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The City of Dreaming Books

(Zamonien #4)

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  16,424 ratings  ·  1,317 reviews
The author of 13 1⁄2 Lives of Captain Bluebear transports us to a magical world. Optimus Yarnspinner finds himself marooned in the subterranean world of Bookholm, the City of Dreaming Books, where reading can be dangerous, where ruthless Bookhunters fight to the death.

Optimus Yarnspinner, a young writer, inherits from his beloved godfather an unpublished short story by an
Paperback, 461 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Vintage (first published September 9th 2004)
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Dawnie i don't think that it matters in which order you read this book. I personally only read this one and loved it. They are all individual books with comp…morei don't think that it matters in which order you read this book. I personally only read this one and loved it. They are all individual books with completely separate stories. I think the only similarity that all the books of this series have in common is that they are fantasy. (less)
Ine I'd say fantasy. When I found this book at the library I thought "huh, a children's book? But this is the adult fantasy shelf?"

And don't be fooled
I'd say fantasy. When I found this book at the library I thought "huh, a children's book? But this is the adult fantasy shelf?"

And don't be fooled
by the pictures on the inside, this book gets dark! People (there are no humans, only fantasy creatures. But still....people) get eaten or worse.... It's not graphic really, but still somewhat spooky since most of the book takes place in a large cavern system.(less)

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Average rating 4.37  · 
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Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rozalia by: Valeria
I know this is going to sound really silly, but this is the best book I've ever read. Please don't get distracted by all the illustrations and the fact that this is a fantasy novel; it is a timeless, mindblowing, deeply moving masterpiece filled with beautiful imaginary worlds and superior writing. It's a beautiful novel for people who love books and adventures, for daydreamers, idealists, optimists, people who haven't lost their hope, but also for pessimists and people with depression because ...more
Jul 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
What it Is

Walter Moers (and his excellent translator, John Brownjohn) love language, and that love permeates ever page, many times. Consequently, the book is a comic hymn to the power, beauty and fun of words, along with a more cautious love of books (which can provoke, or even be, evil). The books of the title are dreaming of being read, because that's what brings them to life.

Story and Setting

Optimus Yarnspinner comes from a city of authors and travels to Bookholm, a city of bookshops, trying
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
what an amazing novel! ridiculous, irreverant, hilarious, philisophical, snuggly, informative, and many other ives that are positive. i don't want to spoil it, as if anyone could, for folks, so i'll just say this; a three foot tall dinosaur travels to said city in possession of a manuscript, and in search of its author, and manages to re-write the history of Zamonian literature. and foil a nefarious scheme.
GO FORTH AND READ THIS WONDERFUL NOVEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i dunno - this book isnt as cute/clever as it thinks it is. maybe if i were one of the adults-who-read-harry-potter, i would have a better understanding of it, but as it happens, i am not. i expected something more book-dorky, but it was just like reading a childrens adventure story. meh.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: book lovers and authors ready for an odd, imaginative adventure with a dinosaur narrator!
I reached the end of this tale with such mixed feelings. There were times when I felt that the book would never end and I was so very bored. There were other times when I drank up every word as if it were ambrosia, and I wanted the spirit of the book to shine through my every waking hour. Overall, the outstanding moments of imagination and muse far outweighed the plodding aspects of yet another odd-and-dangerous creature encounter or one more night (or was it day? one can never really tell) in t ...more
Aug 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The City of Dreaming Books by German author Walter Moers is one of my all time favorite books. Since the original is written in German, and my German knowledge is minimal, I read the Dutch translation. I tried to look up all the names from the English translation, so everything should be clear, but translations in different languages can always be confusing.

The Story

The City of Dreaming Books tells the tale of Optimus Yarnspinner, an aspiring writer, who inherits his godfather’s possessions and
Paige (Enchantology)
This is one of the most charming and delightful books I've ever read. Highly recommend to anyone who loves books, as they're really the heart of this story - both in terms of reading and writing them. I found myself smiling while reading most of this because it's just such a joy. This will definitely be one I need to reread as it's full of quotes I wish I'd taken the time to write down the first time but was too focused on continuing reading to do so. ...more
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, this is another one of those books I initially wanted to reread in 2020 because I never wrote a proper review for it but 2020 has different plans for me, so I'm writing a review without having reread it. The last time I read this book through was 2013 (and I adored it back then) and then last year, I already tried rereading it but didn't make it past page 50... so, love that for me.

Die Stadt der Träumenden Bücher is a fantasy novel by Walter Moers from 2004, which plays in the fictional kin
Someday I have to reread this gorgeous book and write a review. This review will be probably more a declaration of love than a review to be honest.

REREAD IN 02/2021:
<3 <3 <3
This is still my favorite book.

