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Jul 27, 2006, 11:11 am

If I understand the concept correctly, how about From the Realm of Morpheus by the great Steven Milhauser. He had a library of lost books just like this. It had the full texts of all "fictional" books that were casually referenced by a real work.

Jul 27, 2006, 11:16 am

You might want to look at the user Neil_Artikel's library. :)

3rfb First Message
Jul 27, 2006, 1:10 pm

Borges wrote a lot about imaginary books. Joyce also mentiones quite a number of books in Ulysses (all of them summed up in chapter 17).

Jul 27, 2006, 4:32 pm

And Jasper Fforde ;-)

Jul 27, 2006, 6:13 pm

I see that The Seville Communion by Arturo Perez-Reverte has made our Most Commonly Shared list. Another of his books, The Club Dumas, is one of my favorite book about books (and one of my favorite fiction books, period). Unfortunately, I can't find my copy at the moment but he combines the story of two books (well, one is a manuscript) into a fascinating book-based mystery.

Jul 27, 2006, 6:23 pm

PDeebs, I agree. I'm a big fan of Perez-Reverte as well, and Club Dumas is definitely one of my favorites.

Jul 27, 2006, 6:45 pm

I've just finished reading The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow which fits in this groups remit extremely well - and is an excellent read.

Jul 27, 2006, 8:07 pm

I'm in the middle of the book The Club Dumas, and I was really excited to read it, when I found it on the shelf. I've been recently distracted by Beyond the Sacred Page by Jack Cavanaugh, but I will eventually finish The Club Dumas. From the reviews I've read, it's a really good read. It started to lose my interest in the middle, but hopefully, it will get my intrigue back!

Jul 28, 2006, 1:42 am

I'd like to recommend The City of Dreaming Books (Die Stadt der träumenden Bücher) by Walter Moers

Jul 28, 2006, 5:44 am

Thank you Anke. I was just about to do the same thing. I just finished it last week and it is one of the funniest and most intelligent German books I've read in a while.

Jul 28, 2006, 6:12 am

Another fan of Arturo Perez-Revertes here.
I enjoyed a lot those two books (The Seville Communion and The Club Dumas) but because i like a lot books that talk about art i also enjoeyd The Flandres Pannel.
I am 'discovering' some interesting spanish writers lately. The Shadow of the Wind was a very good surprise and there is another one that i found very, very good too. It was not about books but it was a very nice read: Iacobus, by Matilde Asensi.

12wewerefiction First Message
Jul 29, 2006, 1:55 pm

Has anyone read either The Poe Shadow or The Dante Club? I'd be interested in knowing opinions on these books (both by Matthew Pearl).

Jul 29, 2006, 7:51 pm

Hi, amateras. I've read both the Matthew Pearl books, and in my opinion The Dante Club is the better book. The premise of The Poe Shadow is fascinating, but I found myself pulled out of the story by abrupt changes in focus and plot devices that made no sense at all. I thought that it read as if parts of the story had been edited out or skipped completely and the resulting "holes" were impossible to ignore. My opinion only, of course, and I'd be interested in hearing from people who enjoyed it.

Jul 29, 2006, 9:36 pm

amateras, I agree with PDeebs - while both are good, I was totally enthralled by The Dante Club and only mildly so by The Poe Shadow. I'd certainly recommend both though, they're very interesting. The thing I really enjoyed about Poe Shadow was the archival work that Pearl did with it; the novel contains much previously unpublished information which is also to be issued later this year in a scholarly journal (though I can't remember which).

Aug 2, 2006, 8:55 am

I think another book that qualifies is The Book Thief. And the children's fantasy fiction Inkheart and Inkspell, both of which transport characters into a book's world, and have each chapter start with a quote from different books.

I LOVE The Shadow of the Wind and have had The Club Dumas on my wish list for a while, but haven't gotten around to it yet- like so many others!

Aug 4, 2006, 5:45 pm

I just discovered this little neat book at the store today that I absolutely had to get. Of course. It's called Bibliotopia by Gilbar and contains all sorts of interesting, funny facts and lists about books. Also really entertaining to just browse through.

