Top Ten Books About Books

“No one who writes a good book is really dead.”

Walter Moers

In honour of World Book Night 2014 (because the idea is sound, even if the execution annoys me intensely), here are ten books about books and reading and all associated awesomeness.

  1. The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova. A family goes on a sort of literary treasure-hunt, except that the treasure is Dracula and the hunt takes place over a whole continent. LIBRARIES and VAMPIRES, people.
  2. The Crying of Lot 49– Thomas Pynchon. Really extremely paranoid, and full of ideas about the post and what happens when you read a book and other excitingly lovely things. Weird, but awesome.
  3. Special Topics in Calamity Physics –  Marisha Pessl. NOT (as I have to keep explaining to people) A PHYSICS BOOK, but another Murder Mystery-type literary hunt featuring all kinds of classic novels and a protagonist who loves to read.
  4. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke. I actually wanted to be Meggie, the bookworm protagonist of Inkheart, when I was younger. It’s a fascinating story about the power of words and of stories, for good and for bad.
  5. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen. What happens when you read too many Gothic novels? Northanger Abbey does.
  6. The Book ThiefMarkus Zusak. Books save lives, says Zusak, and tells us how through his thieving protagonist Liesel. It’s also really sad.
  7. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury. A chillingly believable account of what happens when a society decides, collectively, not to think about anything important any more. The worst thing? It looks like it’s happening, to us, right now.
  8. Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov. Ha! An academic writes a long and digressive commentary on a friend’s poem, and reveals far too much about himself in the process. A novel about what we do when we read, and write about what we’ve read, and how sinister reading and writing can become. (Beware: may turn your brain inside out.)
  9. A Novel Bookstore – Laurence Cosse. Why doesn’t this bookshop exist? Why? Someone please make it happen!
  10. The Princess Bride – William Golding. I’m counting this one because it’s a satire on…well, something about writing, that’s for sure. Kind of like a modern Don Quixote with snappier quotes.

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