Book Review: The Innocent Reader by Debra Adelaide

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Title: The Innocent Reader
Author: Debra Adelaide
RRP: $29.99AUD (correct at time of writing review)
Publication Date: 24th September 2019

Synopsis: "'Every book I have read becomes part of me, and discarding any is like tearing out a page from my own life.' Debra Adelaide

This is a collection for anyone who has ever recognised their own reading habits in Calvino's 'sections in a bookstore' ('Books you haven't read, books you needn't read, books you must read but there are others you must read first...'). For those who have always loved bookplates, bookmarks and bindings or dressed as a favourite character (unconsciously or not). For anyone who longed for the epistolary friendship between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel in 84 Charing Cross Road. Anyone who laughed aloud at the insider's view of readers and bookstores in Shaun Bythell's The Diary of a Bookseller. And for any student poring over Strunk and White's Elements of Style (and despairing of ever writing anything)."

My thoughts: I am one of those readers who particularly enjoys a book about reading. And I am also one of those writers that enjoys a book about writing. In The Innocent Reader, we have a bit of a both, and I devoured it in two sittings.

Debra Adelaide's writing is fairly matter-of-fact, whilst also managing to whisk you away to whatever setting she describes. I found her style to be really comforting, and each essay seemed to build on the last, making it a really lovely collection to read through from start to finish, rather than selectively reading different essays as whim struck. I will admit to not being a fan of two of the essays - namely, 'Reading is Sport' and 'Reading to the Dog'. The former because it felt kind of redundant and dull, and gave off 'I'm not like other girls' kind of vibes, which bothered me. The latter I enjoyed parts of, but there was a bit too much cat hatred and attempts to sway the reader towards the side of dog love for me to properly enjoy it - I have had experiences of people trying to pigeonhole me as either a cat or a dog lover before, and I respond very poorly to it, as I did here. I love both, I appreciate both, and that's where I stand.

Other than those two, this collection is superbly put together, and made for very comforting and inspiring reading - Debra Adelaide reminds you of books that were formative to your reading, as well as sharing stories from her own writing and reading history that ultimately left me feeling hopeful and at least somewhat capable of reading and writing more complex things. I would definitely recommend this collection to those of you who enjoy reading about reading.

{I received a review copy of this book from Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you!!}

A favourite line from the book: 'Other people's books offer me far more than my own ever could. I am more affectionate towards, and protective of, the act of reading, for it is what sustained me as a child.'

You would like this book if: you enjoy essays about reading and writing; you are a fan of Debra Adelaide's previous work.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Any tea would work in this case, as long as there is, in fact, tea.

Rating:  8/10

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