About the project
The digital Europe Readr platform brings current social issues to readers around the world. It encourages reflection on the world we want to live in, presenting us with an opportunity to consider the European Union as a community in all its diversity and interconnectedness and as a community with a common future. Numerous accompanying events around the world – from Paris to Helsinki, from Washington to Beijing – encourage the creation of public spaces dedicated to reading and the exchange of ideas on the world of the future. They are organised by the Network of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) in cooperation with a number of local partners around the world. Europe Readr puts into practice the new paradigm of European collaboration in culture, based on dialogue and promoting culture as a driving force of sustainable development and social inclusion.
2021: The Future of Living
From 1 July to 31 December 2021, a curated set of European literature entitled “The Future of Living” is available for reading free of charge. There is one literary work from each EU Member State in the original language and the English translation. Various literary genres – novels, short stories, poetry, comics, and essays – present a wide variety of perspectives and address a global audience. Special attention is paid to the youngest readers with a selection of some of Europe’s most beautiful picture books – silent or taciturn – understandable beyond language barriers. Special material is available to parents and teachers with advice on how to guide children through reading and how to awaken their interest in the environment.
The Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council is the initiator and coordinator of the project, co-designed with EU Member States and supported by EU institutions. The inspiration for the project was the successful Slovenian library project titled Library under the Treetops, widely regarded as one of the most effective projects promoting reading culture. The Slovenian Presidency will use Europe Readr to contribute to the debate on the future of Europe and to put an emphasis on the importance of culture as a driving force of international integration and sustainable development. Expediting the green and digital transition is also one of the priorities of the Presidency – a transition that will ensure a healthy environment and the resilience of our societies. We believe that change is most effective when it is the product of social dialogue and embraced by the citizens themselves, therefore the project is dedicated to them.
The word of the curator
I firmly believe that literature is a tool encouraging thinking. And that literature as such has to do with the future. Whoever is brought up as a reader is brought up as a thinking human being. Whoever is brought up with stories and into stories grows up to be a member of a community. When we read, even if only for ourselves and in solitude, reading is a social activity – an encounter with the other, with the different, with the world and society, with history and with ourselves. And as we read literature, literature reads us, rearranging the connections in our minds, persistently and imperceptibly adding new information, memories, ideas and opinions, offering alternatives and transposing us at will, forcing us to contemplate time and space from perspectives other than our own. This is literature’s most ingenious trick: it is able to launch into internal monologue, hijack our voice and lend it to another. When we read, we might seem utterly alone and focused inward, yet we undoubtedly communicate with others.
Another, just as important, trick that literature plays on us is this: I have yet to meet a reader who would want to keep a good book for themselves. Good books are shared and amply discussed, good books obsess us, are being translated, circulate in other languages and cultures, move from one historical moment to another, shed old and acquire new meanings and significance. Good books, although usually physical objects made of paper and cardboard, without sound or light effects and unable to move of their own volition (even when produced in digital form, they are a window of peace amid other windows’ tempests), hate being alone, lonely, put aside. Good books move from hand to hand, are gifted, borrowed, inherited.
I also believe that a thinking human being, a member of a community, is a dreamer. A dreamer is not someone stubbornly defending their one and only vision of good, trying to change the world to fit its mould. A dreamer is someone wishing to travel through time and space, away from anti-utopia and towards utopia, from past to future, with the future being the place they constantly visit. A dreamer is well aware that the future will take along with it the problems of the past we were unable or unwilling to solve and bring new problems we cannot even envision today. But for a dreamer these problems are not unsolvable; if they can see them and whip the future with satire today, that does not mean they are pessimistic. A dreamer is endowed with something an idealist usually lacks – hope. Nobody can foretell with any certitude the future of our living, but a reader, a thinking person, a community person, a dreamer is infused with courage and hope. Not implying that the future will be free of problems, but believing that we will tackle our problems better, with greater ease and together. That is why a reader does not see the future only as a utopian and sunny wonderland but perceives its shadows as well: the evil of individuals and of the system, control, social stratification, injustice ... and last but not least, death. But even the death of an individual is something that only a community can transcend.
The Europe Readr project aims to envisage and paint the future of our living. The books selected from every EU Member State put forth a brave vision and hope or satire and critique stemming from the present and the problems pestering us now as individuals and as a community. These books present alternatives, a multiverse of future possibilities, a warning, a wake-up call or a different view of our reality, or else call for silence and reflection. For the most part, they are not fairy tales trying to paint an ideal future but works holding up a mirror to what we are, what we could be, what we will be or might become. The project as a whole and most of the books selected try to convey the message that what they project are images of our common future actively co-shaped by all of us today – both with our actions and by turning a blind eye. But even if we do our best to look away from the problems of the present, we will be forced to face them sooner or later. The problems of the 21st-century global world are no longer a local matter but can be resolved only together and for all. Not because an individual is not important (any longer), but for the very reason that an individual counts only when all of them count together. Just as we always read with others, we are true individuals only when with others.
This is why Europe Readr not only offers readers a selection of literary works from EU Member States contemplating and painting the future of existence, but also provides an opportunity for them to read Europe as a European community. Last but not least, the European Union was established on the idea of community and primarily on the idea of an increasingly common future. Europe Readr is a project for European readers interested in the future of the society they live in, interested in other European readers, in the reading community. This is also the image it offers the world beyond the EU: through the books selected, readers worldwide can read the European Union in all its diversity, its individual differences, particularities and similarities – as a community with a common future, which beyond doubt is also the common future of the world. Regardless of where and how you read any of the Europe Readr books, you are never alone.
See you tomorrow.