I seriously cannot imagine a more groundbreaking and heart-wrenching love letter to literature itself.
Hildegunst von Mythenmetz (which I'm pretty sure is called Optimus Yarnspinner in the english translation) may not be the most interesting character on his own but I adore the journey he went t
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the wittiest book I have read in a long time. A bibliophile's dream come true. It's full of wordplay and allusions to many classic works of literature, except that the references are slightly askew to fit into this novel's realm. I love that the famous authors in this story are often anagrams of well-known bards of the "real" world. The author is also kind enough to provide his own illustrations of his world. Literate dinosaurs, fearsome booklings, wicked literary agents and a Shadow Kin ...more
Michelle F
I want so much to write a perfect review for this ridiculous novel because it is truly magical. I've not been this joyously captivated in a long time.

The City of Dreaming Books is light and silly and adventurous and fun. The writing is perfectly, charmingly engrossing, and the translation is amazing. I can't quite tell who the intended audience is, but it doesn't matter. It is an imaginative marvel. Indeed, even with the help of the whimsical illustrations, I had to pause and close my eyes every
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A MUST for all book lovers!!!!
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Review originally posted here.

I've been trying to write a review of this book since I finished it almost a month ago, but haven't been able to find the words.  Instead of a review, you're going to get a series of thoughts.  I can't guarantee I'll make sense, but I hope at the end at least one of you will feel encouraged to pick it up.

The City of Dreaming Books is the fourth book in Walter Moers' Zamonia series, but first in the Dreaming Books series.  I know, it's a little confusing, but I figur
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Fantastic. I'm in literary love. This was the first book by Walter Moers that I read but will definitely not be the last. I have rarely loved and adored a book as much as this one.

The ultimate book for any booklovers with a sense of humour and a love for good, exciting stories. "The City of Dreaming Books" tells the story of Hildegunst von Mythenmetz (called Optimus Yarnspinner in the English translation, but I read a Finnish translation which kept the original German name of the protagonist) wh
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is now official, I have a new favorite author and series. Having been totally blown away from Moers first two books set in the mythical lost continent of Zamonia my expectations was high for more madcap calamity in the land of living books. Tee-hee this was such an awesome read. Narrated by trepid adventurer Optimus Yarnspinner, he describes his perilous journey to find the identity of the author of a manuscript that is the most accomplished Zamonian writing ever put to paper. Traveling to Bo ...more
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
The City of Dreaming Books is by far my favorite book from a german author. I have read the original german edition Die Stadt der träumenden Bücher at a time in my life when I had a kind of reading slump. This book recovered my passion to read books and it established a love for my native language German I have never experienced before. Walter Moers is a master wordsmith and I considered it untranslatable until I recently came across the english edition translated by John Brownjohn. The translat ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
For those of you who have thoroughly jumped on the e-book bandwagon and can no longer remember the pleasures of books as physical objects: this one is not for you. The City of Dreaming Books is nothing if not a paean to bibliophilia:

It's as if you've opened the door of a gigantic second-hand bookshop - as if you've stirred up a cloud of unadulterated book dust and blown the detritus from millions of mouldering volumes straight into your face. There are folks who dislike that smell and turn on th
Do you love reading? Do you love fantasy worlds? And do you love books? In that case, this book is for you. It's the story of a dinosaur who goes to a city where everything, and I mean everything, has to do with books. The newspaper Die Welt has called this a love declaration for literature, and in that, the critic was quite correct. I'm a bit hestitant to talk about the book or its fantasy world, because I don't want to spoil anything! But in short: the city of Buchhaim is a city full of books, ...more
Wow! Amazing! Mindblowing! A true masterpiece! I've never read anything by Walter Moers. Walter Moers was in a way recommended to me (elsewhere) last year when I was asking for German books (by German authors, of course) (Fantasy/SF/Historical Fiction - see here - feel free to add books), but back then I thought his books were part of a series, which one had to read in order and I didn't/don't want that, because my German isn't as fluent (yet) as my English, even though I'm at level B1.

Anyway, l
This is the audio version, 14 CDs, of this excellent book. It's read by the late and acclaimed Dirk Bach, who really knows how to make a story more lively through his voice. It's a different approach to reading the story oneself and therefore, at least to me, a little less good, but still very entertaining.

