I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf
I adored I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider. If you liked You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack or Book Love, you’ll love this. The cartoons are all about being a reader or a writer or both.
Overall, the message is how books can and will change your life. I alternated among thinking “how wise”, “how inspiring”, and “how surprising”. Starting with this opening spread.
I thought it was a manifesto for the book — which it is — but it’s also the table of contents! The various statements represent the topic sections that follow.
Some of the strips are catalogs, such as “My Bookshelf“, which includes “the book that saved my life” and “the book I’m desperately trying to write”, or “Perfect Reading Spots“, which is also a poem. Another, “Poetic Justice“, uses the images to tell a story as the terms appear. The creativity is impressive.
Some of the strips reminded me of Richard Scarry’s packed scenes, such as “The Story Coaster“, showing how Snider translates literary terminology and structure into visuals. (Beware the “tunnel of badly-written love”.) Others made me laugh out loud, as when Snider characterizes types of fiction, and “young adult fiction” is tagged as “All references to ‘puberty’ have been replaced with ‘lycanthropy’.”
Only a word lover would come up with this satire of “Proofreader’s Marks” or the “Adventures of the Ampersand” — who kept reinventing himself and ends up a superhero.
The reason I’m writing this review now, instead of waiting for weeks feeling guilty the entire time, is the “advice to writers” strip that says
If something ignites, stay up writing
By the fire your words are lighting.
If by morning, you end up charred —
Don’t give up. Writing’s hard.
A later strip, more simply, tells us “the cure for writer’s block is writing.”
As the cherry on top, the cover is die-cut, so the person peering through the shelf is on another layer. You can see that with the shadow here. What a lovely detail!