We’ve long been fans of Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom, who set up Fantastic Man magazine. They’ve now collaborated with Penguin to produce a new quarterly for booklovers called The Happy Reader. It’s smaller in format than Fantastic Man and not glossy but has the same commitment to beautiful design. The first issue, Winter 2014, features the actor and Booker Prize judge Dan Stevens. This might seem a curiously mainstream choice but one of the aims of the magazine is to find readers who are best known for work in other areas and to avoid only featuring writers. The interview with Stevens, conducted by the novelist Naomi Alderman, is in fact free-ranging and covers diverse writers including Ken Follett, Roald Dahl and the masculinist Robert Bly.
This first issue also includes an exploration of Wilkie Collin’s Victorian thriller The Woman in White through the prisms of fashion, confectionery (including a recipe for the chocolate and vanilla bon bons that appear in the book), and geography. Novelist Nicci Gerrard also writes about when she first read the novel and in the process, describes reading as a ‘drugged and dreamy sense of self-loss.’
We’ve already subscribed and suggest you do the same. The next issue of this splendid new magazine will feature – among other things – an exploration of The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakuro, a Penguin Classic.