Wednesday 30 December 2020

Dear Reader : The Comfort & Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink @CatRentzenbrink @picadorbooks @CamillaElworthy #DearReader

For as long as she can remember, Cathy Rentzenbrink has lost and found herself in stories. Growing up she was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, books kept her afloat. Eventually they lit the way to a new path, first as a bookseller and then as a writer. No matter what the future holds, reading will always help. 

Dear Reader : The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink was published in hardback by Picador on 17 September 2020. The paperback edition is published in August 2021. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I love books about books. I love books about people who love books, and I love books written by people who I've spent time with and chatted to. Dear Reader ticks all of those boxes for me. It's so beautifully written, honest and down to earth. It is a book written by someone for whom reading is as natural as breathing. Someone who can remember the key points in her life by the books that she read at the time. Someone who has learnt so much from books, and who, in turn has taught so many others through her career with books. 

The reader learns so much about the author's life. From the evenings spent serving customers in her parents pub in North Lincolnshire. The devastating and tragic accident that took the life of her beloved brother. How she began in bookselling, and how she sought and found solace between the pages of the books that she sold, and how she passed on that love to her customers. 

We learn about how she found love, about her own child and about how she felt like an imposter in the quite frightening and intimidating book world. Some of these stories made me nod my head in agreement and ironically, it was the author herself who made me more comfortable in the book world. Around six years ago she Tweeted that she would choose one person as her 'plus one' for the launch party of The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, and she chose me! I was petrified as I arrived at the doors of The Ivy in London and entered a room full of faces that were so familiar to me; Jojo Moyes, Victoria Hislop, Rebecca Chance and so many more. Cathy found me, gave me a huge grin and whilst I was completely star struck all night, I left feeling that maybe, just maybe, I could be a part of all of that. I have never forgotten her kindness. 

Dear Reader is Cathy's love letter to reading, to books and to authors. I loved every single page. I loved re-discovering books that I too had read and enjoyed, I loved finding books that I'd not read, and that I really now must read. This book is a joy; it is a real gift for a bibliophile. It doesn't matter what you read, or how many books you read, the author does not judge. She does not discriminate, she's certainly no book snob. She's a book lover.

It is tender and down to earth and feels almost like a bible for readers. I will cherish my copy and it's a book that I will buy for others. Highly recommended, such a special book. 

Cathy Rentzenbrink has lived in Cornwall, Yorkshire and London and recently returned to Cornwall,
where she lives with her family and works as a writer and journalist. 

She is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling memoir The Last Act of Love, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize and selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club.

Twitter @CatRentzenbrink

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