A little more than two years ago, Ray Bradbury flew away to Mars for good (carelessly, he forgot to buy a return ticket) and now that he is gone, we miss a book lover of a rare kind.
The passion Bradbury had for books, libraries, and more generally reading, was contagious. The wet blankets will say that he did not like computers and e-books, but this is not an issue: when you love reading, the medium does not matter. There are no e-writers or “paper writers”, there are only stories; and in the end, we should forget a little about this industrial war and agree on the fact that what we love the most are books and reading.
On August 22nd, Ray Bradbury would have turned 94 years old. More than being a book lover (one has to be to write Fahrenheit 451), Ray was always an eternal child and a downright optimist. Even though he passed away, we cannot help but want to celebrate his birthday. August 22nd is a beautiful date to do something: our minds are still filled with memories from the summer, but already getting ready to “go back to school”.
There is a Book and Copyright day on April 23rd, but it is rather a day to celebrate the book industry and the copyright – another way to do some marketing and business, as a matter of fact. It is not a real celebration of the act of reading and those who make this communion possible: the authors and their readers.
So, why not dedicate this beautiful day of August 22nd to reading? Declaring this day as an international day of anything is out of the question. Let us mock these commercial abuses and take this opportunity to celebrate Ray’s Day in a way that Ray would have liked, like a giant birthday party in the garden, with balloons and blueberry pie.
The idea would be to spend the day celebrating reading, whatever the medium is. No paper book vs e-book war; what matters are the stories, their authors and the readers. Everyone is invited, as long as they respect the other guests. This day cannot be used to do business and commercial things: August 22nd has to be the day when we offer and share reading, freely and for free. The authors can post an exclusive short story on their websites, or offer one of their books only during that day, or post a live reading on YouTube. The craziest ideas are allowed, and even welcomed. Publishers can also offer one of their books for free all day long, ask their authors to participate, offer goodies or imagine creative ways to promote the act of reading without any commercial agenda. Bookstores and libraries can organize readings or meetings. And readers will have several ways to participate: sharing their favorite book, telling more about themselves, posting pictures, sharing their experience via blogs and social networks.
We will identify our all our participations via a single hashtag on Twitter and Facebook (#RaysDay), and this site will help you discover initiatives you might otherwise miss. No hierarchy: anyone can take part in any way they want, and celebrate reading the way they like. It might be an opportunity for everyone to test free licenses, in a definite will to share, just for one day, to dip a toe into it. What is essential is that it remains free and shareable. That is how we imagine things. Of course, anyone can bring new ideas to this in the way they deem the most interesting; all good wills are welcome and more than appreciated.
Anyone can contribute as he can and as he wants. There is no limit. All that matters is telling, expressing and sharing the reason why we love reading so much.
So, what are your plans for August 22nd?