Reading, Schwalbe writes, “is one of the few things you do alone that makes you feel less alone.” This publishing executive and author of the best-selling memoir The End of Your Life Book Club (2012) also states, “I’ve always believed that everything you need to know you can find in a book.” Crime fiction, he suggests, can teach us a lot about trust. Orwell’s 1984prompts Schwalbe to observe that books offer shelter from the tyranny of digital bombardment and “endless connectivity,” coaxing us to “slow down, savor, and ponder.” This is the theme of The Importance of Living(1937) by Lin Yutang, a long-forgotten philosophical work that serves as the touchstone for Schwalbe’s tribute to the endless bounty of reading. Each chapter about a beloved book—Stuart Little, David Copperfield, Song of Solomon, Bird by Bird—is a finely crafted, generously candid, and affecting personal essay, none more moving than the homage to his boarding-school librarian, who subtly steered him to James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, having “realized that I was gay at just about the same time I did.” In this warmly engaging, enlightening, and stirring memoir-in-books and literary celebration, Schwalbe reminds us that reading “isn’t just a strike against narrowness, mind control, and domination; it’s one of the world’s greatest joys.”HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: So popular was Schwalbe’s previous ode to reading, his new book will be accorded a substantial print run and strong promotion.
— Donna Seaman
“I am a child of books,” a little girl declares. “I come from a world of stories.” And so begins this enchanting tale of a little girl sailing away on a sea made, literally, of words—as are many other things in her bookcentric world. Words are fashioned into the shapes of mountains, a monster, a dark cave, and more as the girl is joined by a boy on an adventure that dramatically demonstrates the freedom of imagination. Jeffers and Winston’s first collaboration is a celebration of the child’s world, illustrated in sumptuous double-page spreads featuring explosions of images borrowed from unforgettable sources: there’s Little Red Riding Hood, there’s the Cheshire Cat, there’s Mr. Toad in his shiny motorcar, and there are the children themselves, standing upon a spinning globe. At first glance, this beautiful book looks simple, but that is deceptive. Every one of its elements—the haunting prose poem executed in hand-lettered words; the pictures done in watercolor, pencil, and digital collage; and the objects built from words borrowed from classic stories—all work together toward a richly harmonious whole. An irresistible invitation to read.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Jeffers is pushing himself artistically by pairing with fine-artist Winston, and his many fans ought to take notice.— Michael Cart