Review – The Rights of the Reader

Cover of The Rights of the Reader by Daniel PennacThe Rights of the Reader, Daniel Pennac

Obviously, in many ways this book isn’t applicable to me because I’m not a parent, educator, or even involved much with children at all. I sometimes see them in the library when I’m on duty, but otherwise they have one world and I have mine, and never the twain meet (thankfully, since I’m dreadful with children). It also doesn’t apply to child-me: I read voraciously, exhaustively, incessantly, and my parents really did have to wonder not how to get me to read, but how to stop me. So it’s difficult for me to understand the kids he’s talking about who had to be cautiously reintroduced to books. I’ve always been passionate about my books!

Still, Pennac’s passion for books is obvious and endearing, and he could certainly turn a phrase; if the original French was half as elegant as the English translation, it must’ve been good. I think the enthusiasm and tips here might well help a parent or teacher reinvolve kids with reading. And quite apart from that, he makes some good points for readers of any age: suggesting rights that any reader should have to read what they want, where they want, as much as they want, and talking about the fact that reading is something you make time for, rather than have time for. “By making time to read, like making time for love, we expand our time for living.” Yes.

So not aimed at me, but nonetheless an interesting and lively read, helped by Quentin Blake’s illustrations. And the rules are pertinent no matter who you are…:

1. The right not to read
2. The right to skip
3. The right not to finish a book
4. The right to re-read
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to “Bovary-ism,” a textually transmitted disease (the right to mistake a book for real life)
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to dip in
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to be silent


Rating: 5/5


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