A list of books about books

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A list of books about books

Aug 8, 2006, 8:08 am

I've been working on a list of books about books (both fiction and non). It can be found here http://www.listsofbests.com/list/662/compare/inkdrinker for anyone who is interested.

Aug 16, 2006, 3:55 am

I'm glad to see that you have A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel on your list; it's one of the few books I have along those lines.

Aug 21, 2006, 4:27 pm

I've A History of Reading too - I just read it a few weeks ago, and very much enjoyed it.

Sep 7, 2006, 10:40 pm


Great resource. Thanks for doing the work and posting a link. I've bookmarked you.

Sep 8, 2006, 11:14 pm

Here's what's in my catalogue under the "books on books" tag: Lilithcat's Books on Books. These are non-fiction. I haven't so tagged any of my fiction, but you're tempting me to do so!

Sep 9, 2006, 7:56 pm

Lilithcat, Have you read "The Book on the Bookshelf" yet? That one is one of my favorites so far.

Sep 9, 2006, 8:54 pm

I've wanted The Book on the Bookshelf, but not badly enough yet. What makes it a favorite, inkdrinker?

Sep 10, 2006, 12:12 am

I found The Book on the Bookshelf absolutely fascinating! It was interesting to read about how changes in the book's basic structure (from chunk of clay to scroll to codex), as well as its change from a precious to a common object, changed the way it is stored.

Sep 10, 2006, 8:11 am

The book is a history of the book and the bookshelf. It's very readeable and I was facinated by the evolution. There were some early versions of shelves (wooden) which attempted to aproximate something akin to what the internet would be like for us today. The book was just a great read with so many bits of interesting information.

Sep 10, 2006, 5:26 pm

Sounds excellent. I'm especially intrigued, of course, by how early wooden shelving could attempt to approximate the internet, in any sense (and changes in the book itself). :) Another title, then, to move higher on my wishlist. Thank you both.

Sep 26, 2006, 2:10 pm

I love your list on List of Bests! I own many of these books, and will ctalog them as I come to them. I'd like to suggest How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom for inclusion, as well as For the Love of Books compiled by Ronald B. Shwartz.

I make these suggestions only because I assume you're creating a list of any book about books, and not ones that you've personally read or own or somesuch. If that isn't the case, if this is a catalog of personal bests, please accept these as strong suggestions for addition to your library:

ABC of Reading by Ezra Pound

Aldus and His Dream Book by Helen Barolini

A Booklover in Texas by Evelyn Oppenheimer

By the bye, do books of literary criticism count? Books about the greats of publishing/editing etc? I believe anyone who loves books should read Max Perkins by A. Scott Berg, and Man of Letters: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Literary Impresario Rupert Hart-Davis, and Firebrand: The Life of Horace Liveright for the editorial side of the coin.

Oct 1, 2006, 3:12 pm

I'd recommend Back Then: Two Literary Lives in 1950s New York by Anne Bernays and Justin Kaplan. Suffice to say it wasn't only the Beatniks who had fun!

Edited: Oct 1, 2006, 5:51 pm

Jan 30, 2007, 4:39 pm

On the editorial/ publisher side of things, I enjoyed Dear Donald, Dear Bennet. It's the wartime (WWII) correspondence of Bennet Cerf and Donald Klopfer, the guys behind Random House. RH is a cool story in itself. Dovetails well into Horace Liveright.

Edited: Feb 1, 2007, 1:49 pm

ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter

The Archivist: A Novel by Martha Cooley

The Browser's Ecstasy : A Meditation on Reading by Geoffrey O'Brien

The Art of the Bookplate by Michael Dirda

The Books in my Life by Colin Wilson
(Incorrect book Touchstone)

Chasing the Sun : Dictionary makers and the dictionaries they made by Jonathon Green

Every Book Its Reader : The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World by Nicholas A. Basbanes

Gutenberg by John Man
(Incorrect book Touchstone)

The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley

How to Read a Novel : A user's guide by John Sutherland

The Know-It-All : One man's humble quest to become the smartest person in the world by A. J. Jacobs
(Incorrect author Touchstone)

These next 2 were written over 150 years ago:
The Library by Andrew Lang
(Incorrect book Touchstone)

