Books about books, bookstores and writing
Fun, suspenseful, informative, comforting and heartwarming
A big thanks to Mel and Dave at Strong Sense of Place for giving my newsletter a shoutout in their weekly Endnotes. They are such kind and generous people, and I love their platform and their podcast. If you don’t know who Mel and Dave are, check out their website, podcast, and Instagram account. Welcome, new subscribers; I appreciate you. Now, on to books and more books.
I discovered a few years back that I love to read books set in libraries, books about books, books about librarians, and books about writing those books. There are hundreds of books that fit this category, too many for one newsletter. Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed and maybe you will too.
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore follows Lydia as she tries to solve the mystery at the Bright Ideas bookstore where she works as a clerk. One of the bookstore’s daily patrons kills himself upstairs in the bookstore and leaves her all his worldly possessions (not many), and Lydia tries to unravel the mystery of his death. Lots of books and literary references in this mystery; it’s best not to know too much about the plot going in. There are a few gruesome scenes, and it does deal with suicide, but if you can get past those, it’s a worthwhile read.
The Lions of Fifth Avenue follows Sadie Donavan at her New York Public Library job as a curator of the famous Berg Collection. When rare books and manuscripts go missing, it leads Sadie back to her grandmother, Laura Lyons, and her family heritage of a previous theft having many of the same characteristics of recent events. Fiona Davis writes about famous buildings in New York, all written in a dual timeline format which I enjoy. I just adored this book and all the references to the library, both past and present.
The End of Your Life Book Club follows Will Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Anne, as they form their “book club” that takes them through her cancer journey and, ultimately, her death from pancreatic cancer. They discuss books, their own lives, faith, connections with each other and others, and everyday things that bring a mother and son together. Schwalbe learns about his mother in ways that only her impending death could reveal. This book is tough to read in places, but overall, so loving and heartwarming throughout. One of my favorite books ever.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is one of the most famous and well-written books on the craft of writing. When I think of Stephen King, I think of all the horror books he has written that I have never read. In this book, he writes stories about his life and wraps those in specific lessons about characters, storytelling, and lessons learned both in life and writing. When someone told me he wrote a book on the craft of writing, I didn’t believe them; it didn’t seem possible. I searched for the book, and it popped up one day in an e-book deal. I bought it, and it sat for a couple of years until I stumbled across it in my Kindle library. Part memoir and part lessons on what it takes to be a writer, I devoured this book in a couple of sittings.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is about a man who feels lost since his wife died, his bookstore is barely holding on, and if that isn’t bad enough, rare books have gone missing. A mysterious package arrives at the bookstore that gives him a reason to see everything in a different light. Follow along with the characters, and you will find yourself laughing, crying, amused, and wanting to keep reading until you are finished. I think for some, this may be the book they needed to read at this moment in time.
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is a narrative non-fiction book I read for one of my postal book clubs. Allison Hoover Bartlett writes about John Gilkey, an obsessed book thief who steals rare books from all over town and eludes the police and a famous book dealer, Ken Sanders. Sanders has the skill to find the rare books that have been stolen, and his knowledge takes Bartlett on a journey into the dangerous world of stolen books. I learned so many things I didn’t know that I wanted to know anything about; books that do this are some of my favorite books to read.
One of the best things about reading books about books, libraries, and writing is that you usually come away with many things you didn’t already know. The icing on the cake is the stack of titles to add to your TBR mentioned in the books you just read. I hope this list gives you a few books to satisfy your desire to read about books and more books. Happy reading!