Dear Young Reader …

Imagine you’re writing to a reader in the future! To a new soul, yet to unravel the magic of books! What would you say to them? Would you share stories from your own life? Or inspire them with passionate prose or perhaps offer up playful poetic musings?

Just such a request was sent out to writers, scientists, artists, and other cultural trendsetters across the globe by Maria Popova. One hundred and twenty-one letters were received including ones from Mary Oliver, Jane Goodall, Neil Gaiman, from composers, philosophers to a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor.

Over eight years, together with her publisher friend Claudia Bedrick, they collated the letters, matching each of them with an illustrator, artist or graphic designer … bringing each letter individually and vividly to life!

I read about the creation ‘A Velocity of Being’ last year and ever since couldn’t wait to hold this treasure of a book in my hands. Although released in January, they had underestimated the demand and my book finally arrived last week.

With deep reverence I opened the box, with surgical skill (or so I liked to think) I cut gently through the tightly wrapped cellophane. I’m sure I heard a drum-roll as I opened the pages and started to read … my heart singing in harmony with the emotions and thoughts of the letters.

Here a just a few snippets:

“No matter where life takes you, you’re never alone with a book, which becomes a tutor, a wit, a mind-sharpener, a soul-mate, a performer, a sage, a verbal bouquet for a loved one.” Diana Ackerman

“Yesterday I swallowed a book. Opened it, read it voraciously, then gulped it down in a single sitting. … A book, and the universe within, is the touchstone for today, yesterday, and — wow, I can’t wait to find out what I read tomorrow.” Anthony Horowitz

“A writer can fit a whole world inside a book. … . Somewhere, is a book written just for you. It will fit your mind like a glove fits your hand. And it’s waiting. Go and look for it.” Neil Gaiman

94 thoughts on “Dear Young Reader …

  1. Pingback: 2019 GOODREADS CHALLENGE – Annika Perry's Writing Blog

    1. It is an incredible book and one I’m dipping into on a regular basis and always find something new! I am indeed humbled by the wonderful and thoughtful comments – inpsiring in themselves. Now, I’m intrigued. What is the Philip Pulmman book to which you are referring? Sounds like something that would interest me. I’m currently reading a beautiful and heartbreaking short book which I’ll review next week. It’s unique.

      1. It’s a collection of essays from talks on writing. I have it on audible but can always dip into it as it gives me inspiration to keep writing. Daemon Voices.
        I have read his Northern Lights Trilogy and some other of his young adult books. I am trying to make my novel more towards that market.

        1. Thank you so much for mentioning Daemon Voices. I haven’t heard about it but looks great and one I’ll buy! How exciting that your book is looking towards this market – very popular and also wonderfully creative. Good luck with your book!

    1. Thank you so much, Malosri! 😀 So glad you enjoyed the post! I enjoyed checking out your latest book review – you have a great style which makes the book immediate and compelling.

    1. Natalie, it’s been a delight to share this precious book here … and you’re right it’s an insipiration for all readers and writers! I am certainly finding it just so … now on my second read of it. 😀 Thank you so much and wishing you likewise a wonderful day. xx

        1. Janice, it is an inspired concept and wonderful that so many replies with these imaginative and creative letters! I’m loving my time reading them all and appreciating the individual art pieces!

    1. Julie, I’m feeling guilty adding to your towering TBR list! 😀 Perhaps I should warn you I’ve got a few great reads that I’ll be posting about later … all from author talks I attended as part of the local book festival! I fear your pile will topple! 😀

      ‘A velocity of Being’ is a very unique book – one that perhaps deserves to be on its own little list!

      Wishing you a fabulous Spring weekend! xx

  2. I love this, Annika! I have done all of that from the time I was a small child. It saddens me to hear that children are reading fewer books these days. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post!

    1. Jan, I’m sure the concern of how few books children are reading was one of the major reasons for this book … to learn about the magic, the gift, of reading. Over the past few years I’ve found it’s not only young people reading less but also many adults … for them too there are too many distractions! Books almost seem like an alien concept! So glad you loved this, Jan … it’s a book I’m always going to treasure! Hugs xx

    1. Mary Ann, it is wonderfully unique and it’s been a joy to share here! The comments have been lovely and I’m glad you enjoyed reading them as well. I would love to know what you and your family think of the book (if anything like my house, this will quickly become a family favourite!) xx

      1. Annika – Getting to read this will take some time. With the two of us and each with several books already, it becomes difficult. I cannot read more than one book at a time but know my husband can and does. Let’s see where this goes. It sounds like it might become a classic and favorite. Happy reading and writing to you.

