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I'd Rather Be Reading: A Library of Art for Book Lovers

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For anyone who'd rather be reading than doing just about anything else, this book is the ultimate must-have. In this visual ode to all things bookish, readers will get lost in page after page of beautiful contemporary art, photography, and illustrations depicting the pleasures of books. Artwork from the likes of Jane Mount, Lisa Congdon, Julia Rothman, and Sophie Blackall is interwoven with text from essayist Maura Kelly, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, and award-winning author and independent bookstore owner Ann Patchett. Rounded out with poems, quotations, and aphorisms celebrating the joys of reading, this lovingly curated compendium is a love letter to all things literary, and the perfect gift for bookworms everywhere.

96 pages, Hardcover

First published August 15, 2017

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About the author

Guinevere de la Mare

2 books73 followers
Guinevere de la Mare is the co-founder of Silent Book Club, a global community of readers with local chapters in 250 cities around the world. She's the author of I'd Rather Be Reading: A Library of Art for Book Lovers (Chronicle Books, 2017) .

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5 stars
326 (19%)
4 stars
528 (31%)
3 stars
628 (37%)
2 stars
174 (10%)
1 star
37 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 389 reviews
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,013 reviews1,405 followers
August 30, 2017
My full review can be found on United by Pop.

Edited by Guinevere de la Mare, this gorgeous book may be small but what it lacks in size it makes up for in content. This contains a selection of beautiful and varied paintings, illustrations, photography, typography, essays, quotations, and poems all concerned with the love of books and reading. The content, although focused on this one topic, is varied enough in style to please every peruser of its pages. Some of the featured art comes from renowned names such as Jane Mount, Lisa Congdon, Julia Rothman, and Sophie Blackall. Their imagery is interwoven around the writings of essayist Maura Kelly, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, and award-winning author and independent bookstore owner Ann Patchett.

The aesthetically pleasing pages really express the creators’ love of the written word and the passion in the production of this book is clearly evident. No small detail has been spared in making this evocative read as richly textured in imagery as it is in print. The shortness of this book means it can be read in one-sitting, but my love for all it contains remains eternal.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
694 reviews860 followers
May 11, 2018
Beautifully compiled with bookish essays, quotes, poems, art, typography and photography, this is quite a little gem for bibliophiles who love collecting whimsical books.

The introductory essay is akin to a short autobiography of the author, a bookworm whom many of us will relate to. The final paragraph of this nostalgic piece of writing is a must-share.

The love of reading that has passed down through generations of my family is the greatest gift that I could imagine and the greatest legacy I can leave my child. I am so lucky to have been raised as a reader. The essayist Rebecca Solnit once wrote, "A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another." When we read together, our hearts beat as one. At least that's what my grandmothers taught me.

I did wish that this was a bigger or longer book and has more written material though. I would have bought it then.
Profile Image for Cheryl .
9,051 reviews391 followers
December 9, 2020
Tiny book for suckers. Like one of those little old Hallmark gift books, but for NYC snobs.

For example, the essay on Slow Reading advocates classics that require work to be appreciated to ppl who have not even made room in their day for 30 minutes of reading because they're busy on Twitter. Magazine articles, like the essay itself which is from the magazine The Atlantic, "don't count." Nor does non-fiction, or genre fiction, or much else, according to the essayist. Huh. Way to insult your target audience... good job motivating us that way....

I don't care at all for the pictures, either; they mostly mean nothing to me. and many are t-shirt mottoes in pretty lettering. I do admit the shelf of books about Piet Mondrian is cute, because they have red, white, blue, and yellow spines and are arranged to resemble one of his works. There's also a photo of a raised garden bed, built to look like an open book, with a lawn instead of flowers... but I tried to follow up and could not find a picture of it online... in any case, it's a photo of art, not art given unto this book.

Not recommended.

