Books About Books

Whether fictional trips for the imagination, or non-fiction accounts of reading lives, if I see a book about books, I am sure to pick it up.  Books, for me, are eternally fascinating, and I have had the opportunity to read some wonderfully bookish works over the years, which I thought I would share with you.  In no particular order, and without further ado, here are the books about books which I would heartily recommend.

Fiction:

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 9780552773898
    ‘1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.’
  2. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
    ‘Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, brutal, dangerous Charlie, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart…Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past – and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic writer Vida Winter? And what is the secret that strikes at the heart of Margaret’s own, troubled life? As Margaret digs deeper, two parallel stories unfold, and the tale she uncovers sheds a disturbing light on her own life…’
  3. 9780747598800The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
    ‘It’s 1946. Juliet Ashton, a 32-year-old writer, has found a certain recognition through her light-hearted column for the Spectator which lifted the spirits of her readers during WW2, but she can’t think what to write next. But then Dawsey Adams writes to her from Guernsey – by chance he’s acquired a book Juliet once owned – and, emboldened by their mutual love of books, they begin a correspondence. Dawsey belongs to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and as Juliet investigates the strange-named reading group, soon she stumbles upon a whole number of islanders eager to write and tell her of their experiences of the German occupation of Guernsey. Entranced by her new friends, Juliet decides to visit the island to meet them properly. A moving tale of friendship, tolerance and forgiveness in the wake of a period of unthinkable hardship and horror, this is set to become a classic.’
  4. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
    ‘Meggie loves books. So does her father, Mo, a bookbinder, although he has never read aloud to her since her mother mysteriously disappeared. They live quietly until the night a stranger knocks at their door. He has come with a warning that forces Mo to reveal an extraordinary secret – a storytelling secret that will change their lives for ever.’

 

Non-fiction:

  1. Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill 9781846682667
    ‘Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to get to know her own collection again. A book which is left on a shelf for a decade is a dead thing, but it is also a chrysalis, packed with the potential to burst into new life. Wandering through her house that day, Hill’s eyes were opened to how much of that life was stored in her home, neglected for years. Howards End is on the Landing charts the journey of one of the nation’s most accomplished authors as she revisits the conversations, libraries and bookshelves of the past that have informed a lifetime of reading and writing.’
  2. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
    ‘Anne Fadiman is the sort of person who learned about sex from her father’s copy of “Fanny Hill”, and who once found herself poring over a 1974 Toyota Corolla manual because it was the only thing in her apartment that she had not read at least twice. “Ex Libris” wittily recounts a lifelong obsession with books. Writing with humour and erudition she moves easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family.’
  3. 978186049850384, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
    ‘This book is the very simple story of the love affair between Miss Helene Hanff of New York and Messrs Marks and Co, sellers of rare and secondhand books, at 84 Charing Cross Road, London.’
  4. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
    ‘In his monthly column “Stuff I’ve Been Reading,” Hornby lists the books he’s purchased that month, and briefly discusses the books he’s actually read. Nick Hornby’s Polysyllabic Spree includes selected passages from the novels, biographies, collections of poetry, and comics discussed in the column.’

 

The best thing is that there are so many books about books left for me to enjoy that I feel I have barely scratched the surface.  Which are your favourite books about books?

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