Books About Books

I love a good book about books. There’s something comforting about other lives lived in books and knowing that somewhere out there, there are other people who share the same love of reading as me.

Also, I’m always trying to get LA from Waking Up on the Wrong Side of Fifty to add more to her TBR than the 72 books she’s carefully pared it down to, and because I know she enjoys books about books, well…

Here we go.

Lewis Buzbee, a passionate reader, bookshop employee, and book sales representative tells his own story of a lifetime of reading, beginning with his adventures in ordering books through the Weekly Reader in school up through his career in the book industry. The story of his life is intermingled with the history of the bookselling trade, from the Library of Alexandria to the famed Parisian bookshop, Shakespeare & Co.

This brief book is a series of letters between Hanff and the employees at a used bookshop in London. The correspondence began when Hanff could not find the books she wanted in New York City, and so cast her net wider to find what she was looking for. Full of humor, friendship, and books, 84, Charing Cross Road is a must-read for book lovers.

For more than ten years, Nick Hornby wrote a series of articles about the books he bought, the books he actually read, and how silly things like “real life” and football (soccer, to Americans) got between him and reading all the books he wanted to get to. This book is a wonderful, play-by-play account of a reader’s life, including the despair (and/or joy) of knowing that one’s TBR will never come to an end.

While Will’s mother Mary Anne is waiting for her chemotherapy treatment, Will casually asks what she’s been reading. The ensuing conversation tips off a mother/son book club that will help them pass the time in hospital waiting rooms, and help them find a deeper understanding of each other.

After the death of her sister, Sankovitch rushes from one thing to another in an attempt to outrun her grief. But finally, she decides to sit down and work through her grief. To help herself find a way through, she embarks on a reading journey where she’ll read one book each day for a year. Through other lives and experiences, Sankovitch finds advice and hope in the pages of books.

Anne Fadiman is a hopeless reader. One of her favorite gifts from her husband was nineteen pounds of dusty books, and she once read the owner’s manual for her roommate’s 1974 Toyota Corolla because it was the only thing in the house she hadn’t already read twice. In this collection of essays, Fadiman reflects on a lifetime spent in books, from a childhood spent using her father’s books as building blocks to finally considering herself married when she and her husband at last combined their individual libraries into one collection.

In early 2020, David Damrosch was planning a tour of the world to promote international books. He was going to follow in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg, the fictional traveler of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. But when the Covid-19 pandemic began shutting everything down, Damrosch’s plans were in tatters. But instead of giving it up entirely, Damrosch turned to the internet and wrote about the world literature he loved, choosing 80 books that he and his online followers would explore over the course of weeks. The book is the result of that virtual journey.

In 2002, Nadia Wassef, her sister, and their friend decided to do a thing no one thought they could do: open a modern bookstore in Cairo. People said that women couldn’t do it, that no one in Cairo read books anymore, that it wasn’t worth their effort. But the women persisted and over more than a decade and with an unimaginable amount of work, they were more successful than anyone thought possible. Though she has since departed the business she helped creature, Nadia Wassef still loves Diwan, the chain of bookstores she helped to bring into existence.

As the owner of Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. With more than 100,000 books on a mile of shelving, the Bookshop seems like a reader’s paradise. But the retail life is neither easy nor straightforward, and it’s often completely bizarre. A compilation of wry journal entries made over the course of a year, The Diary of a Bookseller shows that a bookseller’s life is often as thankful as it is rewarding, and will give readers a new perspective on the business of bookselling.

9 thoughts on “Books About Books

  1. Great topic! I’ve been enjoying my very slow exploration of Around the World in 80 Books, so thanks for letting me know about that one. I love the title and subtitle of Ten Years in the Tub, too funny. And The End of Your Life Book Club? Wow, that sounds powerful. I really hope it lives up to the title and description, it could be a great read, certainly one I’d consider trying.

  2. Thanks for this. I enjoy reading books and books too. I have a few of these on my TBR, but will add some, like Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books.

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