Aug 8, 2006, 9:12 am

I also loved Shadow of the Wind, next on my list is The Book Thief, I have heard so many good thing about this book.

Edited: Aug 13, 2006, 10:27 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 3, 2006, 1:47 pm

I have a new one to add to this board--Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I picked up this book last week after seeing it recommended highly on another LT board. I'm almost halfway through and am enjoying it immensely. It's a story narrated by a very well educated young girl, the daughter of an eccentric university professor. She makes many, many references to books; many also very obscure--at least to this reader. I think that members of this message board should add this book to your "to be read" books if it isn't there already!

Edited: Sep 17, 2006, 2:13 am

I recommend Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores, a collection of fantasy/sci-fi short stories that take place in or involve bookstores. Stories range from fairy tales to space travel to bookstore hell.

Mostly fine writing, with a couple of clunkers and one entry that someone apparently forgot to edit, but overall, a good read for a book lover/collector who enjoys a little bit of the fantastic in a story.

Don't confuse this with Suzanne Strempek Shea's Shelf Life : romance, mystery..., which may be a good one for this list, but I've never read it.


Sep 21, 2006, 5:09 pm

i would add Elias Canetti Auto-de-Fe- a tale about a man consumed by his love of books.

Sep 21, 2006, 10:07 pm

What about The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco? After all, the crime takes place in the library and through a book, doesn't it?

Sep 23, 2006, 5:12 pm

Actually, in The Name of the Rose, the crime takes place in the scriptorium, where the monks copy books. However, much of the solution of the crime does involve clues in and about the library and the books therein.

Sep 23, 2006, 9:46 pm

You are right, kingcvcnc (shame on me!) only excuse is that I read it soooo many years ago that I have forgotten a few things about it. Sorry......

Sep 25, 2006, 1:33 pm

It's easy for me...I work in a bookstore where the entire inventory is available for employee borrowing.

Sep 25, 2006, 6:07 pm

What a lucky one you are, kingcvcnc!!!!!

Sep 26, 2006, 1:09 am

How about Like A Hole in the Head by Jen Banbury ?
It is a mystery involving a rare book and a woman who works at a used book store called The Bitter Muse. It was entertaining and I think I learned a bit about rare books.

Oct 25, 2006, 7:39 am

what about The Hobbit? Bilbo writes it in The Lord of the Rings, doesn't he?
BTW, the hobbit was far superior to LOTR

29railroadbum First Message
Edited: Oct 29, 2006, 8:56 pm

The Haunted Bookshop by Christophere Morley mentions many, many books.

30Baviv First Message
Edited: Nov 5, 2006, 7:14 pm

Oy. The stories of H.P. Lovecraft are overflowing with references to fictional books. The Dunwhich horror in The Dunwich horror and others, for instance, spends much time on the topic of the Necronomicon. And then of course there is Robert W. Chamber's King in Yellow. Oh, and the Czuchlewski books, Muse asylum and Empire of light also have books at their core.

Oct 30, 2006, 11:19 pm

Parnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley is lovely too.

coloradoreader -- thank you for mentioning Special Topics in Calamity Physics...I have a young person who loves books and physics and I think she'll like that book!

Edited: Oct 31, 2006, 2:09 pm

Have anyone read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski ? The whole novel treats a lot of a book being in a book (and of many other things, of course...).

Nov 8, 2006, 4:47 pm

Hard to believe that no one has yet mentioned Possession by A.S. Byatt.

Nov 8, 2006, 7:15 pm

How right you are, littlegeek!!! I should feel ashamed, as Possession happens to be one of my favourite books....:-((

Nov 9, 2006, 5:22 am

Equally surprised that no-one has mentioned Borges, his stories are packed with fictional texts.

He takes the whole concept of authorship (and reading) to the nth degree in Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote in which Menard so identifies with Cervantes that instead of reading Don Quixote he decides to write it exactly as the existing text. The narrator upon reading this work finds it superior to Cervantes, richer and more subtle.

