Books about Books are the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich of the literary world – delicious, comforting, and always appropriate.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan The most recent addition to the list is Robin Sloan’s 2012 debut novel about an eccentric bookstore owner and a strange book club. This fun novel set in San Francisco explores the digital and analog divide with humor and creativity.
The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon Starting with The Shadow of the Wind, Zafon places the reader in Barcelona were the aforementioned Cemetery – an underground labyrinth of bookshelves full-to-bursting – looms large against the upheaval of the Spanish Civil War. The other books in the series connect together with minor characters in one becoming major characters in another; still the Cemetery of Forgotten Books remains as a constant touch-point across all the stories.
Booked to Die by John Dunning If you like mysteries, John Dunning’s Bookman series is a fun venture into the world of second-hand books, a surprisingly ripe niche for murder and mayhem. In addition to the whodunnit nature, you’ll learn about what makes one old book very valuable and another just an old book.
“Lord Peter Wimsey” books by Dorothy Sayers Peter Wimsey is the archetypical English gentleman detective and in addition to his life of leisurely solving crimes, he collects Incunabula – books printed before 1501. There are relatively few Incunabula in the United States, but you can see a nice collection of them at the Lilly Library on the campus of Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!) should you find yourself in Bloomington.
The Geographer’s Library by Jon Fasman This fun thriller follows a journalist initially tasked with writing an obituary for a professor at a small college. While researching the professor’s life, he stumbles into a mess of old books, alchemy, and Russian folklore.