Now I'm wondering. Have I ever liked a book about books? Of course I would want to, but have I ever not been disappointed? Hmm....
Profile Image for Linda.
42 reviews
September 18, 2017
I'd rather be reading is filled with pictures about books and the love of books, as well as a few essays on the love of reading. I love bookish images and photos, but was unfortunately disappointed in the ones chosen for this book. There are more inspirational pictures on instagram and pinterest.
Profile Image for Amanda.
593 reviews431 followers
October 8, 2017
This is a very cute little book. It’s like looking through a bookish tumblr page. I thought it was interesting there was an essay calling for a slow reading movement and another with tips for how to read more.
Profile Image for Kayla.
28 reviews4 followers
September 17, 2017
Hardly a book, all of this could be seen on someone's tumblr page.
6,104 reviews66 followers
December 23, 2018
Cute book with text, pictures and illustrations all in favor of the love and joy of reading. I was expecting it too be a bit longer (bought it online so didn't see a slim it was) and I would have enjoy more content, but still a good book that book lovers will enjoy and recognize themselves in it!
Profile Image for Beth Bonini.
1,280 reviews275 followers
February 12, 2018
This delightful book is the perfect gift for book-lovers - particularly of the Bookstagram kind. It’s a visual feast of book quotations and book slogans and book illustrations and book photos. If you agree with L.M Montgomery that you are ‘simply a book drunkard’, you will undoubtedly enjoy this book - and it may also inspire those who have not yet made reading a part of their daily routine. Essays from Guinevere de la Mare, Maura Kelly, Ann Patchett and Gretchen Rubin all pay homage to the idea that a reading habit enriches one’s life. It was just ‘preaching to the choir’ as far as I was concerned, but still a much appreciated gift from my book friends Kathy and Shelbi Starnes.
Profile Image for Jenna | Bookmark Your Thoughts.
176 reviews98 followers
April 25, 2018
"At first, the other kids in the class - those who hadn't been brave enough to stand up to Big Literacy - were envious of the freedom that allowed us to doodle at our desks during reading time. But after a few days, something began to shift. We began to get bored. And all the other kids started to be able to do something we couldn't. They were looking at letters but seeing words. Suddenly they had a superpower, and we didn't. My days of academic protest were over."

Spoiler Free Review


I'd Rather Be Reading: A Library of Art for Book Lovers by Guinevere de la Mare is a charming and insightful nonfiction piece on the love of reading and bookish artwork. Filled with inspirational messages on the importance of reading and unique images demonstration the essence of reading, Mare's novel touches the hearts of both readers and non-readers.


This dainty and elegant novella is roughly half images and half words. The layout and pattern throughout the book is an essay, followed by a variety of book images, to another essay, and so on. Mare begins by describing her own experiences with reading and literature, providing a more intimate relationship with the author. The remaining essays follow a similar suit, giving this aura of personal connection simply through the words written on the pages, though each author provides a different insight into the realm of literature. From preventing reading slums to highlighting the importance of reading, each contributor to the novel brings a new element and lesson for readers to examine and decide what they wish to do with this new profound knowledge.

For those of you who are feeling discouraged and disheartened with book reading, you MUST give this book a chance. This year has been utterly awful with my own reading goals...it's rather bothersome. However, I found almost all the essays provided some wonderful words of wisdom and comfort to those who are feeling neglectful towards their books. One thing I didn't appreciate, however, was the thoughts of one contributor. I found the thoughts rather pushy and intrusive, as though those who don't read are on this lower pedestal in life...which is ridiculous. I feel sorry that those individuals are missing out, but there's no need to become condescending. Though I  may have read to into this, that's how I felt.


The illustrations are an obvious focal point of this novella -- the subtitle is a library of art for book lovers after all. Mare did a wonderful job displaying a variety of book photos, allowing for all readers to feel a connection to at least one photo, if not more. From quotes on book to pictures of bookshops, the variations are endless.

The illustrations were by far my favourite element of this novella; not only did the images give me this feeling of nostalgia and happiness, but I found to feel intimately connected with my recent desires to focus more on my bookstagram. If you simply want some book imagery in your library collection or need some ideas for your own photos, this might be for you.


Mare and the three other contributors write simple yet educated, focusing largely on the emotion behind the words rather than providing essays in a more academic manner. Clean and concise, the fluidity of the language makes it easy to finish without realizing it. For this type of nonfiction novella, the personal connection works wondrously; the more academic approach would feel distant and create this disconnect with the readers.


Mare's I'd Rather Be Reading: A Library of Art for Book Lovers is a lovely and lighthearted read, providing readers comfort through the simplicity of words and images. Less than one hundred pages long, this quaint little novella bestows a grandiose amount of entertainment and is easily finished in one sitting. Though  Are you in a need for a book loving "pick-me-up"?
Profile Image for Ksenia (vaenn).
436 reviews203 followers
March 3, 2019
Кілька есеїв про радість і користь читання та кількадесят симпатичних книжкових артів та фото разом створюють милий, але прохідний кофітейбл для книголюбів. На наші гроші - це взяти "Як читати класиків" (так, есей про повіііііііільне читання класиків тут теж є), скоротити вдесятеро (майже без втрат, треба сказати) та схрестити з букстаграмом. І на виході маємо щось радше подарункове для затятих читак, у випадку з якими боїшся схибити "а раптом отаке вже прочитане/куплене?".
Profile Image for Courtney.
1,538 reviews21 followers
October 10, 2017
Hmmm, not really. I would have happily have looked through people's bookshelves for hours. This was more meme heavy. It was also tiny. I expect an art book to be hefty. The title is the best thing about it.
Profile Image for Sim ✨(wholesimreads).
272 reviews30 followers
November 10, 2017
🌟🌟🌟 3.5 stars

