World Book Day is a charity focused on giving every child and young person a book of their own. It’s also a global celebration of authors, illustrators, books, and reading organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
This year marks the 25th World Book Day and now, more than ever, is a great time to nestle in with a good book and ignore the outside world for a couple chapters. The primary purpose of World Book Day is to encourage literary exploration and discover the pleasure of reading by providing people with books through participating schools and booksellers.
In the UK and through the generosity of publishers and booksellers, World Book Day sends millions of book tokens to children and young people, which they can use to pick one of ten completely free books or for a discount on any book or audiobook.
World Book day website
According to World Book Day website, nearly 3 in 5 children who participate feel they read more and almost half say they buy more books. A third also read more with their parents due to taking part in World Book Day, with half of those believing they subsequently read more independently. 1 in 4 pupils (25.2%) say that the book they ‘bought’ with their 2016 World Book Day book token was their first book of their own.
To celebrate this day of literature and word nerds, I’ve decided to highlight four incredible writers whose work inspired me to become a writer myself.
Albert Camus’ The Plague was published in 1947 and, in preparation to write this masterpiece, Camus researched the history of plagues, from the Black Death of 14th Century Europe, the great plague of London in 1665, plus plagues that struck China’s eastern seashore during the 18th and 19th centuries.
As highlighted by philosopher Alain de Botton, “Camus was not writing about one plague in particular, nor was this narrowly, as has sometimes been suggested, a metaphoric tale about the Nazi occupation of France. He was drawn to his theme because he believed that the actual historical incidents we call plagues are merely concentrations of a universal precondition, dramatic instances of a perpetual rule: that all human beings are vulnerable to being randomly exterminated at any time, by a virus, an accident, or the actions of our fellow man.”
Camus himself was killed in a car accident and this reinforces the idea Camus explored throughout his writing – death and suffering are random, non-sensical, and often absurd in nature. The Plague is a great book for those of us who get anxiety from watching or reading the news because it can help us make sense of the absurdity of death, legislation, and social distancing at a time when all are prevalent.
Gabriel García Márquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude is an epic novel first published in 1967 (in English in 1970) and written by the pioneer of magical realism literature, Gabriel García Márquez. The story chronicles seven generations of the Buendía family in the fictional town of Macondo in Colombia.
The book was written and published at a time when most Latin American writers were steeped in indigenismo, giving a voice to the indigenous cultures of South America. But unlike most Latin-American literary works of the time that favoured succinct language and social realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude was filled with poetic language and fantastical events. It essentially birthed the style that García Márquez would continue to write for decades – magical realism, which presents magical events as mundane moments.
Gabriel García Márquez brought international acclaim to Latin American writing, spawned a genre of literature, and his seminal work One Hundred Years of Solitude is being adapted to film for the first time ever with Netflix securing the rights in 2019 to create an limited series regarding the Buendía family. Furthermore, García Márquez inspired generations of fellow writers across the globe including my next author…
F. Sionil José
Much like García Márquez, F. Sionil José is fascinated with class struggles and the impact of Spanish colonialism. José is probably the greatest modern writer of the Philippines and his Rosales Saga novels are considered as vital to Filipino literature as ‘100 Years of Solitude’ is to Latin American writing.
The Rosales Saga consists of five books spanning over 100 years, all set in Rosales, Pangasinan, in northern Philippines. Beginning with the Philippine-American War of the 1880s and ending in the 1970s when martial law was imposed by then-president Ferdinand Marcos, this epic saga is a wonderful portrait of life in the Philippines throughout its history of imperial rulers, wars, and internal conflicts.
José is especially close to my heart as it gave me a fascinating look at my parents’ homeland, especially since the declaration of martial law in the Philippines is what motivated my parents to migrate to Australia. José is critical reading for any Filipino, Asian, or curious person who wants to learn more about the ever-evolving politics and social conflict seen throughout the Philippines’ history.
Hunter S. Thompson
The first book that made me believe I could be a writer was Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson’s style of writing has also spawned entire generations of wannabes (myself included) because his unique literary voice captured the disdain and disillusion of America for over 50 years.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is peak Thompson for so many reasons. Firstly, the hedonism and depravity are unmatched to this day. While originally published in 1971, this book is a timeless exploration of overconsumption, insanity, and rebellion that remains iconic to this day. The story was also translated into a wild film by Monty Python alumni, Terry Gilliam.
Hunter S. Thompson writes like a machine gun – his use of language, regardless of context, oozes in style and violence. But his aggression on the page reflects the frustrations of an entire generation that was flourishing during the ‘free love’ movement of the 1960s and was quickly brought back to reality in the subsequent years; from the Vietnam War to JFK’s assassination, the Civil Rights Movement and eventual Nixon years – who would become Thompson’s nemesis in the years that follow. Thompson is a fascinating read, but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas captures his voice perfectly and demonstrates why he’s the blueprint for ‘drug-fuelled literary genius’.
Need more writing inspiration? Check out our blog about Cinco de Mayo and Star Wars or download our free Ultimate Guide to Content Writing to get the ins and outs of writing for different platforms and audiences.