The past couple of years have cemented the value of books in our modern society.
Sales of both print and e-books have grown hugely as we've been offered an abundance of quality writing on all sorts of subjects. Books have enabled us to escape from our current circumstances either as a diversion from the dire news stories, or as stimulation from the monotony of a lockdown.
This week I've come across a couple of conversations exploring what we choose to read and what it delivers to us.
In the Guardian recently there was an editorial about the uncanny nack of novelists to 'predict' the future. There are the often quoted HG Wells and George Orwell, of course, but in more recent times there have been a number of novelists who delivered plots centred on a pandemic just before it became a reality.
These tales arise, Margaret Atwood claims, because writers ask the right questions and investigate 'what would happen if...'
"This is one of the great things fiction can do," the article continues, "pay a particular kind of attention. It is a kind of eavesdropping, and looking under the surface of things...Though novelists are not seers, we would do well not to underestimate their grasp on what is to come."
Meanwhile on BBC Radio 4 the wonderful author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce (who I was delighted to interview last year) delivered a brilliant programme about the value of children's books. Called Wonderlands, he argues that comfort reading is essential reading - these stories create our 'interior happy places', they build resilience, all of which lasts far beyond our childhood.