Good Minds Suggest—Carlos Ruiz Zafón's Favorite Books About Books

July, 2012

Carlos Ruiz Zafón Books are precious objects in the gothic world of Spanish novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafón. His elaborate series, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, features a large library of old texts preserved by a secret society and follows the fortunes of the Sempere family, proprietors of a secondhand bookshop in 1950s Barcelona. Beginning with The Shadow of the Wind, an international best-seller translated into more than 50 languages, Zafón then produced the prequel, The Angel's Game. The third installment in the proposed four-book saga, The Prisoner of Heaven, is now available in English. At the Sempere bookshop, an unknown man seeks to buy a rare edition of The Count of Monte Cristo and threatens to reveal a decades-old secret. Zafón shares his favorite books about books.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
"A terrific postmodern Sherlock Holmesian intrigue set in a Benedictine monastery involving serial crime, the Inquisition, the power of knowledge and the written word, those who conspire to control what others think and read, and those who fight to preserve the light and beauty of creation, independent thinking, and reading. Make sure to make it through the slightly harder-to-navigate initial section, and you'll find plenty of rewards once you plunge into the story proper. This is probably one of the best novels of its kind, and [it] offers a lot beyond the purely detectivesque story."


The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
"Allegedly a children's book, but actually a fable for all ages in which the magic of books and reading is illustrated through the wondrous journey of a kid who enters the world of the fabulous book he is reading. Has the scent and the flavor of old-school adventure stories, old bookstores, and a world that today may seem vanished. Delightful, sweet, and wise."


The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
"This deliciously dark and witty novel by my compatriot, the very talented Arturo Pérez-Reverte, is one of the greatest bibliophile mysteries ever. The old book lore is so well built into the plot that you'll find yourself salivating at all the stuff you learn about how books were made. An intrigue with supernatural overtones, haunting chateaus, old cities in Europe riddled with mystery, and a cursed book that may or may not invoke the presence of the Prince of Darkness himself. This is a terrific book and a perfect point of entry into Pérez-Reverte's world."


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
"A fable for our times, a pitch-perfect tale of a future that looks too much like aspects of the present that invites us to think twice or thrice about it. There's an element of elegy for literature, books, for the beauty and importance of the world of the mind that, I believe, could only have been written from the perspective of a very perceptive author born and raised in the U.S. Years ago I used to see the great, late Ray Bradbury around Los Angeles a lot. He did not drive, and you could see him wearing shorts and a kind of safari-like attire at bus stops, in bookstores... A year before his passing I went to a birthday bash a great bookstore in Glendale, Bookfellows, was throwing for him. He was already very old and not in good health, but he had plenty of wit, good humor, and a humanity that, to me, looked like the antidote to half of the world's ills. Take this, and then explore the rest of his oeuvre."


On Writing by Stephen King
"Most readers know the King through his many novels and stories. What not so many know is that he also wrote this little book about the craft of writing and the life of the writer. I believe this is the best book about the subject ever written, not to mention the most entertaining and probably useful. Totally devoid of pretension or snobbery and packed with intelligence, humor, and down-to-earth wisdom, any aspiring, or working, writer should read this and get invaluable lessons from the King. Don't miss."


Atonement by Ian McEwan
"A powerful and beautifully built tale of loss, guilt, and potentially dangerous powers of storytelling. The shaping of reality as a story, the moral dimension of interpreting reality through fiction, and the responsibility of the teller of tales are just a few of the themes explored in this brief and very well-made book, among the best in this author's long career. Typewriters can kill. Find [out] all about it."



Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Stories for Book Lovers



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Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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message 1: by Cary (new)

Cary Excellent list. Thank you! I just finished Haruki Murakami's "1Q84" and loved it. As it is great book about a book, I'd like to recommend it.
-Cary


message 2: by Margaret (new)

Margaret I LOVED Club Dumas, Name of the Rose, On Writing, & Atonement, as well as Zafon's own The Shadow of the Wind. All are wonderful books. The only book I haven't read on this fabulous list is The Neverending Story. Embarrassing, but it's been so many years since I read Fahrenheit 51 that I don't remember it.


message 3: by Joselle (new)

Joselle I have Shadow of the Wind and Angel's Game both on my "On Deck Circle". Since Angel's Game is the prequel, should I read it first? Just wondering....


message 5: by David (new)

David Ivester I enjoyed 84 Charing Cross Road. Also, back when The Da Vinci Code was all the rage I went looking for books that were similar but a little more "literary", and found Codex and The People of the Book; both were great.


message 6: by Diana (new)

Diana I loved On Writing - one of the best books on the subject there is. Just now beginning to read The Shadow of the Wind - am looking forward to it. F451 was recently a reread for me; this book is a timeless classic and should be read by everyone in this digital age. Another great book - Bob Dylan's autobiography - part 1.


message 7: by Judy (new)

Judy I'm pleasantly surprised that I've either read these books or they are on my list to read. Zafon has good taste in books! :-)


message 8: by Sue (new)

Sue Moro Zafon's books are amazing! I can't wait for the next book in the series!


message 9: by Chris (new)

Chris Joselle wrote: "I have Shadow of the Wind and Angel's Game both on my "On Deck Circle". Since Angel's Game is the prequel, should I read it first? Just wondering...."

"They would be stand-alone stories that could be read in any order. I saw them as a Chinese box of stories with four doors of entry, a labyrinth of fictions that could be explored in many directions, entirely or in parts, and that could provide the reader with an additional layer of enjoyment and play. These novels would have a central axis, the idea of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books..." from Zafon on the Angel's Game as seen on Amazon.

I read both and agree in any order, but I did Shadow before Angel's.


message 10: by Sri (new)

Sri Wahyuni that book's great


message 11: by Arien (last edited Jul 11, 2012 08:30PM) (new)

Arien Muñoz The Neverending Story! Carlos, you're great.


message 12: by Iris (new)

Iris I would add Donna Tartt's Secret History, then there's a real page turner in the list


message 13: by Angela (new)

Angela The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly. It's Wizard of Oz meets Grimm's Fairy Tales and a fun read. Also, Zusak's Book Thief.


message 14: by Zee (new)

Zee Great list, though I'm not sure about King's 'On Writing'... didn't really find it so useful in the way of practical techniques creative writer's could implement in their own work.

I'm surprised there's no Borges in the list, since Zafon does draw a lot of inspiration from him. I would add:
'Travels in the Scriptorium' by Paul Auster
'The English Patient' by Michael Ondjaate
'The Paper House' by Carlos Maria Dominguez

All are books about books, writing and writers.


message 15: by Lori (new)

Lori Another book I'd list is *Reading Like a Writer* by Francine Prose.


message 16: by David (new)

David Ivester Lori wrote: "Another book I'd list is *Reading Like a Writer* by Francine Prose."

Great book for writers AND readers.


message 17: by Susanna (new)

Susanna Zafon is amazing. Read him in the original Spanish if you want to really feel his writing. I am so happy to discover the third installment. Looking forward to a delicious experience.


message 18: by Alan (last edited Jul 15, 2012 07:56AM) (new)

Alan Wow, i've read some of these books. I thought Arturo Perez-Reverte was MY secret. I could add 'The Athenian Murders' by Jose Carlos Somoza. The narrator is translating an ancient story of murders in Greece. As the story unfolds he finds hidden messages in the text, which he reveals in footnotes. There are two mysteries for the price of one here. The book won the 2002 CWA MacAllan Gold Dagger Award.


message 19: by Cary (new)

Cary Arturo Perez-Reverte a secret? A poorly kept one!


message 20: by Anne (new)

Anne L Zafon is by far one of my favorite authors. Great recommendations.


message 21: by Richard (new)

Richard The Name of the Rose and Never Ending Story were great movies. I liked the list since I read almost all and loved them. Glad for the tip on Reverte. I hadn't heard of him.


message 22: by Gail (new)

Gail Joselle wrote: "I have Shadow of the Wind and Angel's Game both on my "On Deck Circle". Since Angel's Game is the prequel, should I read it first? Just wondering...."
Joselle, I have read all 3. It doesn't really matter which one you start with. I like Angel's Game best.


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