Groucho Marx, master of quick wit and caustic quip, said that “outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend, inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read”.
While a dog is a faithful companion, with a book in your hand you’re also in good company.
Groucho, who with Chico, Harpo, Gummo, and Zeppo made up the hilarious Marx Brothers, was already a keen reader when poverty forced him to quit school at age 12. Groucho overcame his lack of formal education by becoming well-read.
Recent reading literacy studies confirm that young Irish people are also keen readers.
Great credit for Ireland’s love affair with books must go to the authors who make a huge contribution to the Writers in School scheme.
Since Listowel’s Bryan McMahon first visited the Mercy School in Limerick in 1977, the year Groucho died, a million young people in 4,000 schools have reaped the benefits of this unique programme.
These talented authors have inspired young people to read not only for information but also for pleasure.
Social media is all pervasive, but it’s hard to beat a good book. Reading exposes one to adventure, excitement, anticipation, and knowledge. It stirs the imagination, arouses curiosity, and inspires creativity.
Digital media and literature can co-exist but young people should always be encouraged to read a good book and, in the words of author Tom McCaughren, “discover the magic between its covers”.
Book shops throughout the country have an eclectic supply of books to suit all tastes.
There is also an excellent public library service throughout the country where books to suit all tastes can be borrowed.
Membership of the local library makes an ideal stocking filler and introduces the recipient to a lifelong love of reading.
Although Groucho insisted that he would “never join any organisation that was willing to accept him as a member”, he regularly borrowed books from his local library, albeit incognito under his real name, Julius Henry Marx.