You know when you love something so much because it’s so perfect and fills you to the brim with such a satisfying sensation? Something that ticks all the right boxes, that is made with care and attention to detail? Well, this is the case of The Happy Reader.
Denominated a bookish quarterly, The Happy Reader was launched in winter 2014 and is published four times a year. A collaboration between Penguin Books and Fantastic Man, there are now five issues in total, which is not nearly enough.
“THE HAPPY READER is a unique magazine about reading for anyone who wishes to stay inspired, informed and entertained. With beautiful typography, the magazine is a design object that celebrates the pure pleasure of reading and the calming luxury of being offline. Each issue is split into two halves. The first half is an in-depth interview with a book fanatic and the second half gets under the skin of one classic work of literature.”
This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how luxuriously perfect this little magazine is. Reminiscent of the fanzine format, but geared towards a hipster generation, without being pretentious, The Happy Reader walks that thin line that separates the normal from the odd world of obsessed and nerdy people.
Each edition follows a strict aesthetic, with charming prints that are often turned into bookmarks so beautiful and simple that I can’t bring myself to use them. Eerie and slightly desolate photos are peppered throughout, heightening the sense of enjoyment, of the strange. A lovely intro by editor-in-chief Seb Emina takes you by the hand, leading you into the bubble of The Happy Reader. Next in line, Snippets: News, gossip, books and inspiration. The weird and the wonderful.
As mentioned above, the first half of the magazine is dedicated to an in-depth interview that reads more like a private conversation held in a great bar over delicious drinks. As you read and tumble further down the rabbit hole, there is the delicious sensation of naughtily eavesdropping. So far we have had the pleasure of discovering the private thoughts of actor Dan Stevens; artist and musician Kim Gordon; comedian Aziz Ansari; actor Alan Cumming; and musician Grimes.
The second part of The Happy Reader is dedicated to shortish articles, very intimate and warm, revolving around a particular book. From ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins to ‘The Book of Tea’ by Kakuzo Okakura; ‘Granite Island’ by Dorothy Carrington; ‘The Purple Cloud’ by M. P. Shiel; and ‘Au Bonheur des Dames’ by Émile Zola.
What I love about The Happy Reader is the intelligence minus the pretentiousness. This is love in its’ purest form, a love for books and reading that jumps out of every page, sucks you in, teasingly demands attention. It’s not especially directed at men and not especially directed at women. It is directed at people who are passionate about reading and books. It’s almost impossible not to sit down and race through the entire thing in one go. I ration out each issue, enjoying small bites instead of gorging, managing to extend the pleasure for an entire week.
I have Iván from Free Time to thank for this discovery. If you live in Barcelona and don’t already know this place, I suggest you swing by for a visit. No-where else in the city can you find such a complete collection of magazines, Iván strives to bring hidden gems, untapped curiosities and limited editions to this mecca of print. He really takes care of his customers, watching out for magazines that might be of special interest.
Now I can only wait until spring and the next edition of The Happy Reader which will bring The Saga of Gösta Berling by Selma Lagerlöf. I wish this were a monthly publication. I really can’t wait!