Nov 9, 2006, 9:14 am

A book that I found challenging was At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien. I learned about it through the audio tour at the Dublin Writer's Museum. The narrator said something like the following about it: it's a book about someone writing a book about someone writing a book. I admit I got very lost throughout, though the competing authors in the book did provide some humor. In the end, I preferred his The Third Policeman much better.

37The_Other_Reader First Message
Nov 9, 2006, 12:48 pm

Oh dear, here we are all the way from Mid-summer into Fall and no-one has mentioned If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino.

Edited: Nov 14, 2006, 2:38 pm

Was looking at my books last night and found another book in book. Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. Ever After by Graham Swift features a university professor who writes a manuscript after a failed suicide attempt.

Nov 27, 2006, 1:23 am

What no mention of The Princess Bride?

Dec 3, 2006, 11:44 pm

Looking for a book. It was mentioned in Hanabil. It has to do with creating a library in your mind. Appreciate the help.

Dec 4, 2006, 1:06 am

Hmm The Frances Yates book at a guess.

The Art of Memory

These Sites list various books

Dec 4, 2006, 3:40 pm

Diane Setterfield's novel The Thirteenth Tale is a biblio book- especially focused on Jane Eyre. I found it pretty enjoyable, too!

Dec 5, 2006, 5:43 am

I absolutely love Jasper Fforde's books. Read them all and can't wait for the next one!

Dec 5, 2006, 8:00 am

Jasper Fforde rocks!!!!!!

Dec 5, 2006, 10:06 pm

Thanks Simon. My dad has been searching for the book for three years. When I found this site and group I knew someone whould know.

Dec 6, 2006, 2:47 am

WelL I have not read the Hannibal. but I suspect he would probably have read one of the original latin texts. Cos he is supposed to be clever:^) If I know Frances Yates Her book will be as impenetrable as anything in latin so If he is seriously interested in learning the technique I suggest he look at the other options in the links I gave.

47Hermester First Message
Edited: Apr 7, 2010, 2:09 pm

Dear gentles,

I'm new to this site, and so please pardon any protocol irregularities. Regarding books in books, you might want to look at two websites, namely the two branches of The Invisible Library--the original, founded by Mr. Brian Quinette of Providence, Rhode Island:

That URL leads to an archived version of the now (alas) defunct site at .

We also point out our humble efforts located here:

And we welcome submissions!


Hermester Barrington, Professor of Protozoology, Miskatonic University
Fayaway, Freelance Treasure Hunter

Dec 6, 2006, 8:02 pm

Thank you Hermester, and welcome to the LT "family"!

Dec 8, 2006, 10:39 am

Wow, that's so intersting, Hermester! It reminds me of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in The Shadow of the Wind. How fun!

50purplefugue First Message
Edited: Dec 9, 2006, 10:17 am

A Yellow Lighted Bookstore is another I'd add to this list.

Edited: Dec 9, 2006, 12:59 pm

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop just to touchstone it.

Dec 9, 2006, 4:16 pm

Several of us have mentioned Jasper Fforde, but he's not showing up in the touchstones! So I'll do it. Jasper Fforde! I recently finished The Well of Lost Plots and enjoyed it very much -- it just keeps getting weirder and weirder, but it's great.

Dec 13, 2006, 1:00 am

In "Too Loud a Solitude" Hrabal's protagonist has been compacting trash for 35 years. Every night he carries home books he's rescued. Now books are everywhere in his house: more than 2 tons of them!! (This exceeds what most of us will ever have!) It is a remarkable book. Esta 1923

Edited: Dec 25, 2006, 10:26 pm

lets see assuming a ton of books is four cubic yards. 18 make that 19 for wastespace six foot by three foot bookcases. should hold them if the majority are are paperbacks.


Dec 25, 2006, 4:42 pm

Smart aleck. To figure out 3 tons of books (paperbacks) would fit onto a shelf is amazing.

