I happened to see this wonderful book by Marian Bantjes on a bookshop as well as on the school’s library and it immediately caught my attention. I didn’t know what it was about, I didn’t even read the title, but I was drawn to how it felt like. It murmured touch me, hug me, in a way few objects do nowadays. It is very tactile, both in a visual way and to the hand’s touch. Covered in silver and gold foil, with an intricate pattern, and a bright purple bookmark, I had to open it.
Inside, every spread is carefully designed by the author: she illustrates each detail, sets the type precisely where it should be (and even designs it herself) and the content of each story, each chapter has a lot of heart.
Marian Bantjes created this book with love and care, and it shows in the stories she tells, choosing content and container in a way that makes sense, that goes hand in hand and that potentializes the other. Every chapter/story looks different, as the content is quite different itself.
As she says : “some of the articles were originally published as blog posts for the now-archived blog Speak Up, but they have been resurrected, edited, rewritten and given new life in these pages”.
Marian talks about the sense of wonder, about ornamentation, secrets, the stars and constellations, honour, Santa as a brand, and her own mother. The layout is a visual feast, and the format of the book suitable to hold and read, to go back and forth through the pages, very inviting to touch. Also, throughout the book she manages to place quotations relevant to the chapters.
To Wonder is to be Human
Some thoughts that I considered touching and interesting are:
Essence and Memories
“The things that people make and touch and own often seem to hold an inexplicable essence of the person, and these items are cherished out of proportion to their actual, useful or aesthetic value. Smell, touch and sight combine to form powerful memories, and these sentimental objects are often sequestered from the everyday in order to preserve and honour the memory they embody”
The Return to the Source is Invaluable
“No digital archive, photo, print, copy or facsimile will hold the power of an original artifact possessed by the person it is connected to. This is the reason we have museums and archives, because the return to the source is invaluable.”
Immortality is the human in others
“Memory is what keeps us in place, in time. But our ability to shape and construct the past takes many forms, and those who take it on have great power in what we project to the future. Images of people are always so compelling for what we recognize and what we seek to recognize. They’re so much more than an image of a thing or a place because we’re able to project ourselves and our understanding of what it is to be human into them. When we look at a picture of someone and think about them as a person, we bring them to life. This is perhaps the closest to immortality that we will ever get.”
Books that hold stories that are relevant, question us, that are close to the heart and that are impeccably designed are hard to find. This one is a keeper.
I Wonder’s site here.