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Readers Advisory Corner > Books on books

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message 1: by Maria (new)

Maria | 159 comments Mod
Happy National Novel Writing Month! Anyone else doing Nanowrimo?

Like many a bookworm, I love reading books about writers, librarians, bookstores. Books about books, basically. I'm sure I'm not the only one!

My favorite novel about a writer is Anita Brookner's Look At Me, about an introspective librarian and aspiring writer who is torn between her interior and exterior worlds. It is really angsty and full of quotes like this:
“It was then that I saw the business of writing for what it truly was and is to me. It is your penance for not being lucky. It is an attempt to reach others and to make them love you. It is your instinctive protest, when you find you have no voice at the world's tribunals, and that no one will speak for you. I would give my entire output of words, past, present and to come, in exchange for easier access to the world, for permission to state "I hurt" or " I hate" or " I want". Or indeed, "Look at me". And I do not go back on this. For once a thing is known it can never be unknown. It can only be forgotten. And writing is the enemy of forgetfulness, or thoughtlessness. For the writer there is no oblivion. Only endless memory.” It also has Great Gatsby vibes. It's amazing.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is the Real Murders series by Charlaine Harris of Sookie Stackhouse fame. Silly small town librarian solving murders- what's not to love?

Do you have any favorite books about the literary life?


message 2: by Tony (new)

Tony | 45 comments That's funny -- I tend to hate fiction about writers and the writing life.


message 3: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie (abrakebarbara) | 17 comments Anyone else read The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai and find it terrifyingly plausible?


message 4: by Elsbeth (new)

Elsbeth (elsbethatthelibrary) | 7 comments I never read The Borrower but I know the premise and yes, I can see good intentions going wrong in that way.

I love books about books! Right now I'm reading London Fields by Martin Amis and really like it. It is about a writer who got the idea for his story from a real-life murder situation that he apparently witnessed. Completely unreliable narrator which is also a trick that I love to see in books.


message 5: by Maria (new)

Maria | 159 comments Mod
Phew, I was starting to think I was all alone in my meta-bibliophilia.

And Elsbeth, I also love unreliable narrators! I just finished Lolita and Humbert Humbert was so amazingly deceitful -- you had to read between the lines of almost every single thing he said.

Is The Borrower worth reading? I was going to but I wondered if it was a little saccharine.

A coworker just recommended Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere and it looks really fun. I'll report back on it.


message 6: by Kate (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments When I first saw this topic I thought, "Yes, that's me! I love books about books!" But then when I actually went back and looked at my list of read books, there weren't that many. There are a few authors I like who frequently write about writers (Paul Auster, Ian McEwan, A.S. Byatt), but I think I mostly like to buy non-fiction books about books and then page through them (Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, Imagining Characters: Six Conversations About Women Writers: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eli ot, Willa Cather, Iris Murdoch, and Toni Morrison, The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder). Two that I've actually read all the way through and really enjoyed are The Polysyllabic Spree: A Hilarious and True Account of One Man's Struggle With the Monthly Tide of the Books He's Bought and the Books He's Been Meaning to Read and 84, Charing Cross Road.


message 7: by Laura (new)

Laura Gentile | 1 comments thanks for sharing, Kate -- great list!


message 8: by Maria (new)

Maria | 159 comments Mod
Yes,thanks Kate! I like those kinds of bibliographic books too! Although I found some well-regarded ones very disappointing, such as Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader which, despite the title, seemed kind of snobby. Also, super unpopular opinion here, but I don't really like the Book Lust series by Nancy Pearl. The concept is fun, but I've never been able to find what I am looking for in them.

We just got a book in today called Books to Die For which features essays by today's most popular mystery writers on mystery novels of the past and present. It looks really good, especially for mystery fans.


message 9: by Elsbeth (new)

Elsbeth (elsbethatthelibrary) | 7 comments I really liked A History of Reading. I had to read it for a class on the history of the book, but actually read the whole thing.


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