Metawriting might so 2005, but there’s also something entirely satisfying about it, and Grant Snider amps it up with comics. Earlier this year, Snider released I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf, a book of his recent cartoons on the subject of the pursuit of those elusive novels – the one you’re always secretly writing and the one you’re supposed to be reading. Whatever kind of bibliophile, Snider has a comic that skewers you at least a dozen others for all of the others at the library.

Readers of The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and a whole bunch of other publications will recognized Snider’s distinctive playful drawing style, but for the rest of us there’s Instagram which happens to the first place where I saw more than a few of the comics gathered here. The theme for this collection is a love of books. These comics glow with that same radiance that seems to fill old bookstores and the special collections room when you’ve just cracked the spine of something *inhales* obscure.  

But it’s not all appreciation for the classics. Snider seems to be full of unsaid feelings about William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and haikus, but despite the welcome inclusion of a little vinegar he keeps the overall tone light. If anything, the nameless man and woman in his panels believe that the world does need your novel after all. It’s okay to invest in that extra bookshelf, but maybe don’t build your own. The world of reading spreads wide, from his nine-panel strips, to a truncated alphabet, to expansive single panel gags with filled witty minutiae. 

As a recipient of a copy shortly after it came out, I can vouch that it’s a great holiday gift for the book nerd in your life. Snider’s love of the written word is apparent throughout the collection, which provides a strong dose of encouragement for those book nerds in our life. Buying a physical copy is also a great way to support your favorite web cartoonists, but I don’t think Snider will mind if you ask the public library to get a copy for you.

Four out of five stars.

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