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A Velocity of Being: Letters to A Young Reader
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A Velocity of Being: Letters to A Young Reader

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  806 ratings  ·  187 reviews
In these pages, some of today’s most wonderful culture-makers—writers, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and philosophers—reflect on the joys of reading, how books broaden and deepen human experience, and the ways in which the written word has formed their own character. On the page facing each letter, an illustration by a celebrated illustrator or graphic artist present ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 14th 2018 by Enchanted Lion Books
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 ·  806 ratings  ·  187 reviews

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David Schaafsma
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Above is Maria Popova’s Brainpickings piece about her and Claudia Bedrick’s book about the joys and importance of reading, A Velocity of Being: Letters to Young Readers, a beautiful and huge, 280-page hardcover brick of a book compiled over eight years or more through their asking dozens of leading people in the public sphere—many of them not surprisingly writers—about the way reading had been central in the shaping of their lives (no one said it hadn’t be
While I was only able to read excerpts from this book, what I did read (and the illustrations that complement the text) completely blew me away. We are living in a time in which learning, understanding, and empathy are urgently needed “to keep our very humanity alive.” Books open doors, provide refuge, create connections, and reflect acceptance. Odes to books and reading are myriad and can often become monotonous and hollow, but each excerpt I read in this collection sings with unique truth and ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars
Everyone, at any stage of their reading journey, needs to read this book! I started marking pages with particular letters that I wanted to remember and share with friends, family and students, but too quickly I ran out of post it notes. This is a book I will continue coming back to for affirmations and inspiration. The beautiful and fascinating artwork complements each letter perfectly. This book reminds me that I am very fortunate to be a school librarian.
Marie Antoinette
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh, I wish i had this book when i was a kid.

When we are kids, is easy to believe that dreams come true, is easy to daydream because we don't know better, so rules and expectations do not apply to us. The only thing we need is our imagination and everything is possible.

But at some point we stop being kids.

"A Velocity of Being: Letters to A Young Reader" is a 250 page love letter to the kid we used to be, written and illustrated by people whose character has been shaped by a life of reading.

I ho
Elizabeth A
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-ya, 2019, non-fiction, art
I am a reader, and have been one for as long as I can remember. I made it my mission to "turn" my nieces and nephews into readers, as none of them had parents who read. Mission accomplished.

The reason I share this is so you'll know that I'm unable to be even the slightest bit objective about this book. I love it, and if money was no object would gift one to every home and classroom and library on the planet. It's a collection of letters that adults - some I knew and some I hadn't heard off - al
A wonderful, heartwarming collection of (love) letters & illustrations that presents reading in all its glory. The book itself is made with love and great attention to detail. (Don't miss the final note about 'endpaper'.)
A must for every bookworm at heart.
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful love letter to reading, books, and readers. Perfect for anyone in a reading slump, this will instantly make you want to jump into a new book. The art is gorgeous and the letters and illustrations are from a mix of fascinating people I have and haven’t heard of.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Glorious. Spectacular. As a bookstore mama, I’d even go so far as to say that this book should be considered a publishing event. Though it was a late addition, I’d give it a proud spot in my top 5 of 2018. Also, if you don’t already follow Maria Popova on Brain Pickings, please do. It’s the smartest blog around, if I may.
As soon as I caught a whiff of this collaboration, I knew that I had to have it. The idea of Claudia (Enchanted Lion) Bedrick and Maria (Brainpickings) Popova choosing a selection of inspirational thinkers and illustrators to share letters to future generations of readers just sounded like bliss and, for the most part, it is.

There were many letters that I felt immediately drawn to and there were others in which I took so much from their openness about how their futures were shaped by books. The
Katarina Szulenyiova
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
No matter what I write would do this book a justice.

It is exquisite, from its very own physical presence (the weight, the smell of the pages, the texture of the spine) to the content itself. It has been a long long time since I have been so absorbed by a mere interaction with the book, and the beauty of it immediately transported me back to my childhood memories. Remind me again why all adult books aren't illustrated?

