Top Marx on value of a good book
Sir — Groucho Marx said: “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 was already a keen reader when poverty forced him to quit school at 12. He 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 Bryan MacMahon 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. 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 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. What more appropriate Christmas present can be given to a child than an introduction to the joy of reading with the gift of a book?
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. Billy Ryle, Tralee, Co Kerry