Book lovers, can you resist these books about bookshops, libraries, reading, and (yes) other books? Not likely! Here are 8 books that were especially written to make bibliophiles drool.
Note: non-fiction only! The fiction books about the pleasures of reading (which is a whole other niche) is a subject for a different post!
The Diary of a Bookseller (Shaun Bythell)
Shaun Bythell is the owner of The Bookshop in the tiny village of Wigtown, Scotland (pop.: 1,000), situated in a beautiful forgotten corner of Scotland. If that sounds like a dream, you're partly right. Sometimes, as the curmudgeonly Shaun (hilariously) tells us, it's also a bit of a nightmare. A cross between Black Books and Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, Shaun's diary covers one year and is full of funny anedoctes and confessions about the day-to-day of being a bookseller. This is a supremely cosy read, and I believe any book lover will enjoy it. (You'll even get some nice book recs out of it).
The Bookshop Book (Jen Campbell)
Jen Campbell is also the author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops (and its sequel - both absolutely hilarious). Here she writes about the weird and wonderful bookshops to be found all over the planet (over 300!), definitely a delicious treat for any bookshop lover. (Fun fact: Wigtown's The Bookshop is featured here!).
She also takes us through the history of books, shares a ton of bookish facts, talks to authors about their favourite places, and of course to the owners of these bookshops.
The Library: A World History (James W. P. Campbell, Will Pryce)
If you're more of a library person, feast your eyes: a gorgeous coffee table book that combines lush photographs of over 80 magnificent libraries and a history of libraries around the world, from ancient Mesopotamia to modern China and from the beginnings of writing to the present day.
The Book of Forgotten Authors (Christopher Fowler)
Originally a column at the Independent, this is a book about "forgotten" authors, their lives (often very eccentric) and their works (once hugely popular, now obscure for a variety of reasons). If you like discovering authors outside of the new releases and best seller lists, this is a real gem. The sense of humour of the author is great, and you can easily dip in and out of this volume, or read it out of order. It also makes for some great discussions!
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (Anne Fadiman)
This collection of charming essays by a passionate reader is a fantastic treat to incurable bibliophiles. Here are musings about merging libraries with your spouse, not being able to restrain yourself from buying a book at a second hand bookshop, the differences between people who like to keep their books pristine ("courtly lovers") and people who prefer their volumes full of inscriptions and dog-eared pages ("carnal lovers") - and so much more.
Howards End is on the Landing (Susan Hill)
Susan Hill is the British author of The Woman in Black, among (many) other books. One day she looked at all the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of books she had in her home and decided that, for a whole year, she would not buy another new book, but only read (and reread) the ones she already owned. This led to her writing this volume on the experience, which is really a delight. Her passion for literature shines through, and readers will be treated to a full tour of her bookshelves and to many discussions of classic authors and books. It's a light read, a bit memoir-ish. There is a recently released sequel to this volume: Jacob's Room is Full of Books.
Words are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books 2000-2016 (Ursula K. Le Guin)
Literature lovers everywhere were saddened by Ursula Le Guin's passing this year. She wrote groundbreaking fiction that will live on for a very long time. In this volume are collected essays, speeches, introductions, and book reviews, where she speaks at length about literature, vigorously defends science fiction, and where the reader is privileged to learn more about her as a person and as an author.
84, Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff)
This is a true classic of the "books about books" genre so get on it if you haven't read it yet. A collection of (real) letters exchanged between an American woman with a passion for old books and the London bookseller who sent her many treasures over the years. Their friendship is beautiful and touching. There is a sequel of sorts to the book, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (which I didn't know when I read the book myself!).
sources 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 - write-up by me!
ONTD, have you read these or other "books about books"? do you have a favourite?