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Monday, November 11, 2019

Review: The Innocent Reader: Reflections on Reading and Writing

Title: The Innocent Reader: Reflections on Reading and Writing
Author: Debra Adelaide
Publisher: 24th September 2019 by Pan Macmillan Australia
Pages: 272 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: nonfiction, essays, biography, memoir
My Rating: 4 crowns

Books are impractical companions and housemates: they are heavy when you are travelling, and in the home take up a lot of space, are hard to keep clean, and harbour insects. It is not a matter of the physical book, it is the deep emotional connection that stretches back to my early years. Living without them is unimaginable.
These collected essays share a joyous and plaintive glimpse into the reading and writing life of novelist, editor and teacher of creative writing Debra Adelaide.
Every book I have read becomes part of me, and discarding any is like tearing out a page from my own life.
With immediate wit and intimacy, Adelaide explores what shapes us as readers, how books inform, console and broaden our senses of self, and the constant conversation of authors and readers with the rest of their libraries. Drawing from her experiences in the publishing industry, the academic world, her own life and the literary and critical communities, she paints a vibrant portrait of a life lived in and by books, perfect for any student, bibliophile, editor, or simply: reader.
My Thoughts

‘Every book I have read becomes part of me, and discarding any is like tearing out a page from my own life.’

Debra Adelaide’s book, ‘The Innocent Reader’ is a collection of essays about reading rather than a straight out story of a literary life. The range of essays are divided into three sections - reading, writing and then the two combined - in which she describes the importance of books in shaping her (and inadvertently, other avid readers) life. 

‘Only in recent years have I come to understand that reading fiction is not a matter of escaping from the so-called real world: fiction for me is the real world, and when I read, what I feel, think and experience is as real as anything else in my life.’

Overall, these essays share the joy of reading and writing and from the perspective of all Debra has achieved as a reader, writer, editor and teacher of creative writing. There is much to both relate to and appreciate in her reflections and musings as Debra explores what shapes us as readers; how books achieve so much through informing, entertaining and ultimately broadening our sense of self. With essays drawn from her own life experiences and the broader literary community, Debra paints a picture for all bibliophiles to appreciate. 

‘During this time, reading made sense, not because any of the books explained anything or revealed information or elucidated mysteries, but in and of itself. The process was all. I became the words, I became the book, and so escaped myself.’

Not being a writer, I found the first and third sections more enjoyable as Debra clearly portrays the life of an avid bookworm and our obsession with the fictional world and how it allows both escapism and immersion into alternate realities. If you are a writer, or desire to write, I am sure the second section will provide interesting thoughts on the writing process. 

‘I invariably open a new book with no other expectation than that I will be transported to a wonderful new world. I often feel that a book I particularly admire or love is written for me alone, that the author has somehow peered straight into my heart and articulated my deepest thoughts, given voice to my most private desires, and that I am as dear to the author as she or he is to me.’

All up I found this book to be a soothing balm to a readers soul, indeed a vindication for all the many hours we have lost ourselves to the art of reading. Throughout many parts of the readings, Debra valiantly captures what it is to be in love with books and reading. 

‘Retiring at night with a favourite book is the most romantic and thrilling date. Throughout the day, while in a meeting, or when waiting at the bus stop, or queuing for coffee at lunchtime, you remember that at the end of the day, when all is done that has to be done, there awaiting is your bed and your book.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

1 comment:

Dora William said...

I am an avid reader and recently turned writer too. I recently published my first book and getting reviews was very difficult. I tried netgalley and goodreads, but what a time drain ! usabookreviewers.com worked for me to get reviews, the reviews took 3 weeks to come, and I am gearing up for the Christmas season ! :)