The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac by Eugene Field

This one was written in the 1300's, if I recall correctly...
The Love of Books by Richard de Bury
(Incorrect book Touchstone)

Old English Libraries The Making, Collection and Use of Books During the Middle Ages by Ernest A. Savage

A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict by John Baxter

Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love by Anne Fadiman

Slightly Chipped: Footnotes in Booklore by Lawrence Goldstone

Smithsonian Book of Books by Michael Olmert

Speaking of Books : The Best Things Ever Said About Books and Book Collecting edited by Rob Kaplan and Harold Rabinowitz

A Splendor of Letters : The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World by Nicholas A. Basbanes

Only interesting for those who are interested in commercial binding:
A Rod for the Back of the Binder: Some Considerations of Book Binding With Reference to the Ideals of the Lakeside Press by Bruce Rogers

I may have skipped a few....

** edited to attempt to get the touchstones to load...

Note to Self: Don't overwhelm the server by bulk-loading touchstone candidates!
And never, ever, ever edit a message that has many touchstones!!!

BAD WholeHouseLibrary! BAD WholeHouseLibrary!!

17MrRon First Message
Edited: Aug 27, 2007, 1:09 am

I Love Books by John Snider

Aug 27, 2007, 4:49 am

Oct 20, 2007, 3:52 pm

I just found one this past week that I couldn't pass up, called The novel 100 by Daniel S. Burt. It's a Barnes & Noble 2007 publication, hardcover, just over 600 pages, and it was in the bargain section for $9.95. It seems like a lot of books that recommend other books have only a paragraph or two about each title (I'm thinking of Book lust and a few others I've seen), whereas this one has five to seven pages about each novel - basically 100 short essays. I didn't really think about whether or not to buy it, I just picked it up and carried it around till I got to the check-out line. :-)

(Nothing against Nancy Pearl, I just remember thinking her book sounded great, and then when saw how short the descriptions were for each book, it just wasn't what I was looking for.)

Edited: Jan 5, 2008, 10:03 am

Two contributions to bibliophiles, both fiction: The Shadow of the Wind, and detective stories about the book trade, The Bookman's Wake, Booked to Die. In non-fiction, Old Books, Rare Friends, by two antiquarian dealers. Also: Collecting Modern Books, The Meaning of Everything, and one that I found very influential, The Gutenberg Elegies. Have fun!

Jan 5, 2008, 1:04 pm

Books that Changed the World by Robert B. Downs - haven't read it yet

How to read a book by M. Adler - read it, it was so-so. It talked about hoe to take notes on a book, how to understand different structures of books, etc. It was pretty much stuff anyone with a *good* college education or a lot of common sense would know.

Great Books by D. Denby, about a middle-aged guy who returns to school to do the "Great Books" curriculum

The Lifetime Reading Plan if it hasn't been mentioned

Jan 10, 2008, 9:14 am

If you liked the Bookman mysteries by John Dunning, you'll probably like Fast Company by Marco Page. Has a similar feel, just from the 1940s. And out of print.

Jan 16, 2008, 11:32 pm

Thanks for the tip on Fast Company!
I'm glad to find other people interested in publishers and publishing houses as well as books themselves. A few I have to offer, that I haven't seen listed yet:

At Home with Books
The Rogue of Publisher's Row
The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs
Horace Liveright
The Professor and the Madman

The Business of Books

Book Design
Wendell Minor
Chip Kidd
From Cover to Cover

The Paris Pilgrims
The Overnight

Jan 17, 2008, 1:57 am

Count another vote for The Meaning of Everything, The Professor and the Madman, The Book on the Bookshelf and The Art of the Bookplate.

I really enjoyed The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus. The author writes of his quest to see every surviving first and second edition of De Revolutionibus. Along the way he describes the process of making books back then, the impact the book had on the scientific community, the history of the owners of each copy, and some major cases of book thefts and forgeries.

The Book of Books: An Eclectic Collection of Reading Recommendations, Quirky Lists, and Fun Facts about Books is spotty - some good recommendations and some silly ones.

501 Must-Read Books leans heavily to British fiction (not my favorite), but the summaries and reviews are good.

The Secret of Lost Things is a novel about a bookseller.

