The Happy Reader, Issue 9 (Summer 2017)

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Published June 1st 2017 by Penguin Classics
Editor-in-chief: Seb Emina
Format: Paperback
Genre: Bookish Magazine
Pages: 62
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Opening line:

“‘Keep going,’ says the workout app. ‘As you relax into the movement, you’ll feel your hips open up.'”

Goodreads synopsis:

For avid readers and the uninitiated alike, this is a chance to reengage with classic literature and to stay inspired and entertained.

The concept of the magazine is simple: the first half is a long-form interview with a notable book fanatic and the second half explores one classic work of literature from an array of surprising and invigorating angles.

In The Happy Reader 9, our summer classic is Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island

My review

This issue is the first look we get at the new style of ‘The Happy Reader’, after their announcement that the magazine is no longer going to be quarterly, but biannual. The most noticeable difference is the cover style, with the chosen photo taking up the entirety of the front page, right the way to the edges. With the trademark Penguin-style lines still present either side, this cover is new in the most subtle way, but with great effect.

The description has also altered from being ‘Bookish Quarterly’ to ‘Bookish Magazine’ which are two words I would use to describe my ideal magazine, so thank goodness this one exists.

The cover photo is different too, the typical ‘happy reader’ shot would be a black and white close up of their face, whereas this is a relaxed, full colour image of Lily Cole who looks at you as though you’ve just walked in the room and she happens to glace your way. This is a good start to the new THR.

Inside is not much different from other issues in style, and this is also a positive because the overall layout, order, and composition is perfect everytime. The intro to this issue is all about self-improvement and how ‘there is no motivational app for reading’. I could do with one right now, as I’m not so much in a reading slump as just behind on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. The only motivation I get from that is the little bar on Goodreads that gets closer to being completed.

For anyone looking for reading motivation, I’d say a Goodreads challenge is the place to start. Set yourself a reading goal (i.e. how many books you wish to read that year) and off you go! As long as the book is logged on Goodreads, it’ll count. I’ve gone off on a tangent here, but if you’re reading this you’re probably bookish so, who’s complaining?

The snippets section is as brilliant as ever. With little bits about long lost books being returned, perfume inspired by classic novels, and a science fiction exhibition.

When I turned the page for the start of the Lily Cole interview, a wave of excitement rushed over me. There’s a photo of Lily and in the background is the wonderfully beautiful St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. This area of London is very dear to me for a number of reasons: When I stay in London, we have a hotel near that hotel, it’s next to the British Library, AND my novella is set in and around the area. So these images on pages 9 and 10 take me back to London and to some great memories. Almost like I have a distant home there.

In any case, it put me in just the right mood for the interview. Before reading it, all I knew about Lily was that she’s a model and actress. It turns out she’s a lot more bookish than I originally thought! This is one of the great things about THR, they often take someone well known, and they draw the literature out of them. I’ve loved every THR interview I’ve read so far, and this one was no different.

The conversational feel is there, the whole style of the interview reads like you’re there as an observer to their conversation…and in a way we are. They talk about The Philanthropist, theatre, acting, audiobooks, and an incredible interesting digital book called The Universe Explodes.

Mostly what I got from the interview is surprise at how many strings are on Lily’s bow. It’s an inspiring read to say the least, and she’s incredible imaginative and driven in all aspects of the work she does. Her reading list is also full of books worth seeking out, and her choices are described by THR as being ‘packed with idealism and pep’.

I took a very long break between reading the first and second half of this issue. That’s because this time I actually had a copy of the book of the month, Treasure Island and I wanted to read it before delving into the second half.

However, even as I write this, I’ve failed to read the book. It hasn’t connected with me, and I have found it difficult to follow the plot because my attention wavers each time I sit down to read it. I wanted a pirate adventure, but I’ve found myself being bored in the way that a student reading a set text might feel (a text they have to read but don’t want to).

I will have to push myself to finish it, but I’m happy to say that you don’t necessarily need to have read the book to enjoy the articles inspired by it. In fact, I enjoyed them a lot better.

Seb Emina introduces the book, and writes about it in a way that makes me wish that I could appreciate it for what it is, and to feel the adventure contained in it’s pages. The following articles are wonderful companions to the book. They explore the book’s pub ‘The Admiral Benbow’ by exploring a real-life pub by that name in Cornwall. There’s another article about singalongs, and a glossary of pirate words and what they mean. Then we’ve got flags and parrots and an actual treasure map.

I won’t attempt to find the treasure, because if my Dalloway Crossword was anything to go by, I’ll be searching for a very long time indeed.

The next book of the month is: We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. And because I’m a bit late writing this review, Issue 10 is already out there in the world! So if you think The Happy Reader is for you, go out there and find it. You won’t need a treasure map, just a really good bookshop.

Link to the magazine on Goodreads: The Happy Reader, Issue 9

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