand on edge of reality, defeated, watching more shredding and burning of books.