Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books – Cathy Rentzenbrink

*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author, Picador – Pan Macmillan and NetGalleyThe decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: Dear Reader is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life, packed with recommendations from one reader to another.

For as long as she can remember, Cathy Rentzenbrink has lost and found herself in stories. Growing up she was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, books 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.

I can never resist a book about books/reading, so snapped this one up as soon as I saw it!

Unlike some others in this genre – Ex Libris, Bookworm – Cathy Rentzenbrink goes into less detail about the books themselves, choosing instead to provide short potted summaries or observations within categorised lists, such as ‘books about reading’, or ‘books about loss’. I really enjoyed the way the books were grouped together and found it very useful in making my own inevitable must-read list as I went along, but I have to admit that I was left longing for more about each book while the author had already skipped on to the next one.

What Rentzenbrink brings that other reading-rapture authors did not, is a fascinating insight into the backstage world of book: the writing, the selling, the editing and the marketing. These are aspects that we don’t get to hear about as much, and as someone who longed to break into publishing from a young age but was put off by repeated assurances that you ‘need to know people’ to do so, I was heartened to follow Cathy’s path from an avid young reader to the successful all-round-literary professional we see today.

There is also a substantial proportion of the book dedicated to the author’s brother, Matty, and her overwhelming grief at his loss. I found these portions of the story incredibly touching, as they are told with a simple, raw honesty and complete openness about the process of dealing with such a tragedy (or, at times, not dealing with it). This intimate tone continues throughout the whole book, giving the sense that you are hearing the thoughts of a close friend on reading, writing and life in general.

Most of all, though, this book is a love song dedicated to books and, as a fervent booklover myself, I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in someone else’s reads for a change and ‘meeting’ a kindred spirit in librophilia. There is nothing better than sharing that #booklove!

Every book holds a memory. When you hold a book in your hand, you access not only the contents of that book but the fragments of the previous selves that you where when you read it.

– Cathy Rentzenbrink, Dear Reader

Find more from Cathy Rentzenbrink at her website here, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Dear Reader is available on Amazon right now!


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