    1. Amanda, books are real gems in that respect, being our friend for all time – giving guidance, friendship, enjoyment, adventure and even hearthache! This is the ultimate book for all book lovers – allowing us to see what others feel about books and reading … incredibly uplifting! I’m savouring my time with this one!😀

      1. I love that you can travel anywhere and see through another’s eyes, in a book. I feel a little bereft when I finish a good book as I tend to get lost in them when reading.

  3. It sounds wonderful Annika, I love that Neil Gaiman quote, it’s so fabulous that there are so many books in the world that we can feel that at least one of them is just ‘ours’. I’ll be sure to put this on my to read list.

    1. Andrea, I love Neil Gaiman’s quote as well … although I have one slight quibble with it – there are quite a few books which seems just ‘ours’ – and that is such a blessing! 😀 When you have a chance to read this I would love to know your thoughts!

    1. Jacqui, the whole book is full of such inspiring messages/quotes and I am gradually building up a portfolio of them! 😀The love of reading is an amazing gift to pass onto one’s children – and one for which they will be forever thankful.

    1. Clare, that thought strikes me every time I pick up the book! The love, care and dedication is evident on every page … no wonder it took eight years! A real labour of love and the proceeds are all going to the New York Libraries! It’s been a delight to share here! Wishing you a lovely day … heavenly to finally see the sun again! 😀🌺

    1. Bette, every letter says something different, yet the same … reiterating jus the wonder and magic of books you mention! My quote file is growing with every reading! Thank you so much for sharing, my friend! ❤️🌺

  4. Annika, thank you so much for telling about this book. I didn’t know anything about it till I read your post, and by the endearing snippets you included, I know I’ll love it. I plan to order 3 copies, one for each of my sons’ families as well as one to keep. This is affection to hold in one’s hand.

    I give books as gifts all the time – hundreds over the years to my grands (many of which were first their fathers’) and always to newborn babies. They don’t need cute outfits they’ll outgrow, they need books to last them a lifetime. What would I say to young readers? I talk to the little ones in my family all the time, reading to them when they were little, sharing stories with the older ones. My older granddaughter just said to me, “Bubbie, you always know exactly what books I love to read.” Makes me smile to remember.

    And to the ones I don’t know so well? “There’s a secret in this pages of this book but you have to read it to find it.”

    1. Wow! 😀 Sharon, what a wonderful comment … thank you so much! ❤️

      I’m sure your sons and their families will love the book … it’s already a hit with us all here and a friend popped by yesterday and became hooked by the book! You will have to let me know your thoughts on it when you’ve read your copy. I’m two thirds of the way through … and this is me trying to savour it! Then I’ll start from the beginning again! 😀

      I agree, books make some of the best presents! ‘This is affection to hold in one’s hand.’ How amazing that you’ve gifted so many over the years, such special and thoughtful gifts … that will stay with one for life, continually teaching, giving strength, wisdom and laughter! Your granddaughter’s comment is precious and shows just how much the books and your thought of them have touched her!

      Shari, I love your last sentence and this could form the basis of your own letter to Future Readers … it fits in perfectly with what I’m reading in the book.

      As you write: “There’s a secret in this pages of this book but you have to read it to find it.”

      Love & hugs ❤️ Xx

    1. Barbara, I think this is the ultimate coffee table book for book lovers … I love taking a break to read a few letters, absorbing them and definitely will love to reread it many times! It’s also a hit with the family, as they stopped for while to read some!

    1. Georgina, when I heard of the concept for the book I was already hooked, when I received the book, I was awed. It’s beautiful, mesmerising illustrations, inspiring letters all bound together old-style! Enjoy when you get hold of a copy! 😀

    1. Rebecca, I’m sure this is one you’ll love as well. I just had to share a little bit about the book! 😀 Btw. I’ve just started The Four Sisters which was your recommendation, I believe. Already hooked, wonderfully written … thank you so much! A book or author I knew nothing about!

