In my collection of illustrations and art featuring books and reading, there are a lot that involve animals. The overwhelming choice of animal is cats, followed closely by birds. I get why those two animals show up again and again. Birds for dreams and flights of fancy and cats for cozy—and both suggest interiority.
But I’ve been surprised to find I have a handful of illustrations featuring rabbits, too. I can’t really think of why. Rabbits do have a bit of literary heritage. There’s Alice in Wonderland, of course, and Peter Rabbit. Maybe the fact that they live in burrows suggests the subconscious and interiority, (but I haven’t run across many illustrations of books, reading and snakes). What mostly seems to come across is a feeling of incongruity.
Like these two intellectuals.
Or this self-satisfied fellow.
This guy has burrowed in. The way I like to.
These readers are just sweet.
There’s a load of incongruities in this one:
In this one, I like how cleverly the artist has blended the two realities. Let’s not even get into how there’s actually no reality here at all.
Here a lot of animals get a chance at reading, but the rabbit definitely stands out. As with some of the other illustrations, the joke seems to be how intellectual the bunny is. So maybe rabbits reading is all about not being a dumb bunny.
I really like how your post suggested themes to certain animals, especially “interiority.” When my mother died, (several years ago now) for some reason I took comfort in going to the children’s section of the library and slowly choosing 30 books to check out to read, one a day, through a month until it was time to return them, and check out 30 more. I found this very satisfying and really didn’t need to continue the practice for more than a few months. Over time I noted that many of the books included illustrations of bears. I’m really glad I was able to think of doing this!