Books About Books

There’s nothing a book lover enjoys more than a good book about books! As a book lover, the books below are ones that made me feel like I was at home. Talking or reading about books is like a beautiful sigh of contentment when you know that you are in a place of belonging and a place of acceptance with other readers.
The following books are some of the few that I’ve read that make me know I’m in the presence of another reader. The authors of these books know what it means to fall in love with a book, to consider book characters best friends, and to lose oneself in the pages of a book.
Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind by Alan Jacobs – This book feels like a conversation between readers. Alan Jacobs’ premise is that it’s important for readers to take the time and put in the work to read “old” books. Old books take readers outside of their own time, culture, and biases in order to let them see the world through the experiences and lives of others. Each and every culture and time period had their own weaknesses and biases . . . and since they are different from the biases of our own culture, readers are much quicker to see and identify them. They’re then able to bring an understanding from the past to bear on their own personal experiences in the present. “I want to argue that you can’t understand the place and time you’re in by immersion; the opposite’s true. You have to step out and away and back and forward, and you have to do it regularly. Then you come back to the here and now, and say: Ah. That’s how it is . . . It is a profound struggle to overcome the gravitational pull of the moment, to achieve escape velocity from presentism.”
Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson – “But another aspect of shared reading is the way it teaches us to look beyond our own view of the world. Reading changes our consciousness on the most personal level by challenging us to consider the way someone else might experience life, and this is where compassion often begins.”
Book Love by Debra Tung – This is a book of comics that perfectly captures what it means to be a book lover. Debra Tung knows what it means to read books, to enjoy the experience, to smell new books (or old books), and to read books with others. This book will make readers go, “Ah, you too! You love books.”
An Experiment in Criticism by C. S. Lewis – “No poem will ever give up its secret to a reader who enters it regarding the poet as a potential deceiver, and determined not to be taken in. We must risk being taken in, if we are to get anything. The best safeguard against bad literature is a full experience of good; just as a real and affectionate acquaintance with honest people gives a better protection against rogues than a habitual distrust of everyone.”
The Library Book by Susan Orlean – This book is an absolute delight! The book centers around the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library. I went into this book expecting the story to be only about the fire and the investigation surrounding the fire. However, Susan Orlean goes much deeper than that and researches libraries and the L.A. Public Library in particular. She covers the history of the formation of the L.A. Public Library as well as the many men and women who were foundational in establishing the library. This may sound like a dry history . . . but Susan Orlean makes it all sound interesting.
How the Heather Looks by Joan Bodger – This book is a reader’s dream. Imagine visiting England and going to look for all the places and locations where your favorite books were set and where the characters you love lived. That’s exactly what the Bodger family does. Their family of four go to England and spend their holiday exploring all of their favorite literary places. “…since the last time I told it, and since the last time you heard it, the earth’s gone ’round the sun, the rain’s fallen into the brook, and the brook’s run into the river. Even if you’ve heard the story before, even if I tell it word for word just like the first time, you’ve changed and I’ve changed and the story will change.”

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