11 delightful books about books

Feb 19, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Image: Tetra Images/Getty Images

I cannot recall life without books. I was fortunate to be born into a family of bibliophiles. My parents’ and grandparents’ homes had rooms filled with books, and I spent hours discovering new places and people within the covers of those tomes. It is no wonder that I developed a love of the written word, devouring not just books but books about books.

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This is by no means a comprehensive list of every book written about books, bookshops or reading. It is, however, a compilation of the ones to which I return when I want to visit an old haunt or longtime friend.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

by Gabrielle Zevin

Image: Indie Bound

The setting of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikryis a bookstore. How could a book lover not love a book set in a bookstore? The newly widowed protagonist is quirky but endearing as he makes a life for himself and his young daughter on a small island in his shop.

2. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

by Katarina Bivald

Image: Amazon

I love books. I love reading about protagonists who love books. And I love to read about bookstores. All of this makes The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend a perfect choice for me. The story is a bit unusual — in a really engaging way. Not only did I enjoy the story, but the author introduced me to other books I can't wait to read.

3. The Jane Austen Book Club

by Karen Joy Fowler

Image: Indie Bound

Reading The Jane Austen Book Club was like being a part of that book club. The characters are drawn — as Fowler is wont to do — so multidimensionally they could be one’s neighbor or relative or friend. They breathe. Plus, for fans of Jane Austen, it’s especially enjoyable to hear others dissect her work.

4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Image: Amazon

Written in epistolary form, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society tells the story of a group of neighbors on the island of Guernsey and their unique resistance to Nazi occupation. Under the guise of a book club, this small cadre manages to survive.

5. People of the Book

by Geraldine Brooks

Image: Amazon

Inspired by the real Sarajevo Haggadah, author Geraldine Brooks weaves a compelling story about this sacred text and the journey from its conception to its eventual rescue during the Bosnia conflict. The voyage of the Haggadah through various eras is captivating.

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6. So Many Books, So Little Time

by Sara Nelson

Image: Amazon

The title alone made me think, This author gets me. And when Nelson sets a goal of reading one book a week for an entire year, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. In So Many Books, So Little Time,Sara Nelson takes us through her journey with humor, honesty and a true love of books and their authors.

7. The End of Your Life Book Club

by Will Schwalbe

Image: Indie Bound

Yes, there is a death at the end of this book, and no, this book is not about dying. Though Schwalbe’s mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, these two book lovers explore life as they make their way through their joint reading list. The End of Your Life Book Club provides insight not only into the books they read but how one can choose to embrace life even in the face of death.

8. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

by Anne Fadiman

Image: Amazon

I fell in love with this collection of essays from the sixth line on the very first page. It was the word miscegenated that captured my heart. (It means mixture of races, though here it was used to describe the blending of a couple’s LP collections.) Fadiman’s delightful pieces are sprinkled with the kind of vocabulary that will make a word lover’s heart sing.

9. My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop

edited by Ronald Rice

Image: Indie Bound

Not only does My Bookstore, a collection of essays, introduce a variety of authors waxing eloquently about their favorite bookstores, but it has essentially provided a route for the perfect road trip. Can you imagine driving across the country and visiting all 84 of these magical places?

10. How Reading Changed My Life

by Anna Quindlen

Image: Indie Bound

How Reading Changed My Life is one very long essay masquerading as a book. With wisdom such as “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read” (Abraham Lincoln) and “Book love… will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live” (Trollope), this mighty tome interweaves personal reflection with titles to add to a reader’s to-be-read pile.

11. Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World

by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

Image: Indie Bound

The first of three memoirs, Used and Rare chronicles the beginnings of the authors’ love affair with book collecting. It is simultaneously informative and charming, and made me want to start haunting my local used bookshops.

Bonus: Literary Listography

by Lisa Nola

Image: Indie Bound

More than 70 list topics challenge the reader in this whimsical and delightfully illustrated volume. Literary Listography is the perfect gift for the book lover in your life.

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