You'll never catch Cevdet Urel without a book in his hands – at least that's how the proprietor of a "book cafe" in western Turkey's Pamukkale describes the 80-year-old bibliophile.
As the eldest member of the cafe book club, which is run by the local municipality, Urel is currently second in the race to become "the person that has read the most books in a year." Last year, he read 87 books and was awarded by municipal officials for his exemplary behavior.
Urel's love of reading began while he was working. Coming to work with at least two newspapers folded under his arm every day, Urel would also read at every opportunity he got, turning page after page in his spare time. Once he retired for good, his love for books only got stronger, pushing him to search for new places to find new material to read.
Urel now frequents the cafe every day, choosing from a selection of 3,700 books to either read there and then take home to enjoy in his own company, later to return it so that the other 2,400 members of the cafe book club can also enjoy it.
Speaking to an Anadolu Agency reporter, Urel said the books he reads help him travel to places he could never imagine, with different worlds hidden between every line.
Reiterating that it was never too late to start reading, Urel said: "I'd never go a day without reading the newspaper while I was working. Sometimes I would go to the bookstore. We need all the help we can get from books."
Underscoring that books had taught him countless important lessons in life, he said: "You can't just read a book for the sake of it. You have to read it to enjoy it and learn from it. If they just stand there like accessories or decorations they teach you nothing. You have to read them."
Urel said his advice to young people was to start reading as soon as possible and get into the habit from a very young age.
Urel said people shouldn't get caught up in figures about who can read the most books, adding: "Rather than how many books you read, what matters is what you actually get from them. When we read we learn all sorts of things about topics we don't know. Many times you are left wondering, 'Why didn't I know this before?'"
"I wish a bright future for all of us, full of books. I will continue reading until the day I die. I am, in a way, addicted to them, but don't get me wrong; this kind of addiction can benefit anyone," he said, adding that he loves seeing young people, and especially students, with their noses in books.
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