The issue for winter 2019 marks The Happy Reader’s fifth anniversary. As absorbing, beautiful and freewheeling as ever, it brings together an in-depth conversation with fashion’s Grace Wales Bonner and an exploration of Joris-Karl Huysmans’ fascinatingly odd novel Against Nature.
Grace Wales Bonner is a 28 year old fashion designer from south-east London. She has been feted by the worlds of both serious culture and high glamour, but here’s the unusual part: her clothes come with reading lists. Interviewed by Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri for this Happy Reader cover story, Grace explains how she sees herself on some level as a researcher. She visits libraries, digests acres of complex ideas about politics and identity, and expresses them, among other things, via the realm of clothes.
The Happy Reader is the world’s magazine-shaped reading group: each issue explores a single book, a classic, a work that has survived the changing tastes of several generations. The Book of the Season this winter is Joris-Karl Huysmans’ Against Nature (1884), perhaps the most decadent novel ever written. Its relentless inventory-keeping thrills and inspires some readers and baffles others, and is highly relevant to this season of non-stop accumulation. Contributors include Jarvis Cocker, Lydia Davis, Rob Doyle and Jeanette Winterson.