A quick but enjoyable read. Scattered with cute illustrations and quotes, it reminded me why reading is the best thing ever.
Profile Image for Zenda.
1,559 reviews
February 9, 2022
Fun art

I enjoyed this collection of essays, but it was very heavy on classics. This isn't necessarily an issue as I have read and do still read a lot of classics, but anything else seemed to be discounted and made the writing seem a bit elitist. I say, read what you love and just be willing to broaden your horizons. To me, this is more important than what books you read, but that's just my opinion.
Profile Image for Sarah W..
2,067 reviews11 followers
June 26, 2020
So, first of all, the title of this book basically reflects my permanent mood. And secondly, like the primary author, I am a lover of books and I've totally had the experience of a literature class destroying my pleasure in reading. Of course, I have and will likely always come back to reading, like an alcoholic returning to drinking. Which is why this small volume, with short articles, poetry, quotes, and art about reading, is a delight to my soul.
Profile Image for Michelle Leonard.
245 reviews73 followers
March 12, 2018
Very cute, pretty and short book about readers and the love of reading. Includes an intro and 3 short essays...the rest of the book is made of up lovely bookish arts and quotes.
Profile Image for Santhi.
533 reviews98 followers
November 17, 2019
Impossible not to love this 'ode to all things bookish'
Profile Image for Lauren.
344 reviews5 followers
April 16, 2018
The most relatable part of this book happened in the first essay, where the author stated, "Bridge to Terabithia—my God, I don’t think I could get through Bridge to Terabithia dry-eyed today" and that's when I knew that I would want to re-read this book again just to hear how much other people love books as much as I do.

This whole book had maybe 3 total essays but a lot of pictures related to reading, I read through it really fast but I also got a bunch more books to add to my "to-read" shelf and a new appreciation of my family and the role they played in letting me read. Overall, I enjoyed this book purely because it didn't require much thought to read but it still curated that continual love of reading within me.
Profile Image for Emmy.
1,665 reviews42 followers
January 31, 2018
A lovely collection of beautiful pictures. But, it's not just the pictures! The little essays scattered throughout are also very interesting and fun to read. A great recommendation for book lovers!
46 reviews1 follower
August 22, 2017
Cute fast read with a few reading/book related essays, and fun book-themed art & photos. I read it in the carpool line one afternoon. Think of this as a tiny little coffee table book.
Profile Image for Isa (Pages Full of Stars).
1,061 reviews114 followers
April 17, 2020
"The love of reading that has passed down through generations of my family is the greatest gift that I could imagine and the greatest legacy I can leave my child. I am so lucky to have been raised as a reader,"

I absolutely adore books about book and will never pass a chance to read another one, be it a collection of essays or a fictional novel about bookworms. I'd Rather Be Reading is a collection of four short essays, each connected by a few pieces of bookish artwork. In general, it's a good read for book lovers, but to me it seemed too short and brief.

Each essay was written by a different person which is perhaps why they felt quite random to my. I guess I could say that they had one topic in common - books - but I didn't feel any connection in them. Ultimately, I would say it was an enjoyable quick read, but I have to admit that I found myself more fascinated with the art included in the book, than with the writing.
Profile Image for Sue.
781 reviews1 follower
December 20, 2019
If you want validation about why you love reading.. and yes! fiction! Read This Book! yes, it is very short but the four essays-Autobiography of a BookWorm- A Slow Books Manifesto- Cheating by Ann Patchett and 13 Tips for Getting More Reading Done.... will warm your heart and your reading head....
Profile Image for Anastasia.
922 reviews128 followers
September 13, 2018
It was entertaining, the pictures were beautiful, but it didn't feel like a whole book. Just 4 short essays and a bunch of pictures. Nice one to get distracted, but nothing I'd cherish. Still, I guess I'm glad I've read it.
Profile Image for Swati.
352 reviews54 followers
February 1, 2019
A delightful set of essays that is accompanied by some really beautiful illustrations! In fact, I think I loved those more than the essays! So much that I want to make posters and frame some of them!

@Smitha you know which one I am giving you!
Profile Image for Shari (Shira).
2,082 reviews
December 22, 2019
Reading this book is my holiday gift! De la Mare spied on my life! She knows that I have a Book Twin(1); I stay up too late reading; I struggle to find places to store books; Books stay with me for years in years; There are lines from books that I continue to quote; and so much more!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 389 reviews

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