By Mounir Beniche
By Mounir Beniche
Meknes, Morocco – About four months ago, I received a call at night from a dear friend wishing me a happy birthday and suggesting that we celebrate it together the following day. I was very delighted to hear that since I had never celebrated my birthday. We met in a cultural club and we enjoyed the event together. It was really a special day because it was my birthday and with a dear friend that I greatly appreciate. Before leaving, I was offered a precious gift from my friend: A collection of ten books of the outstanding writer Paulo Coelho. It is a collection that I had been longing to have for a long time.
Paulo Coelho, the novelist and the lyricist, is one of the most widely read authors all over the world today and his works have been translated into 71 different languages, in addition to other media adaptations. He has gained such celebrity due to his capturing style that hooks the reader and lets him or her delve into a journey of self awakening, secrets and trauma.
The three novels that I most like and have read more than once are: The Alchemist, Veronica Decides to Die and Eleven Minutes. They are really masterpieces that reveal human destiny in this unmapped world and the search of our inner-self.
What was remarkable on my birthday, and which needs reflection, was the gift itself: Books as gift. It’s a priceless and highly significant gift. It is a symbol of knowledge and enlightenment. Reading books is one of the activities that the human is destined to do and through it he or she lives many lives and experiences. This is clearly expressed by the American writer George R.R. Martin, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
Reading is a great pleasure, as Ronald Barthes wrote in his piece of writing The Pleasure of the Text, that satisfies thirsty minds for knowledge. The pleasure of reading is like the pleasure of traveling and eating. It is the incarnation of the silent taste of love within us that enjoys all beautiful activities in life. While reading, we travel in the geography of thought transcending all borders and times looking for ideas and experiences that meet our egos. It’s a highly emotional and spiritual experience when you reach your ecstasy and moment of being while reading. You delve into books’ ideas and they delve into you and you become one single entity.
However, I feel pity when I see that the pleasure of reading is not shared by many people in our Moroccan society. We waste time in trivial and useless things, which is really harmful. Reading is not just a pleasure, it’s also a must-do activity, and through it we can make progress and development like developed countries. For Morocco as a Muslim country, reading is a religious duty since it is a nation of reading. What is really paradoxical is that the nation of reading doesn’t read. Malek Bennabi, the Algerian thinker, stated, “The nation that doesn’t read dies before its time.” This is crystal clear when we see that most countries which are under-developed are not reading countries. Reading is the golden key of having access to progress and enlightenment and without it many countries are under the clutches of backwardness, poverty and totalitarianism.
For a better and a promising future we have to raise a slogan in our life: I read, so I am.
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