Dec 26, 2006, 4:45 am

i would highly recommend "A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Lore, and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books" ed. by Harold Rabinowitz & Rob Kaplan... it also has a wonderful foreward by Ray Bradbury. Fascinating, engaging and utterly spellbinding for any who have "the gentle madness", as nicholas basbanes called it.
happy reading! :

Feb 11, 2007, 1:35 pm

For Fictive reading, I highly recommend 'The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield!

I just purchased "Pinkerton's Sister" which claims to be a cross between Harriot the Spy and Jane Eyre and worthy of Henry James. I'll report here at a later date!!

Edited: Mar 22, 2007, 11:29 pm

Has anyone read Daniel Stern's Twice Upon a Time, Stories and Twice Told Tales or Cynthia Ozick's The Messiah of Stockholm? The History of Love, The Reader, and The Archivist, a novel also come to mind.

I just finished The Book Thief, already mentioned. Great book. I think someone mentioned Reading Lolita in Teheran. And, yes, who could ever forget Possession.

Do books that stand on the shoulders of other books count? On Beauty, a novel shadowing Howards End or Ahab's Wife Moby Dick or the parody of Gone with the Wind in The Wind Done Gone?

I recently heard a Robert Coover reading in a Lanaan Foundation podcast which really sparked my interest. The story I heard was from A Child Again, a collection of very dark retellings of fairy tales if the one I heard on the Pied Piper is any indication. He also has books called Pinocchio in Venice and Briar Rose. It also just occurs to me that Kurt Vonnegut's
Slaughter-House Five also fits the bill.

I like this group. I'm gonna go join.

Mar 25, 2007, 4:22 pm

The Last Book in the Universe by Philbrick, and The Great Good Thing by Townley. Both of these are children's books - maybe for children ages 10-14ish. Philbrick's is a science fiction about a society in which all books have gone missing and are stored inside the protagonist's mind, reminding me of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. The Townley book is a fantasy addressing how characters can come to life in our minds and how books can influence the course of our lives. All three are good reads, though at very different reading levels.

Mar 29, 2007, 6:05 pm

84 Charring Cross Road & The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street both by Helene Hanff are my favorite books about books ! Hanff is a total book lover after my own heart who finds a Trans-Atlantic friendship w/a fellow book lover in wartime London during WWII. Check em out! Vanye

61numbert First Message
Apr 9, 2007, 3:51 pm

Add Inkheart to the list its a great one about reading and the magic of books.

Apr 10, 2007, 8:39 pm

The Neverending Story! The best editions have red and green inked typefaces, one color for the book and one for the book-within-a-book.

Apr 11, 2007, 8:37 am

I love both Inkheart and The neverending story. Remembering how much I enjoyed it years ago (I realized the book is almost thirty years old!!) I just bought a copy of the latter one for my son.

Apr 11, 2007, 8:55 pm

I've just finished reading Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast by Bill Richardson. A real gem, humourous and light-hearted about two brothers in love with books. They list their preferences according to moods and circumstances. A great way to add to your reading list.

Apr 11, 2007, 8:57 pm

The Neverending Story! I loved that book! Is it really 30 years old?! Oh I age!

Apr 12, 2007, 2:04 pm

Yep yep yep, bleuroses, it is almost 30 years son just started it and loves it!

67mariareads First Message
Edited: May 1, 2007, 4:53 pm

hi all-
new to LibraryThing (LOVE IT) and to the list, so i'm assuming as far as rules go. all genres welcome? my 'book-on-book' mention is a love story of sorts, involving employees of a small-town bookstore, older woman, younger man. emphasis on the love part, as evidenced by the love letter:

Do you know how much in love with you I am? Did I trip? Did I stumble? Lose balance? Graze my knee? Graze my heart? I know I'm in love when I see you. I know when I long to see you. I'm on fire. Not a muscle has moved. The air is still. The leaves hang in the trees. There's no breeze. I have fallen in love without taking a step.
You're all wrong for me and I know that but I can no longer care for my thoughts unless they're thoughts of you.
I look away from you sometimes, then I look back. I feel your hair touch my cheeks when it does not.
When I peel an orange, tie my shoe, drive my car, when I lie down each night without you... I remain...


the book is The Love Letter: A Novel, by Cathleen Schine. as i recall, you never find out who wrote the letter...but i love a good mystery as well. post!

