Top 5: Books about books

books about books

As a book lover, books that revolve around the subject of books hold a special kind of fascination for me, so this week I’ve pulled together a list of some of my favourite books about books. These are all totally different, but although each one is unique, they all share one things – books in some form are a central part of the story. They’re all great reads and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any and all of them! I’ve also linked back to my reviews of these books on this blog where I can.

  1. Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz

Summary: When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She’s worked with the revered crime writer for years, and his detective, Atticus Pund, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It’s just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway….

But Conway’s latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but hidden in the pages of the manuscript there lies another story: a tale written between the very words on the page, telling of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder.

Read my review here.

  1. The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman

Summary: Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

  1. The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly

Summary: ‘Once upon a time, there was a boy who lost his mother . . .’ As twelve-year-old David takes refuge from his grief in the myths and fairytales so beloved of his dead mother, he finds the real world and the fantasy world begin to blend. That is when bad things start to happen. That is when the Crooked Man comes. And David is violently propelled into a land populated by heroes, wolves and monsters, his quest to find the legendary Book of Lost Things.

Read my review here.

  1. Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan

Summary: Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone – and serendipity, coupled with sheer curiosity, has landed him a new job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead they simply borrow impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra.

The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behaviour and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore…

Read my review here.

  1. The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Summary: Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the ‘cemetery of lost books’, a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out ‘La Sombra del Viento’ by Julian Carax. But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find.

Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from La Sombra del Viento, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax’s work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind. A page-turning exploration of obsession in literature and love, and the places that obsession can lead.

 

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John Connolly’s ‘The Book of Lost Things’

It’s this middle of World War II, and confined to a country house with his new stepmother and even newer younger brother, David is full of hurt, anger and jealousy. In his attic room, he seeks comfort in a collection of old books. As he becomes consumed with the world between their pages, David starts to feel a strange affinity to the boy who lived in his room before.

the-book-of-lost-thingsWhen the events of one fateful day conspire, David finds himself in a place where nothing is as it seems, struggling to find a way to get home in a strange, threatening kingdom of twisted fairytales. His path is peppered with obstacles, and he is forced to face his innermost fears, overcome death and battle his nightmares before he can finally come face to face with an aging king who seems destined to lead the kingdom into ruin.

The Book of Lost Things is essentially a fairytale – but it’s certainly not a fairytale you’d want to read to small children at night. Bringing in elements of a whole host of different stories, Connolly twists and manipulates narratives for his own purposes, spinning motives and intentions and traditional plotlines into an intricate web of characters and incidents.

In fact, the author builds a whole new world with such rich detail and flair that I almost started to believe in its existence myself. The Crooked Man really was scary, a truly brilliant villain with wicked intentions. The truth, when it was finally revealed, was as terrifying as any nightmare come to life in the darkness. This is not a book where everyone has a happy ending. All of the characters we come across, from the Woodcutter to Snow White, have been given their own jaded and fractured back-stories that have been woven perfectly into the fabric of the narrative.

Ultimately, it’s the perfect book for anyone looking for a dose of escapism or pure fantasy with a twist. It’s spooky and mesmerising, and it takes a completely different direction to anything else out there.