      1. I’m delighted that you are enjoying the Four Sisters. There are so many stories forgotten in the folds of history. Blogging contains the story of our generation – one that spans the globe and continues to inspire. I am so very very glad that we connected. Hugs

    1. Carol, I’m so glad you enjoyed these brief snippets … just imagine a whole book packed full of such wisdom and depth! 😀

      This is definitely a book for all ages as you perceived although initially aimed for younger readers. Many of the letters are addressed to eg. Simply, Dear Reader, or, Dear Book Lover, Dear You, Dear Friend, Dear Young Explorer and even one to Dear Spacetime Traveller! All readers as are all of these and so much more!

    1. A brilliant inspired idea for a book … funnily enough it only came about when the two met … they had been working from the same building block for years but only discovered each other when Maria Popova found some wonderful children’s books she enjoyed and looked up the publisher! 😀 Not far away at all!

  5. This seems to be a rare treasure Annika! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book along with those gems embedded in it. Happy reading dear friend and I look forward to another post when you finish it. 🙂

    1. Balroop, it is a wondefully unique book and one I will definitely treasure … I couldn’t help but share a bit about it here and my excitement at opening it for the first time. Reading is such a precious and vital part of our lives – this is a great explanation / reminder why – in a most artisitc, beautiful and fun way!

    1. Brigid, it is so wonderfully unusual and a lights a beacon about the positive nature of books for generations ahead! 😀 A treasure in the house and a book that will stay with me!

  6. What a wonderful idea for a book, Annika, and I can see why you awaited it with eagerness and opened it with reverence. Books are magical experiences and I felt that in each of the quotes. My favorite was the one from Gaiman. Thanks so much for sharing. ❤ Happy Reading!

    1. Diana, it is an inspired idea for a book, for book-lovers present and in the future, trying to convey the joy and magic of books within a few pages. It has taken years of dedication and the kind support from so many people – and to top it all, the full profit is going to the New York Libraries! Gaiman always knows what to say, in just a few words. That moment of finding the perfect book for oneself is sheer magic, uplifting enlightenment when the whole world brightens with clarity! 😀❤️

    1. Jill, please meet Minky! 😀 My monkey teddy I received for my 18th birthday and who has traveled far with me! As you can tell, he loves reading and is very wise indeed! It’s a delight to share about ‘The Velocity of Being’ – an uplifting and inspirational book! Hope you’re having a lovely Sunday too. The sun is shining, so it’s amazing to be out and about! hugs xx❤️

    1. Exactly, Darlene! 😀 It’s on the coffee table downstairs, but is actually one of those books that everyone picks up and reads a bit … I’m half-way through and loving it so much!

    1. She sums it perfectly, doesn’t she? 😀 And I was taken with the idea of a mind-sharpener – it’s just so! After a few days of reading when very ill or such I feel my brain silting up!

  7. Khaya Ronkainen

    Oh my, Annika! I can imagine your excitement. And just from reading the snippets, I’m sold. I want this book, like yesterday!! 😀 Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Kamal, the pictures are so cute, clever and fun – I’m torn with each new turn of the page whether to give the letter or the illustration my first attention! 😀 It is an inspired project and a book that will probably become even more necessary to remind people what books are all about! Speaking the truth is defintely a hugely important factor!

  8. Annika, you have again created a joyful and deep post. With so much knowledge and joy.
    I feel so in tune with all you say and with the quotes as I always refers to my books as my
    Your second paragraph amazes me, the great number of highly intellectual and creative people who responded to Maria Popova. Wonderful and inspiring.

    As to your first question I do not yet know what I would write to a reader in the future. It should contain some universal truths I feel. Would be fun to really feel ones way here …
    Bet you already know.
    I also want to say how I love your photos/ images. They speak so eloquently along with your words.


    1. Bless you, Miriam for your wonderful comment … I feel you’ve traversed the universe and back again! 😀 You’ve already started your letter and it is so eloquent and full of truths … I would love to see your final version. So many refer to books as their friends, just as you mentioned here! Perhaps this should be a trend/challenge on WP! I did have lots of ideas for my own type of letter but they’ve become superseded the more I read the book – reckon I need some distance for now before attempting one!

      I too am in awe of all the replies Maria received from those she wrote to and the letters are so inspiring…linked with the beautiful illustrations this is a unique and precious book. I wanted to share it somehow without telling too much or being overlong -I’m so happy you enjoyed the post so much!

      Many thanks again and always a joy to chat about books! 😀❤️

    1. Dorothea, I must admit I bought this through Amazon – I would be interested if it is in bookshops. You’ll have to let me know if/where from you get hold of a copy. It is a gem!

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