May 1, 2007, 9:47 pm

#67 - Loved that movie. Did you see it?

May 4, 2007, 1:59 pm

Iam going to toss John Dunning into the mix here. His Cliff Janeway mysteries are about book collecting & book store ownership. The 1st Booked to Die and his latest Bookwoman's Last Fling. Not complex, but fun reading for me.

May 4, 2007, 3:45 pm

#69 - John Dunning used to own a bookstore in Denver, maybe still does. I used to listen to his Old Time Radio show on KADX every Sunday.

I'd like to add Vonnegut and his fictional author, Kilgore Trout, who was very prolific.

May 15, 2007, 9:46 pm

In Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun, which is not only the finest literary SF ever but one of the finest novels, period, of the past 30 years, the protagonist brings four books to a prisoner who has requested them, having retrieved them from a library whose blind curator is supposedly based on Borges. By paying attention, we are able to deduce that one of them is entitled The Book of the New Sun. Then, of course, in the sequel, the same protagonist, who travels through time, writes The Book of the New Sun.

May 16, 2007, 8:37 pm

I've just finished reading Short and Tall Tales, a compilation collected by James Mackintosh Qwilleran. Qwill is actual an invention of Lilian Jackson Braun, author most known for her the Cat Who series.

May 29, 2007, 9:05 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Aug 24, 2011, 6:15 pm

Parnassus on Wheels and The Haunted Bookshop contain references to many books, including E. V. Lucas's Over Bremerton's about an old bachelor who takes up rooms over a second-hand bookshop. I've not read Lucas's book yet, but Parnassus on Wheels and The Haunted Bookshop are fun reads for a book lover.


edited to add: Now I've read Over Bremerton's, and my brief
review is here >

May 30, 2007, 7:40 am

#74 > you are quite right!

Jul 21, 2007, 4:52 pm

in the book the Poe Shadow there is mention of a parody to the Poem the Raven, called the Turkey,

has anyone come across it ?

david perrings

77marjasric First Message
Edited: Jul 24, 2007, 3:08 am

The poem in Pale fire by Nabokov is a classic of the genre. Sophie's world by Jostein Gaarder has a great twist on this theme. A personal favorite is A perfect vacuum by Stanislaw Lem, a collection of reviews of non-existent books.

Aug 21, 2007, 8:58 am

The Rule of Four is the book about books I'm currently reading.

Sep 17, 2007, 5:49 pm

Can't believe no one mentioned "The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death" in The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner yet!

Sep 17, 2007, 9:30 pm

I believe.. in the book..I know this much is true... By Wally Lamb.. He mentions in the book... he read..100 years of solitude by Garcia Marquez

Edited: Sep 22, 2007, 10:00 pm

and How can we forget Gödel, Escher, Bach : an eternal golden braid.
which constantly references alternative versions of itself.

Nov 4, 2007, 12:27 pm

The Miss Zukas series by Jo Dereske
Reader's Guide to Murder by H.Paul Jeffers
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
are all good Books in Books reads

Nov 5, 2007, 8:41 pm

Although perhaps a little off this genre, I noted a new book in our local library about libraries Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love.

Nov 7, 2007, 3:33 pm

I recently read a short story collection by Zoran Živković named The Library. All the stories are about libraries and obsession with books. Not as good as Jorge Luis Borges' short stories, which the reviews compared them to, a bit disappointing in fact, but the right theme.

I don't know if anyone knows the book A Book Dragon by Donn Kushner. It is a kids book, about a dragon who lives in, and protects a book from it is made in a monestary in 1500 something, till it ends up in a used booksstore.

Edited: Feb 9, 2008, 4:16 pm

The following cover the full spectrum of the use of books real or not as a plot device or gateway to the story.

