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In any 24 hours there might be sleeping, eating, kids, parents, friends, lovers, work, school, travel, deadlines, emails, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter, the news, the TV, Playstation, music, movies, sport, responsibilities, passions, desires, dreams.

Why should you stop what you're doing and read a book?

Reading is not an innate human ability. Many people can't read. Many people would rather read a newspaper, a magazine, a blog, a cereal packet, than a novel.

But people have always needed stories. We need literature - novels, poetry - because we need to make sense of our lives, test our depths, understand our joys, and discover what humans are capable of. Great books can provide companionship when we are lonely or peacefulness in the midst of the commuter rush. Reading provides a unique kind of pleasure and no-one should live without it.

The ten essays in this book tell us about the experience of reading, why access to books should never be taken forgranted, how reading transforms our brains, and how literature can save lives. In any 24 hours there are so many demands on your time and attention - books should be one of them.

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