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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader, edited by Maria Popova and Claudia Zoe Bedrick. Enchanted Lion, Publishers Group Canada. 2018. $38.99 all ages

"Dear Readers,

Here's why I read:
I got to travel the rainy dark streets
of London,
The sultry bayous, the exploding
I banished demons
I felt unexpected things for pigs
And spiders
I stopped being lonely
I met myself everywhere ... "

This quote features the initial lines of a poem to readers by Eve Ensler. She is a playwright, performer, activist, and author. Her long poem cites the many things she was able to do because she was a reader. It is a loving ode to the power of the word. Facing her poem is an illustration by Zoey Abbott, whose other work graces the pages of two books I love - Twindergarten and Finn's Feather. 

I could go and on. When it arrived in the mail yesterday, I immediately sat right down and pored over it page by page. At more than 250 pages, it is sure to be a book that I will read over the course of weeks, even months. That is the real appeal for me. I can take my time to savor the words and sentiments, and appreciate the variety in the artwork that accompanies each and every entry. The design remains the same throughout its entirety. The verso is the letter written for young readers, with a short descriptive paragraph about the writer at the bottom of the page and a banner for the artist at the top. The recto is resplendent with the images created to accompany that particular letter. Finally, a list of the artists with their respective descriptive paragraph finishes the book.

Maria Popova, owner of the Brain Pickings website, and Claudia Zoe Bedrick, publisher, editorial and art director at Enchanted Lion books, have spent took eight years at work on this project so dear to their hearts. It is a labor of love for readers and those who love books. All 121 writers are diverse - each one reflecting on the joys of the reading experience. Couple their words with the diverse images created by a plethora of talented artists and you hold something very special in your hands. Take time to enjoy its many riches.

"100% of the proceeds will be donated to the New York public library system in gratitude for their noble work in stewarding literature and democratizing access to the written record of human experience."

What a celebration! Bravo to everyone involved. I will savor every letter, as I have admired every piece of stunning artwork.

"Dear Reader,

I have not much time to write to you, and not much ink in my typewriter, but I hope I can convey a very important message before my time is up and my ink is gone.
Somewhere in the world, on some shelf or in some cupboard, in a library or a bookshop or a bedroom or a ditch, there is one book with a very important message for a specific person.
In most cases, the person has no idea which book it is, or where this book may be found, which is why most readers in the world go from book to book, from shelf to shelf, searching for the perfect read. In many cases it can take a lifetime ... "

- Daniel Handler

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