If You Like….
In last week’s Weekly Reading Round-Up, Ashley and Joanne had a great suggestion: books about books. (Not like we’re a little book obsessed over here or anything.)
So, if you like books about books, you’ll probably like….
— A.S. Byatt’s Possession, in which a letter stuck in a book starts a scholar off on a quest through poetry and the past;
— Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Club Dumas, in which skullduggery and swashbuckling abound when a book detective is brought in to authenticate a fragment of Dumas’s original manuscript of The Three Musketeers;
— Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club, in which Boston’s literary elite must track down a killer whose crimes echo scenes from Dante’s Inferno;
— Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches, in which a book called up in the Bodleian launches an American scholar– and witch– into a world filled with arcane creatures and danger;
— Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, in which a Harvard grad student’s search for the mysterious shadow book of Deliverance Dane takes her on a journey into the Salem Witch trials and her own family’s past;
— Barbara Michaels’ Houses of Stone, in which a manuscript by an unknown nineteenth century woman writer sends a scholar hunting through an old Virginia mansion for clues;
— Caroline Llewellyn’s Life Blood, in which a Canadian children’s book illustrator sets out to discover just why certain parties were so eager to see all the copies of her grandmother’s mystery novel destroyed.
Although it doesn’t entirely fit the category, I would also list Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey as a book about books, since it is Catherine Morland’s fascination with gothic novels that drives the plot.
What are your favorite books about books?
I have lots of these I really like, but here are some of my favorites:
“All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane” by Amy Elizabeth Smith
This is a nonfiction account of Amy’s trip to South America to see how Jane Austen’s novels translate literally and culturally. It’s really fun and clever.
“The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton
From GoodReads: Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace – the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century – Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.
“Alice I Have Been” by Melanie Benjamin
This book is about Alice Liddell Hargreaves who, as a little girl, was the inspiration for Lewis Carrol’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
Right now, I’m finishing up “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which is a really interesting mystery surrounding an author whose books are being systematically destroyed and a boy who is determined to find out why.
I LOVE “The Forgotten Garden”! It’s my favorite Kate Morton book!
The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield) — chilling gothic tale!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer) — one of the loveliest and sweetest books of all time! My favorite quote: “I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” I really believe this!
The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)– both gothic tales with a piece of literature at the heart of the story.
Anything in the Jasper Fforde series: The Eyre Affair, The Well of lost Plots, etc…
The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)– worthwhile young adult read.
And I cannot forget one of my personal favorites that is not technically about a book but so speaks to a love of books and writing: Little Women (Louisa May Alcott). I wanted to be a writer when I was little, so Jo March was my hero!
Definitely Thirteenth Tale, and I also recently read The Archivist, by Martha Cooley, which isn’t about *a* book but about TS Eliot and his poetry. Amazing writing!
“The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield is one of my favorites.
I just heard a few days ago that the BBC is making “The Thirteenth Tale” into a movie– and that Setterfield’s next book comes out in November!
Am I missing something? Everyone seems to love “The Thirteenth Tale” but I did not enjoy it at all. I thought the characters were way too disturbing to make the book enjoyable. Does anyone else feel this way??
Ditto Alice, ditto.
People Of The Book by Geraldine Brooks. Excellent!
That was a wonderful book!
A while ago I realized that I had been reading books about books and I love many of the books listed above especially “A Discovery of Witches”, “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” which also lead me to other books about witches, any book by Kate Morton, and “The Thirteenth tale”. The first book that I read that started this trend was “The Rule of Four” by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. I also just fininshed “Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore” which is also a story about books. Love reading! Thanks for the suggestions of new books to read.
I just love Kasey Michaels’ series the Maggie Kelley mysteries. Maggie is a romance novelist whose Regency rake hero comes to life, along with his sidekick. It is hysterically funny, with many satirical insights about publishing and the romance genre in particular
Meg Waite Clayton’s The Wednesday Sisters is about a group of SAHMs in the 1960s who start a writing group; the narrator gets her novel published. (Anything by MWC is awesome).
Then, of course, there’s The Jane Austen Book Club…forget the author, too lazy to find my copy 🙂
“The Winter Sea” by Susanna Kearsley. My favorite of all her books. In it, the main character is writing a historical novel. “The Last Dickens” also by Matthew Pearl, where the characters are searching for the lost manuscript of Charles Dickens book “Edwin Drood.” “The Twelfth Enchantment” by David Liss. “the Dead Travel Fast” by Deanna Raybourn.
I can’t believe I’ve never mentally categorized “The Winter Sea” as a book about a book – it’s one of my favorites!
Seconding Jasper Fforde!
And I think I saw Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore up there as well, but I needed to reiterate it because it was fantastic as all get out. Very thought-provoking in a time where our media are changing so quickly.
What a great topic.
(Note: if this appears more than once, so sorry! The internet blipped out on me and I got confused.)
How about 84 Charing Cross Road? Or Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. I also really love Anne Fadiman’s two books of essays, Ex Libris and At Small and At Large.
The film adaptation of 84 Charing Cross is excellent as well… Anthony Hopkins 🙂
In the realm of children’s literature, Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke. Yes, it’s a children’s book, but at 30 I still found it a fascinating read in the world of books about books. It’s a sort of fairytale in the Wim Wenders tradition (yes, I know he’s a filmmaker, not an author.)
Oh, I love the Inkheart series! The sequels more then the original.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
There’s a library and mystery….
The Girl who Played with Fire
by Stieg Larsson
A book leads to a magazine expose in Millenium which leads to trouble…
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
This book is directly insired by the Mysteries of Udolpho (also good) and which all the characters in Northanger happen to be reading
I actually learned above from
The Jane Austen Club by Karen Joy Fowler
where all the characters are reading the works of Jane Austen
I am reading Lamb by Christopher Moore in which a fictional character writes an alternative gospel.
Sylvester by Georgette Heyer She wrote a book that hits closer to home than she knew.
Kathleen McGowan writes mystical Christian thrillers (a la Da Vinci Code) in which a woman goes on a journey throughout Europe discovering the lost history of the reputed descendants of Jesus. The first book, The Expected One, is about the search for the Lost Gospel of Mary Magdalene. The second book is called The Book of Love, about the search for the One True Gospel of Jesus (the Book of Love),and it features excerpts from the lost Book. There’s also a third book, The Poet Prince, about the Lorenzo de Medici, and a forthcoming book about Anne Boleyn. The whole series is worth checking out, as it utilizes dual narrative!
It may be more about libraries than books, but I loved Elizabeth Kostova’s “The Historian”. A hunt through libraries and books chasing the idea that Dracula may be real.
A few of my favorite books-about-books:
Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett