Books are impractical companions and housemates: they are heavy when you are travelling, and in the home take up a lot of space, are hard to keep clean, and harbour insects. It is not a matter of the physical book, it is the deep emotional connection that stretches back to my early years. Living without them is unimaginable.
These collected essays share a joyous and plaintive glimpse into the reading and writing life of novelist, editor and teacher of creative writing Debra Adelaide.
Every book I have read becomes part of me, and discarding any is like tearing out a page from my own life.
With immediate wit and intimacy, Adelaide explores what shapes us as readers, how books inform, console and broaden our senses of self, and the constant conversation of authors and readers with the rest of their libraries. Drawing from her experiences in the publishing industry, the academic world, her own life and the literary and critical communities, she paints a vibrant portrait of a life lived in and by books, perfect for any student, bibliophile, editor, or simply: reader.
PRAISE FOR THE INNOCENT READER 'In an act of generosity, Adelaide offers readers a deeper understanding of how the unconscious shapes, filters and connects ideas through a lifelong love affair with books. She has given me sharper lenses through which to focus more closely on what is on the page and how it got there.' CAROLINE BAUM 'The complex transaction between writer and reader unfolds, in these vivid and generous personal essays, to produce a hymn to the uncanny power of fiction.' CARMEL BIRD 'A passion for books is threaded through every part of Debra Adelaide's life, as writer, teacher and mother. She's an unpretentious but discerning reader, a rigorous and amusing guide, a generous and confiding friend, a 'literary autodidact' who demonstrates that reading is both an appetite and a muscle. I devoured these essays, spiced with the detail of Debra's personal experience, and felt again the pure hunger for books I had as a child. The Innocent Reader has the power to ignite a love of stories and sentences, and is a trove of wisdom for readers, writers and students who want to sharpen their skills.' SUSAN WYNDHAM 'An indispensable guide for every student of creative writing, an ideal companion for the avid reader. A book full of insights as helpful to the seasoned professional writer as to the novice starting out. The Innocent Reader is also a sort of companion to the body of work of one of our most treasured writers, wherein the author gives away more of herself than ever before, through books both read and written, with friends in the business of reading and writing. Debra Adelaide's reflections are at once warm-hearted and steely, and throw light not just on her own work, but also our literary culture as a whole.' FIONA McGREGOR