I loved Grant Snider’s new book from the moment I pulled it out of the bag—a pleasant sort of surprise bag, thanks to COVID-era curbside pickup at my local independent bookstore. “I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf,” a collection of Snider’s one- and two-page comics, features a die-cut cover with an adorable character peeking out from behind a crowded bookshelf.
The collection explores bookishness and book lovers in all our obsessive glory, from the way we gleefully inhale the scent of an old novel to our continual quest for the perfect book. Snider, a Wichita orthodontist by day and writer-artist by night, is the creator of Incidental Comics. His first book, “The Shape of Ideas,” explored the joys and frustrations of the creative process, and this new one is a book for book addicts, a volume that had me nodding and smiling and thinking, “Oh yeah, that’s me.”
Snider’s whimsical style shines through on every page of this new collection, which is sorted into confessional chapters, such as “I steal books from my children” and “I am wanted for unpaid library fines.” He plays with words and honors several authors with comics that show he reads a lot himself. One of my favorites is “Haruki Murakami Bingo,” in which the squares of a bingo card include “train station,” “ear fetish” and “urban ennui.”
Some of Snider’s one-page illustrations remind me of the old “Busytown” books by Richard Scarry -- bustling, colorful scenes that are full of detail. I breezed through this book the first time through, then found myself coming back to it, flipping to a page and spending more time appreciating the subtleties.
If you surround yourself with books and can’t imagine life without them, you’ll definitely want to add Snider’s new collection to your shelf.