Words can transport us to different worlds and times in just a few lines, while getting lost in a story, via a book, e-reader or even the spoken word, we learn about life, ourselves and the world around us.
Books and literature have long been at the heart of a good education, at home and at school.
Learning by any means fuels the engine of a considerate and well-informed society and many of life’s hardest lessons can be learned by reading a rich blend of literature and poetry from writers old and new, from close to home or further afield.
My love of books came from my parents. Books have always been a large part of my life and I enjoy reading different genres to suit the time, occasion or my mood.
When I volunteered to help with flood relief efforts at the Serbian Embassy in London, it was because the harrowing news footage and distressing stories relayed by friends who have been directly affected by the natural disaster in Serbia and Bosnia had moved me to act.
Good friends in the submerged town of Obrenovac have been made homeless and lost all their personal effects overnight, while in Bosnia, others I know have been evacuated to safety or are still holed up in their homes in Doboj.
In these times of 24-hour news coverage we can be numb to the roll call of tragedies and disasters around the world.
All too often these events can seem in such different worlds, that they are removed from our own sphere of reality.
The British Library, home to the nation’s foremost collection of great books and treasured manuscripts, will open its doors to some of the Balkan’s best writers and thinkers for Balkan Day, on Thursday, 13 June.
This event, which is partly funded by the Arts Council, England, will promote the Balkan region from the perspective of its literary and cultural achievements, and widen the knowledge of our shared European heritage.
Such determining behaviour can embed so deeply in our collective mind that it corrals opinion about us and shapes our lasting impressions.
In that way, caricatures, stereotypes and misconceptions can be created – or they can be put straight for evermore.
The overwhelming floods in the Balkans will impact on the lives of so many people in so many ways. Thousands are already homeless, having lost everything to the dirty stinking waters, while the growing death toll ticks up to who knows where.
The scale of this natural disaster is unseen in Europe in recent decades, with the flooding in Serbia the worst in more than a century.