Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Magazine of the Moment | The Happy Reader

After a very prolonged 'pause', I am so happy to once again be typing up another 'Magazine of the Moment' post. Admittedly, the ferocity with which I have been consuming new 'indie' magazines has diminished a lot since my last post, as I both came to realise that I couldn't keep up with all the magazines I was purchasing and I was probably spending a little too much of my money on them (I know *shock horror*. I never thought I'd type those words either...). I'm now focusing on buying the magazines I truly love and leave me hungry for more the minute I finish reading the final page.

One of these magazines is The Happy Reader. A quarterly publication, the fundamentals of this magazine are refreshingly simple. Each issue is split into two halves: the first half consists of an in-depth interview with a prominent celebrity or figure and the second half consists of an in-depth analysis of a piece of literature. Being a collaborative project between Fantastic Man and Penguin Classics, The Happy Reader is a marriage of exquisite style and literature. But for me, what makes it so unique, is it invites readers to further explore their own curiosity.

In the information/media saturated world that has seen our attention spans grow ever thinner, The Happy Reader is a welcome reprieve from all the noise. The interview half of the magazine is very extensive - more so than any other feature I have read in other publications. The issues I have read so far featured incredibly prominent people within their fields (actors, curators, artists), although they were still people of which I was personally unaware. This was no detriment to my reading experience though; I got to learn so much about the handful of people in the most organic way possible. The interviews are conducted as if the interviewer and interviewee are merely good friends talking the afternoon away. Of course, books are a regular and reoccurring topic of conversation, but the interviews also delve into the areas of art, music and cinema. On the occasions that I have found myself reading these interviews (at a cafe, on public transport and even in the bath) I have always been enraptured by the insights that the interviewees gave and eagerly noted down every reference to things that inspired them in some way.

The second half of the magazine is a pastiche of essays, opinion pieces, artworks and, in the case of the latest issue, activities that relate to the chosen classic of that issue. I particularly enjoyed the second half of Summer 2016, which focused on Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Favourite articles of mine included: 'On Big Ben', which discussed the sound and significance of the iconic bell of London, 'Ten Men I Should Have Married', which sees the writer take apt inspiration from Clarissa's constant wondering of what might have been had she married Peter Walsh, and 'My First Great Book', in which author Michael Cunningham discusses how Mrs Dalloway changed his life and helped shape his career. These pieces are indicative of the ways that literature can shape people; their ideas, livelihoods, careers and every day life. Reading it, I not only became more curious about the impact of great works of literature, but the varying ways in which we interpret them and attach individual meaning.

The Happy Reader is an absolutely delightful magazine that provides food for thought at a very reasonable price (8 pound for a yearly subscription or, if you are lucky enough to find a local stockist like I have, about $6 per issue in Australia). If you happen to live in London, I also urge you to send through your interest to attend their book club events which coincide the release of the newest issue. I was so lucky to have been able to attend the second Joseph x Happy reader Book Club. It was an evening of enlightening discussion with like minded readers and lovers of Virginia Woolf accompanied by bottomless gin and tonics. It was one of the highlights of my trip to London, and I think for that reason, I will always have a soft spot for The Happy Reader

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