I wasn’t familiar with the work of Debbie Tung until I read and enjoyed Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story. Next week she has a followup coming out. Book Love is what it sounds like, a collection of cartoons for those who love reading.
The single-page strips aren’t particularly punchline-driven — the appeal comes from the familiarity. Anyone whose favorite activity is enjoying a good book or anyone who always has trouble figuring out what book to bring with them will recognize themselves in her choices. A few strips, about the frustration of having to wait for the next book in a series, particularly hit home for me.
I’m impressed with how many different ways she found to express similar ideas. Some pages are illustrations of phrases, such as “When I read, I’m in a world of my own”, and those have elaborate, full backgrounds, different from the sparser four panels. The one captioned, “The library is my second home”, with all the shelves of various books, is one I got lost in for a while. The strips often focus on the feel of becoming part of a good book, or wanting to share a wonderful read with others.
Tung’s art isn’t heavily styled. It’s simple, making her ponytailed figure comforting, like a friend, with just enough detail to establish the situation and a good grip on posing for realism. These comics aren’t cartoons so much as observations, and the pleasure comes from having felt the same way or done the same thing, as when a reader doesn’t want a good book to come to the end, or feeling ambivalent about a movie adaptation.
It can get a little self-referential, reading a book about loving books. And I’m going to add to that by including this sample page and then tag Tung in this review.
Overall, this is a reassuring, enjoyable read, particularly for bibliophiles. (I thought I was the only one who used part of the sofa for book stacks!) It’s a shame this wasn’t put out a month ago, as it would make a perfect holiday gift for so many people. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)