“Reading has always been a great source of comfort, knowledge, pleasure and joy. It is the most central aspect of my identity: the truest thing I could say about myself is ‘I am a reader’.”
As soon as I read the above quotation, I knew this was a book for me, could be a book about me!
The book began as a real trip down memory lane for me from reading about familiar children’s books to graduating to the ‘grown-ups’ section of the library. I remember being allowed to upgrade my library tickets earlier than I should have because I’d either read or outgrown everything in the children’s section.
There are chapters on diverse topics such as first appearances by fictional detectives, books written in diary form, pubs which feature in books, favourite series and unsurprisingly, books set in bookshops. What was surprising to me was that I’d only read one of the latter (and didn’t actually like it) so I’ll need to check out the others.
However, this isn’t just a list of the author’s favourite reads and recommendations. It’s also about finding comfort in book characters going through similar experiences to her at difficult times in her life. “When the bite of real life is too brutal, I retreat into made-up worlds and tread well-worn paths. I… look for solace in the familiar.”
I particularly liked this part: “Don’t allow anything to dent your reading pleasure. Don’t let anyone tell you that what you like isn’t proper, that what brings comfort and ease to your soul isn’t good enough.” This is something I strongly agree with. I hate when people talk about having ‘guilty pleasures’ when it comes to reading. If you enjoy reading something then in my opinion there’s nothing to feel guilty about. Read what you want, what makes you feel happy, what brings you comfort, what brings you joy!
In Dear Reader we find a life shaped by books from hungrily reading them, to working in bookshops, to talking about books, to writing about them, to working in the publishing industry and finally to actually writing books.
Dear Reader, I loved it!
“Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved books. She still does. She always will.”
Dear Reader is published by Picador Books and available now in all formats. I bought and reviewed my own copy. You will, of course, be able to buy or order this book from any good book retailer.
From the back of the book
Growing up, Cathy Rentzenbrink was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, it was books that kept her afloat. Eventually they lit the way to a new path, first as a bookseller and then as a writer. No matter what the future holds, reading will always help.
A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life, packed with recommendations from one reader to another.
About the Author
Cathy Rentzenbrink was born in Cornwall, grew up in Yorkshire and now lives in London, where she works as a writer and journalist. She is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling memoir The Last Act of Love, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.