A great idea
This book is such a great idea. An eight-year adventure to collect more than a hundred love letters destined for the young readers of today and tomorrow and written by renowned thinkers (Richard Branson), adventurers (Jane Goodall), writers (Chris Ware, Jacqueline Woodson), artists (Yo-Yo Ma), entrepreneurs (Ev Williams), and so many others (Steven Pinker, Shonda Rhimes, …). Each letter is illustrated by a famous artist including all my favorite children’s book illustrators (Mo Willems, Oliver Jeffers, Sophie Blackall, Isabelle Arsenault, Shaun Tan, …).
As an avid reader and a father trying to do his best to raise a reader, this is the kind of precious book that I cannot resist devouring. Even if I’m not the main audience of this book, I enjoyed it. I know that books are wonderful but listening to other passionate readers feels special. When you love books, you are never truly alone, and this book lets you imagine how many we really are.
But this book could have been even better.
First, I would have replaced the short biographies, written in the same “boring” style you can find easily everywhere. This book is so special. Biographies deserved to be special too. I imagine trading the illustrations for a one-page collage biography with pictures of authors at special moments (during their childhood, when achieving long-term goals, or just funny pictures of them) accompanied with short questions (What book would you bring to a deserted island?, Your favorite fictional character?, etc.). It could have enriched the special interaction between an author and a reader.
Second, I would have privileged an even more diverse list of contributors. What about presidents like Barack Obama? Or people that discovered the joy of reading later in their life? Or more contributors living outside the US to reflect border doesn’t exist with books.
Third, I would have preferred a better title. I discovered this book through my recommendations. I would have probably ignored it otherwise. A title such as Living with Books would have been more unequivocal.
I’m still glad this book exists. I invite you to rediscover the magic of books in shaping who we are or who our little kids could become.