Better Than Life: A Reader’s Bill of Rights

for Claire and Karen

booksWhen personal libraries of writers get too large sometimes a random conversation or an even more random spine check reveals an old favorite. Based on a twitter feed this morning I went on the hunt for a little book I knew I had somewhere that came out in 1994 by French writer Daniel Pennac called Better Than Life. The slim book is a gem packed full of charming prose championing the joys of reading. Its charms are many, but one of the most interesting parts of the book is Pennac’s “Reader’s Bill of Rights.” They are:

  1. The right not to read
  2. The right to skip pages
  3. The right to not finish
  4. The right to reread
  5. The right to read anything
  6. The right to escapism
  7. The right to read anywhere
  8. The right to browse
  9. The right to read out loud
  10. The right to not defend your tastes.

Part memoir or allegory following the story of a reading teacher, the book has chapters on the necessity and gift of reading. A pure joy to read, cover to cover, year after year I state invoking right #4.
Seek out this wonderful book if you love to read. It will be your cherished companion for years to come.

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