United By Pop received a free copy of I’d Rather be Reading in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.
Title: I’d Rather be Reading: a Library of Art for Book Lovers
Authors: Guinevere de la Mere
Overall rating: 5/5
Great for: Fans of Shelagh Wallace, Jen Campbell, and George Orwell’s essays
Themes: Non-fiction, essays, quotes, poetry, art, culture, hobby
Review: This book is sold for “anyone who’d rather be reading than doing just about anything else.” Which is unequivocally me!
Edited by Guinevere de la Mare, this gorgeous book may be small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in content. This contains a selection of beautiful and varied paintings, illustrations, photography, typography, essays, quotations and poems all concerned with the love of books and reading. The content, although focused on this one topic, is varied enough in style to please every peruser of its pages. Some of the featured art comes from renowned names such as Jane Mount, Lisa Congdon, Julia Rothman, and Sophie Blackall. Their imagery is interwoven around the writings of essayist Maura Kelly, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, and award-winning author and independent bookstore owner Ann Patchett.
The first essay, entitled ‘I’d Rather be Reading: the Autobiography of a bookworm’ and penned by Guinevere de la Mare, discusses life lived as a self-professed bibliophile. De la Mare begins her shared history with a hilarious anecdote from her kindergarten years where she steadfastly refused to learn to read. This is followed only a few short years later, by a discussion of some of her favourite childhood reads. From ‘Sweet Valley High‘ to ‘Rebecca‘, this encapsulates a love for a broad range of literature. It is a lively and upbeat piece, but it also has its poignant moments when discussing how her passion was inspired by her ancestors and has been passed along to her ‘Harry Potter‘ loving son. I, too, share a similar early love for books due to coming from a family of readers, so I found much of myself in her extraordinary yet straightforward writing.
Maura Kelly’s ‘A Slow Books Manifesto’ is the discussion of the popular movements that encourage such things as clean eating rather than fast food and old-fashioned, creative activities rather than “empty-calorie entertainment”. Kelly proposes her own movement: that of literature replacing the constant use of the smart phone. We are consistently confronted with a cacophony of chaos wherever we travel, due to the onslaught of readily available information bombarding us from every passing screen and also our own pockets. Instead, it is suggested we take time away from this crazed, modern existence to nourish our soul. And what better way to do so than indulging in some extra reading time. During the morning work commute or whilst sweating it out on the running machine; we can all slot in a small portion of reading time into our everyday lives, and our mental well-being and overall happiness will thrive from it. I wholeheartedly agree!
‘Cheating’ by Ann Patchett is a discussion of her 25 favourite books followed by a deeper insight into subjects such as her current reads and her childhood favourites. As she, herself, professes, her favourites alter with her moods and recent reads might not have yet made the list, despite her utter enjoyment of them, but may if she rewrote this in a few years to come. Regardless, I found a new tbr for myself within this short essay. Whilst, not a conclusive list, there are many wonderful and varied works of great literature in here guaranteed to provide the reader with hours of entertainment and deep contemplation.
Gretchen Rubin’s ’13 Tips for Getting More Reading Done’ does precisely that. This short list features some sage advice that differs somewhat from the usual. For example, tip one begins by instructing the reader to quit reading! Rubin soundly advises that life is short and books are long; if you’re not enjoying something be unafraid to move on. The list ends with more sound reading advice from some infamous authors and if they are encouraging me to read more, then who am I to disagree?
One of my favourite images is a double-page spread featuring the spines of some of Shakespeare’s most infamous plays in some of their most glorious editions. I spied the Penguin cloth bound edition of ‘The Sonnets and a Lover’s Complaint‘, which I have been coveting for some time, and it also featured an edition of my favourite play, ‘Romeo and Juliet‘ that comes complete with line-cut illustrations.
Of the poems included, Emily Dickinson’s is one of my favourites. It ends with the glorious line “How frugal is the chariot/ That bears the human soul.” It is so wonderfully evocative, despite its short length and perfectly encapsulates both the joy of reading and the human experience.
The aesthetically pleasing pages of ‘I’d Rather be Reading’ really express the creators’ love of the written word and the passion in the production of this book is clearly evident. No small detail has been spared in making this evocative read as richly textured in imagery as it is in print. The shortness of this book means it can be read in one-sitting, but my love for all it contains remains eternal.