A Velocity of Being brought tears to my eyes, made me laugh out loud and brou
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own, favorites
The most beautiful book:) love looking at its wonderful art when I need something to cheer me up
Lyubina Yordanova
Reading broadens the mind, heightens the senses, and enlivens the spirit. It gives us hope, drive and inspiration. Make it a habit, give it unrestricted access to your imagination, and you will be presented with opportunities and possibilities beyond your wildest dreams…
And when you get the opportunity to travel, take a book with you. Books can be wonderful teachers, saviors during wait times, and companions on the road. Plus, they often hold memories of where you have been, recalling experience
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
A Velocity of Being: Letters To A Young Reader. This book is a collection of one-page letters about the joy of reading, written by authors, scientists, musicians, artists, architects …, each with an accompanying illustration on the adjacent page. (A few are two-page pieces by the illustrator, what you might call graphic letters.) Some of the contributors are well known, such as Roz Chast, Art Spiegelman, Judy Blume, Shaun Tan, Chris Ware, Yo Yo Ma, Anne Lamott, Ursula Leguinn, among others. But ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ahhhhh! This book! Letters to readers young and old from actors, artists, writers, to musicians, CEOs, to historians, and scientists. The artwork is breathtaking. A great gift idea! PS-The proceeds from the sale of this book benefit the NY public library system- how cool is that?
Leah Grantham
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m not sure what I expected when I picked this up from the library; I booked it by accident while trying to find another book by a poet featured in this collection. I had some trepidation when reading the description; I’m not the biggest fan of the uncritical celebration of Book Culture(tm) and wasn’t sure whether or not this would just be bland platitudes that said more about growing up middle class in North America than about reading. Thankfully I was wrong. There are some truly stellar colle ...more
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Don't be put off by the fact that this looks like a textbook! The artwork is astounding and each letter is so unique. This is a beautiful tribute to the power of reading and gave me so many other books and writers to explore.

"Books don't teach us about life, they just call forth what our mind suspects, our heart hopes, and our spirit knows to be true."

"To read is to expose a vulnerability, for at least a brief moment, to surrender to another perspective, to bring it inside yourself and try it on
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely agree with so many of these letters about the reasons we read, but a handful of them actually moved me for tears. For the Reader (capital R) in your life, this book is a gorgeous and achingly sweet rumination, celebration, and meditation on the place of the Book in our human journey. The artwork is stunning, and I think these would also make a wonderful read aloud for bedtime.
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My hearttt. 💜💜💜💜💜💜
Dear Reader,

Books are glorious. Each one an event. One of my favorite experiences growing up was visiting the library in my hometown. I lived on a farm and could only go to the library occasionally; it had to be open when there was a reason for my family being in town.

What I remember most about that library: the wide oak staircase that lead from the entry down into the dusty and damp smelling lower level where the children’s books were kept, its wood bookshelves, the oak darkened by age, loaded
Anne MacDonald
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My sister-in-law bought this book in November for my January birthday, and it just arrived this week. It was worth the wait. Friday night it was pouring rain, and I curled up in my cozy chair with a glass of wine to read it cover to cover.

There are common themes in the letters: how could you ask all these book lovers to write about reading and not have quite a few of them mention reading under the covers with a flashlight? Or talk about how books saved their lives? Or kept them from being lonely
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-eng, owned
This was beautiful. The book combines stunningly gorgeous and diverse art with heart-melting letters from public figures to (young) readers about why to read.

What have I learned? That we read to escape, when our lives are too hard to take. To widen our horizons, when the environment doesn't offer enough of diversity. To find friends, when others don't seem to get us. To explore our own hearts, when unsure of how we feel, what we want and what to do. And perhaps, when we're unsure of who we are.

