Top Marx on value of a good book

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Letters -

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

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