My 6 Favorite Books About Books
A couple of weeks ago, I finally read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, which had been highly recommended by Lea, my bookish bestie.
I’d put it off for months, suspecting I wouldn’t like it, so you can imagine my surprise when I fell in love with the story from the beginning. I flew through the novel in only a few sittings, and it’s definitely going on my list of all time favorite books.
My reasoning for avoiding that book was valid. Most of my previous experiences with books set in bookstores is solidly “meh.” Many of the ones beloved by my fellow bibliophiles didn’t move me in the same way. Notable examples are Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne Barrows.
So while I was enjoying A.J. Fikry’s story, I was reflecting on the rarity of the situation. Later, it occurred to me there are a few other books about books which I’ve enjoyed. Few is the key word there, so here they are:
- The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
At first I feared this may have some of the same cheesy elements I disliked about other similar novels, then it quickly set itself apart. I loved how all the characters lives became intertwined on the island, and around the bookstore. It’s a sweet story yet not unrealistically so. Zevin perfectly captures what it’s like to live a life built around a love of reading and sharing that with others. I appreciate the message of how much power there can be in the shared love of books.
2. The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
This is an all around fantastic memoir. It’s honest, funny, and gives insight into a life I could never imagine experiencing. Josh ties all the aspects of his life together seamlessly. I laughed out loud many times, and enjoyed all the literary references. It’s a unique, touching story.
3. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This is another one I put off for a long time (years!) for the reasons I mentioned above. And then I was sorry I’d waited so long. This gorgeous novel kept me captivated in its world the entire time I was reading it. When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about it, wondering what was going to happen. This is a sweeping tale of love, loyalty, revenge, and of course books. We follow Daniel from childhood to adulthood, through joy and sorrow, all the while unraveling a decades old mystery. There’s everything a reader could wish for: romance, murder, intrigue. The only thing keeping me from giving it 5 stars is that I guessed the twist early on. Although I’m not sure if the reader is intended to do that or not…
4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
I found this book in the free bin at my library, designated for exchanging old magazine issues, but I have found many a treasure in there! I hadn’t heard of this book and it sounded intriguing so I gave it a try. Despite a slow start, it quickly became engrossing. The story of an aging fiction writing who summons a young biographer to tell her story. This book encompasses all the aspects of being a book lover, including being a writer, and cherishing the authors whose work moves us.
5. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
This is a great mixture of literary fiction and mystery. It’s an interesting storyline with unique characters. It remained compelling all the way through, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the story when I had to put it down. I enjoyed how all the pieces came together. My only complaint is the narrator of the audio book was a female who did a horrible job with masculine voices. They all sounded like vintage mobsters. So maybe stick with the print version of this one!
6. The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life by Steve Leeven
This book played a crucial role in boosting my reading habits and justifying my book hoarding! The author offers a great deal of advice on how to become “well read,” while emphasizing that is different for everyone. I quote this author when people tell me they have “too many books” because in a quest to be well read, that isn’t really a thing! I highly recommend this for people who are coming into their own as readers, and who are looking for ways to make more time in their lives for reading.