If you’re an avid reader like myself sometimes it is fun to read books “about” books. There are actually quite a few good ones out there. If you’ve never considered reading a book about a book, here are a few to get you started:
by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
is a book within a book. Within these pages you will find the story of a man and woman who write notes to each other in the margins of an old book. They are trying to solve a mystery regarding the book’s author but their story is told as well. Tucked in the pages are clues and as the reader you get to solve the mystery itself. It can be a bit intimidating to start. Do you read it all at once or do you read the pages first, then the margins? What about the clues? However, the idea behind this book is from the genius mind of J.J. Abrams (LOST, Star Trek, etc.) and entirely worth the effort.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
A Printz Award Honor Book, The Book Thief is a beautiful literary work of Young Adult fiction. Set during WWII, it is narrated by Death and tells the story of a young girl named Liesel who steals forbidden books in Nazi Germany. Liesel learns to read in secret and shares her books with her neighbors and the Jewish man her family is hiding.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
An American Classic, Bradbury’s dystopian novel of a world where the written word is forbidden tells the story of Guy Montag, a fireman whose job is the set fires rather than put them out. Every day he destroys books and the people who own them without a second thought. Then one day he crosses paths with his intriguing neighbor Clarisse. She introduces him to a new way of thinking and the powerful beauty of books, Montag begins to hide books in his home and is eventually discovered.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Set after the Spanish Civil War, The Shadow of the Wind tells the story of Daniel, a book dealer’s son who is dealing with the recent loss of his mother. When he finds the mysterious book, The Shadow of the Wind, he finds a comfort that drives him to find other books by the same author, Julián Carax. As Daniel searches he realizes that someone is destroying every book by Carax. Daniel’s copy may be the only one left and without meaning to, Daniel soon finds himself entangled in a mystery far larger than he could ever imagine.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
A wacky romp of a fantasy novel, The Eyre Affair is set in a 1985 where time travel is prevalent and books come to life. Main character Thursday Next is a Special Operative of literary detection and is soon on the case of missing literary characters. Someone is plucking them from their books and when Jane Eyre is stolen from her pages, Thursday must face one of the most difficult and challenging cases of her career.
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
A charming book about writer Helene Hanff’s correspondence with London bookseller Frank Doell. After initially sending a letter to request a rare book, they begin a friendship that spans the Atlantic and two decades. 84, Charing Cross Road is a collection of their letters detailing the friendship they forged as they wrote back and forth to one another through the Second World War.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Set during China’s Cultural Revolution, two city boys are sent to the country for re-education. While there they meet a local tailor’s daughter whom with they find a hidden trove of western novels translated into Chinese. Rebellion and flirtation keep them moving through this time of their lives. I found this novel charming yet eye-opening to a time in history I knew little about.
What do you think – did we forget your favorite? As an author have you ever written a novel about books and their readers? Do you think there could there be a downside to writing about books? Share with us!