The Last Cato: A Novel
by Matilde Asensi Uses a real book "Dantes Inferno" to send people on a quest to find out who and why people are stealing pieces of the true cross.

The House of Paper by Carlos Maria Dominguez uses a book covered in cement with an inscription to send a person on a quest to find out why the cement and who is Carlos.

The Shadow of the Wind: A Novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafon sends a young boy on a search for more books by his favorite author. On the way he learns why he can't find the books and the story of the author and why he wrote the books.

The book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg Is about four college buddies that find a book called "The Book Of Skulls" which tells of monastery where it is possible to obtain everlasting life. The book is about their trip to this place and their trials once they get here.

And the latest entry in this growing genre; "People of the Book:A Novel" by Geraldine Brooks (haven't read this one yet).

In all cases the stories are less about the books (real or invented) then the quest that results from, or the knowlage gained from, reading or searching for the books.

Mar 26, 2008, 11:18 pm

In Darconville's Cat, Alexander Theroux provides a list of the (hundreds of!) books in the library of one of his characters; real and fictional.

Edited: Mar 29, 2009, 2:38 pm

The last days of the lacuna cabal by Sean Dixon. Am halfway through, enjoyed it so far.

Apr 26, 2009, 8:03 pm

The Last Dickens another book my Matthew Pearl has some interesting references to the publishing business.

Apr 28, 2009, 6:12 pm

Jumping in late here - there's A Book Dragon (touchstones not working) by Donn Kushner about a dragon which learns to shrink, meets a monk who is illuminating a book, decides that the book will be his particular treasure, and so the dragon stays with the book down through the centuries. The illustrations, by the author, are exceptionally well done.

Jun 10, 2009, 10:55 am

For mysteries about books, I recommend Marianne Macdonald's Dido Hoare series.

For general fiction about books, how about Sheridan Hay's The Secret of Lost Things.

Jul 13, 2009, 11:29 pm

Just to be Literal, here is a book about books: 'Classics for Pleasure' (2007) for those of you who lost your Reading List. The work is divided into themes:

'Playful Imaginations'

'Heros of Their Time'

'Love's Mysteries'

'Words from the Wise'

I found it to be fascinating to read enlightened evaluations of books that I have already read, with which I could compare my reactions with those of a more insightful reviewer. This only lead me to realize how shallow my understanding and appreciation of the work truly was. I am beginning to understand just how ignorant I really am.
I guess I'll have to stick to non-fiction.

'Everyday Magic'

'Lives of Consequence'

'The Dark Side'

'Traveler's Tales'

'The Way We Live now'

'Realms of Adventure'

'Encyclopedic Visions'

Edited: Jul 14, 2009, 12:00 am

I am glad to see that someone has mentioned that fictional work of Occult Wisdom and Evil Knowledge mentioned by Howard P. Lovecraft; 'The Necronomicon', in his many works, such 'At the Mountains of Madness'. For those fans of the Dark Side, Mr. Lovecraft's deeply pessimistic and cynical viewpoint will illustrate the profound needs that require people to cling to those perfectionist fantasies that give them comfort, hope and inspiration. I suppose everyone needs a crutch just to get out of bed in the morning. One of his messages was that if we knew the truth, we would not be able to go on, or even want to.
'Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here', and you will not be disappointed. "Enjoy Your Delusions, Treasure Your Illusions".

Aug 24, 2011, 3:25 pm

Has anyone mentioned Bartleby and Company by Enrique Vila-Matas. He mentions so many books by writers who stopped writing. It is a fantastic little journey into the world of NOT writing.

Edited: Jun 15, 2013, 12:12 pm

My all time favorite book - De torens van februari (The towers of february) is also very much a book in a book. It is a parallel universe children's book (12+, actually) and it was my introduction to the parallel universe theme. The book actually suggests that we are reading a edited version of the book which the protagonist is reading - and writing in.

Erik Smit (wester's husband)

Edited: Jan 25, 2021, 8:40 pm

Some recent Books-in-Books talk on this thread...