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In any 24 hours there might be sleeping, eating, kids, parents, friends, lovers, work, school, travel, deadlines, emails, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter, the news, the TV, Playstation, music, movies, sport, responsibilities, passions, desires, dreams. Why should you stop what you're doing and read a book? But people have always needed stories. We need literature - novels, poetry - because we need to make sense of our lives, test our depths, understand our joys, and discover what humans are capable of. Great books can provide companionship when we are lonely or peacefulness in the midst of the commuter rush. Reading provides a unique kind of pleasure and no-one should live without it. The ten essays in this book tell us about the experience of reading, why access to books should never be taken forgranted, how reading transforms our brains, and how literature can save lives. In any 24 hours there are so many demands on your time and attention - make books one of them.
Mark Haddon is the author of the bestselling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which won 17 literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award. Michael Rosen is the author of the bestselling children's book We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Zadie Smith is the author of the bestselling White Teeth, The Autograph Man, and On Beauty, which was short listed for the Man Booker Prize, and won the Orange Prize for Fiction. She is a reviewer for Harper's, is a professor at New York University, and lives part of the time in New York City. Carmen Callil is the founder of Virago Press, has chaired the judging panel of the Booker Prize, and was a judge for the Man Booker International Prize in 2011. Jeanette Winterson is the Whitbread Prize–winning author of 10 novels, including Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Written on the Body. Tim Parks has won several awards and been short listed for the Man Booker Prize. His works include An Italian Education, Italian Neighbors, and Teach Us to Sit Still. Blake Morrison is the author of And When Did You Last See Your Father? Dr. Maryann Wolf is the author of Proust and the Squid. Nicholas Carr is the author of The Big Switch and the bestselling The Shallows, a 2011 Pulitzer Prize nominee. Jane Davis is the director and founder of the UK national charity The Reader Organisation.