Less good because he gives a different kind of voice to e.g. der Schattenkönig aka Homunkoloss than I had in mind. It's trivial things, of course, but they are vital when dealing with such a w
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first saw this book, I was on a city trip to Berlin. I needed some time for myself, and had the need for an escape from my everyday student life. At first the cover awakened my attention, a book with books on it. How wonderful! (Especially if you really-really-really, are into books) and the title makes it even better.
But then I wouldn’t buy it at first. Walter Moors has also written "The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear", and as every other German I do associate this with children’s stories
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The City of Dreaming Books is delightfully whimsical, crammed full of ideas that practically want to burst out of the pages, and it’s all about books and writing and the love of reading. There’s so much going on — so much humour, so much inventiveness — and it’s all supplemented by the illustrations. I was a little worried after reading a synopsis of one of Moers’ other books (which is apparently in the same world, though this one stands alone) that it’d be too childish, but it didn’t feel that ...more
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I did not enjoy this journey as much as the first two. I wasn’t as attached to the main character, way more interested in a character that appeared towards the end of the story. I did however love the theme, BOOKS!! A world that almost completely consists of books is a world that I want to live in. Well except for the meal option, book worms. I pictured big ol’ maggots and grubs every time I came across the word. BLECH!!

This author is gifted. I can only imagine what kind of imagination he has. I
The Bursting Bookshelf of a Wallflower
4 stars!

I've heard a lot about Walter Moers, but I was never sure if his books would really be for me. When I found this one in a Second Hand store, I decided to give it a chance and I felt quite well entertained. Some parts were a little bit too long/boring, but all in all, a highly interesting and unusual read.
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I… don’t know how to describe it. The cover compared the author to J.K. Rowling, Douglas Adams, Shel Silverstein, Monty Python and Terry Pratchett so how could I resist? But it started out strangely, so strangely that I wondered if this was an adult or young adult book, and then I thought it was a children's book and then changed my mind again, because it teetered back and forth.

Then there were the illustrations. They were black and white and looked like a cross between Sandra Boynton and Edward
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-humor
There is something about the books you own. There is a sense to them. You can tell what they are simply by touch. Possession feels physically different than The Forgotten Garden. They even smell different.

If you know, extactly what I am talking about, then this book is for you.

Moers tells the story of Yarnspinner and his search for the writer of the most perfect thing he has ever read. This quest takes him to Bookholm and then to places far more dangerous. Along the way, Moers examines the place
This book dragged for me. I wanted to love it: a book about books! Sounded right up my alley, but nope. The characters are anthropomorphized dinosaurs, which required quite the suspension of disbelief, and even had the writing been any better, I’m not a fan of that style choice. Sometimes it works; mostly it just doesn’t.

Found out too late that this is the fourth book in a series, which may be the reason for my overall confusion, or it just may lie in the translation, the childish illustrations
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To begin, this novel is a zany, original journey into an EXTREMELY imaginative world of books. It really is very good from beginning to end and is enhanced with excellent illustrations to help the reader visualize the unique characters and surroundings. The protagonist, Optimus Yarnspinner is an absolute delight; humble, practical and real (even though he is a literal dinosaur). My only caution about this book is this: be prepared for an extended read. This was not a book I was able to fly throu ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Nov 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Fantasy, fans of books!
Recommended to Shannon (Giraffe Days) by: Maria Elmvang
Shelves: 2010, fantasy

A few years ago I bought a copy of Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures, and even though I still haven't read it it brought Moers into my field of vision, with various online friends gushing about his books. I was thrilled to find a copy of The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear in one of my second-hand bookshops, but it was this one, The City of Dreaming Books, that I ended up reading first. I started reading it in December ... seven months later, I finally finished it. Why it took me so long to read
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is the third Zamonia book by Walter Moers that I've read. To say that he has a vivid imagination would be a considerable understatement! However I really enjoyed this one very much.

I've not read anything else quite like this series so it isn't easy to summarise the completely odd world he has created. If the idea of it appeals to you do try one out. Any of them can be read as standalone books of the 3 I've read so far. In passing the translator deserves credit too. 4.5/5 I think.

However I
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Walter Moers was born in 1957 and is a writer, cartoonist, painter and sculptor. He has refused to be photographed ever since his comic strips The Little Asshole and Adolf were published, the latter leading him to be declared persona non grata by the political right in Germany. Walter Moers lives in Hamburg.

Other books in the series

Zamonien (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear (Zamonia, #1)
  • Ensel und Krete. Ein Märchen aus Zamonien (Zamonien, #2)
  • Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures (Zamonia, #3)
  • Der Schrecksenmeister (Zamonien, #5)
  • Zamonien. Entdeckungsreise durch einen phantastischen Kontinent. Von A wie Anagrom Ataf bis Z wie Zamomin
  • Das Labyrinth der Träumenden Bücher (Zamonien, #6)
  • Prinzessin Insomnia & der alptraumfarbene Nachtmahr (Zamonien, #7)
  • Weihnachten auf der Lindwurmfeste
  • Der Bücherdrache (Zamonien)
  • Die Insel der Tausend Leuchttürme (Zamonien, #10)

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