Everything is in books
On World Book Day, we would like to share the pleasure of reading with you
The prolific singer/songwriter Luis Eduardo Aute wrote a song whose title was based on a chorus that said “everything, everything, everything is written in books”. The rest of the lyrics form a litany of the great works of universal literature through the mythical or real places they describe, through characters who were once the property of the person who conceived them but now belong to everyone, from Don Quixote to Lord Jim, from Samarkand to the fields of Soria. I love this song because it reflects the very best of books, the part that makes us grow as people, because unfortunately there are also books whose content should never have been recorded in writing; ideas that have given rise to wars, hatred, and discrimination: all this can also be found in books.
But what I most like about Aute is that he subtly transmits the magic of reading, that continuum mediated by the imagination that goes from the author’s creation to the reader’s reception, which fills us with astonishment over and over again because although everything can be found in books, it is the imagination of each individual that makes each one as different as the reader wants. When I reread a book, I always experience the same feelings I had when I first read it; I imagine the same things I imagined back then, although I should know by now how the story pans out. So whenever I read 1984, I believe that Winston Smith will refuse to accept that two plus two makes five, no matter how much the minions of the Ministry of Love torture him; and that despite what we know from the title and the first sentence of the novel (Chronicle of a Death Foretold), Santiago Nasar’s life is saved.
Humanity is words; speech is what defines us, what retains the memory of what we have been and foretells who we want to be. Words, placed one after the other, have the performative capacity to imagine and create reality. The literate city was initially a very limited space; few people were able to enjoy the teachings of Socrates. Later on, only a few more were able to access a written record of them. Writing, reading and books were the tools of power, of the Church, of its abbeys and monasteries, of monarchs and nobles who, in their libraries, enjoyed what the common folk could not.
A movement – the Renaissance – and an invention – the printing press – changed everything. From that moment on, the monopolies of knowledge began to crumble and the literate city housed more and more people; more people read and wrote, and consequently there were more protagonists of that reality that started to become discourse. And yes, we realize that the dream of reason can produce monsters, but it has also helped, from the Enlightenment onwards, to banish inequality, poverty and absolute power. Now that books are acquiring new formats that can get past the censors and mediators who might encourage, or prevent, the message from reaching the reader, power will be less and less absolute and arbitrary as more and more people will have access to all kinds of writings; because books are a repository of good ideas that ignite the engine within us and change the world. They have always been with us, from cuneiform inscriptions to e-books, because above and beyond the actual format, and in the same way that video did not kill the radio star, books always will be with us because everything – past, present and future – is in books.
Happy World Book Day!
Luis Miguel García Mora, Director of Publications.
Music and literature. A constant communion across time.
Welcome to our most literary playlist. In 28 songs, we revisit great works of universal literature such as Don Quixote, Lolita and 1984 that inspired musicians from every era. In the company of Miles Davis, Camarón, Serrat, The Cure and Radiohead, among others, we invite you to discover the words hidden in their songs.
On World Book Day, once again, music and literature are brought together.
Put on your headphones, turn up the volume, and enjoy!