I flipped through the whole thing, but found that this doesn't lend itself to a regular "reading." It would be great as a book to own, and dip into as needed.

The letters I read were all either encouraging, touching, empathetic, or funny. They all touched on some positive aspect of books and reading. It would be fun to read one out loud every day to a class. I liked the diversity of people who wrote letters: a lot of them I had no idea who they were, and these people were all mixed up with more w
Judy  Monchuk
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This magical book is described as "letters to a young reader" but really it's for everyone: from book lovers to those who consider reading not worth their time or effort. Of any age.
It me cry, it made me laugh, it made me gasp and it made me think. A Velocity of Being: Letters to A Young Reader is a treasure chest filled with letters written by culture makers (writers, creators, philosophers, a Holocaust survivor) with each beautifully illustrated by artists and animators. All involved have had
Melodie Grabner
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love Maria Popova and have followed her blog for 10 years. She is exciting, inspirational, creative and curates the best reading blog on the internet. This is her book and it is letters and essays to kids about what reading and libraries meant to and still mean to them. Each letter is creatively illustrated by renowned children's book and other illustrators. Each letter is exquisite, you will marvel at the individuals writing the letter. I bought this book for my daughter and granddaughter but ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book to savor, to read in tiny bites, to admire all the wonderful illustrations one by one. These letters are poignant, moving, funny (thank you, Daniel Handler) inspiring short pieces on why books and reading are central to a lot of people's lives. Beautifully produced by Maria Popova and Claire Zoe Bedrick of Enchanted Lion books, this is a keeper.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh my heart. This book is a balm, a medicine, a reunion of some of your most beloved friends who assembled together to remind you that you’re here because of the books you loved, the books that shaped you, the books that saved your life. Each letter is heartfelt, personal, emotional, and some are even raw and painful. But they’re all so healing and beautiful, and coupled with incredible artwork, these letters are magical.
I will never find the appropriate words to explain what books mean to me.
Paul Manytravels
A Velocity of Being is a wonderful collection of letters written by writers, performers, celebrities and others about their own experience of reading, about their own love of reading and about how important reading has been in their lives. The letters are addressed to young people and offer plenty of encouragement to read, read broadly and read more.
Each letter faces a wonderful picture that illustrates the points made in the letter.
Both the artwork and the letters are worthwhile on their own, b
Janet Hutchinson
What a beautiful book. Not only is beautiful to hold and to read,but it has such rich illustrations. Letters from people I love (Ann Patchett, Anne Lamont, Ursula LeGuin, Yo-Yo Ma, Neil Gaiman, Shaun Tan), but people I have never heard of, but whose contributions have shaped, or are shaping, our world. And to a person, they speak to the value of books and literature, and, in some cases, libraries. I couldn't read this all in one gulp - I had to savour it over a few days, rushing at the end, as i ...more
Kris Muir
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I rarely give 5 stars to any book, but I am strongly giving them to this beautiful collection of letters to young readers called “A Velocity of Being” by Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick.

Although created as letters for younger readers, this book can inspire readers of any ages. An 8-year project with over 120 letters and custom art for each letter, this book lays bare “an encyclopedia of personhood, an atlas of possibility for the land of being mapped through the land of literature.”

All proceeds
Jenifer Jacobs
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Did you adore books as a kid? I did. Had a book in every place I might find myself - the bedroom, living room, dining room, car, bathroom, even on the stairs. As an adult, it’s much the same. Now it’s easier though because my phone holds audiobooks and kindle books (although I love real books), and it also connects me to the library at all times (to order more books). Basically, A Velocity of Beinfvalidated my addiction to reading and my reason for being. So yeah, I loved it.
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Maria Popova is a reader and a writer, and writes about what she reads on Brain Pickings (, which is included in the Library of Congress permanent digital archive of culturally valuable materials. She hosts The Universe in Verse—an annual charitable celebration of science through poetry—at the interdisciplinary cultural center Pioneer Works in Brooklyn.

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