When it comes to escapism, these days, we have a lot of options, from scrolling through Instagram to listening to a podcast to streaming some good tv. When was the last time you chose to read a book for pleasure? For some of you, that was yesterday, but for those who need to be reacquainted with the humble book, this article is written for you. 

If we are being honest, most of us take reading for granted, but not everyone is lucky enough even to learn how to read. According to Global Citizen, 773 million people worldwide lack basic literacy skills. A figure not to be pushed aside, the UN lists literacy as a critical component in its global goals to end extreme poverty by 2030, saying,

“The skill is an influential tool in helping people to escape poverty and build healthy and sustainable societies.”

On this World Book Day, a charity that aims to change lives through a love of books and shared reading, we thought we’d reignite our passion for reading by sharing some of our most influential books. After all, if a book is worth reading, it is worth sharing

In the spirit of celebrating literacy and a love for reading, our co-founders Idris and Sabrina Elba, alongside the rest of the S’able Labs team, share their favourite books and why they love them.

Idris’ Pick

By Yuval Noah Harari

Why I love it: “I love this book; it provides amazing insight into the human experience. It highlights how important it is to know where we’ve been as a society to understand where we are going.”

Sab’s Pick

by Delia Owens

Why I love it: “I like that this book looks at the effects of isolation and wanting to belong; it deals with loneliness and abandonment, which I fear above all. Maybe cause I’ve always felt kind of like an outsider. But I also like Delia’s writing. I’m caught up in her world. It’s gripping, unpredictable and tugs at your heart!”

Emma’s Pick

by Peter Mayle

Why I love it: “This book transports its reader to life in rural France through the eyes of a foreigner in the 1980s. The food, the people and the rural traditions are all so delicious – it makes me want to move to Provence immediately!”

Jess’s Pick

by Eckhart Tolle

Why I love it: “This is a great read – it always brings me back to the present and reminds me to enjoy the very simplified pleasures of life. I always come back to this book; it helps me with stress and provides clarity. The Power of Now teaches essential life lessons like how to get out of your head, get out of your own way, and how to deal with emotional pain to be your best self.”

Oli’s Pick

by David Deida

Why I love it: “The book is a helpful guide for men in finding their true purpose in life. I recommend it to anyone looking to do a little self-exploration – it’s a must-read in my opinion!”

Gillian’s Pick

by Zadie Smith

Why I love it: “This book holds a special place in my heart. It tells a very familiar story of what it’s like to move to a new country and start a new life. As the child of immigrants myself, I connect with how much can get lost in translation culturally from one generation to the next. Above all Zadie’s writing is clever, witty and really lovely to read”

What can I do to support global literacy?

While it’s all well and good to acknowledge that global illiteracy is a big problem, I bet you are wondering, “what can I do about it?. Organisations like the anti-poverty action platform, Global Citizen, suggest starting by making a difference in your own community. Something as simple as donating supplies, books or resources to in-need schools and libraries can make real a difference. If donating funds is not a viable option for you, consider donating your time; “Reach out to charities, organisations, or schools near you and see if you could tutor or mentor a child. With online video calls, there are plenty of ways to stay safe while also helping children pursue their education.” says Global Citizen.

Are you looking for some more World Book Day inspiration? Click the link below to find out what else you can do.

“In addition to following activists like Al-Mellehan and Yousafzai, you can follow organisations like the United Nations, Global Citizen partner Education Cannot Wait, and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, as they all advocate for global education on social media.”