Feb 15, 2008, 7:25 pm

I just read Classics for Pleasure and it's inspired me to check out some of the other books by Michael Dirda. All of those books by Nicholas Basbanes are excellent. And I'm still a fan of that good ol' The Lifetime Reading Plan.

Edited: Apr 4, 2008, 6:53 pm

Richard de Bury's Philobiblon is a delight, and, if we can squeeze in books on the evolution of libraries: Justus Lipsius: A Brief Outline of the History of Libraries and James Branch Cabell: These Restless Heads. These last two will be of interest to anyone who has enjoyed Borges's writings.

Apr 5, 2008, 4:15 pm

I recently read How to Read a Book. It can be exceedingly dry but it is overall excellent. I would recommend it to a serious student. It is full of great advice on how to study books of various genres. Take it in small doses, you will learn quite a bit.

Jul 7, 2008, 7:53 am

Anatomy of Bibliomania by Holbrook Jackson is an entertaining and joyful book about books, though it isn't really about any particular books in the manner of The Western Canon. It's more of a celebration, along with some very funny pseudo-medical taxonomy of us poor sufferers of the title condition.

Jul 12, 2008, 11:55 am

Another good book is Living with Books. Covers a lot about bookcases and rooms.

Jul 12, 2008, 12:56 pm

I tend to enter my non-fiction (as most people seem to do),as 'Books about Books'. However I have my fiction on the subject tagged as 'Booky Books(of Booksellers,Librarians,Bibliophiles and the like in Fiction)
You have given me an idea of combining these however. Hmmm !

Jul 12, 2008, 8:54 pm

Another Happy reader of The Book on the Bookshelf.

Edited: Aug 15, 2008, 10:26 pm

Love the list and all the other recommendations. I'm currently reading Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan NPR's Fresh Air book critic.

Aug 26, 2008, 5:40 pm

Finished The Bondage of Ballinger the other night. It was ok. Ok-ish. I found myself eyeing The Library at Night, needing to be put away, wishing I was still reading it instead. Ballinger is alright, if you happen to like cozy, 100 year old fluff. PG Wodehouse without the wit, charm or snark.

Aug 26, 2008, 8:31 pm

Just got How fiction Works by James Wood my favorite critic. Looking forward to reading it.

Edited: Nov 22, 2008, 8:07 pm

Here are a few to add to the list:

Another by Michael Dirda Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life
Speaking of Reading by Nadine Rosenthal who explores all the different types of reading, from great classics to instruction manuals
Dear Author: Letters of Hope by Joan Kaywell is a neat compendium of teens reacting to YA lit. These are their letters and the author's answer.
Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast by Bill Richardson - two brothers share their love of books and create a haven for book lovers all over - if such a place exists, please let me know!
Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery and Drama by Suzanne Strempek Shea - memoirs about working in a bookshop.

I'm sure translations must exist for the following:
Une autre histoire de la littérature française by Jean d'Ormesson - a two volume series discussing the great French classics with a renewed passion.
Comme un roman by Daniel Pennac. All about the readers' rights.
Éloge de la fiction by Marc Petit.
Dans la forêt du miroir ; Essai sur les mots et sur le monde by Alberto Maguel.

Edited: Nov 25, 2008, 7:13 pm

At Home With Books is one of my favorite browsing books. I've had it for years, but hardly a month goes by without me picking it up and trying to read the spines on the books of the various personal libraries depicted within.

I'll just be honest and say that, for me personally, the Nicholas Basbanes books get less interesting as time goes on. It appears that he has come close to exhausting his material.

The various collections of Dirda's Washington Post writings, however, are wonderful, as his taste seems to overlap with mine.

Nov 27, 2008, 1:34 am

Re 36
I do the same thing with Living with Books. Trying
to decipher whats on the shelves......

I somewhat agree that Basbanes books are getting
repetitious, though Patience and Fortitude was great.

Nov 27, 2008, 7:26 pm

I just did a quick read of inkdrinker's list as well as those touchstones in this topic. In addition to the previously mentioned Classics for pleasure I didn't notice A lifetime's Reading, 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written and A Gentle Madness. Apologies if you already have those.

Nov 27, 2008, 9:16 pm

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield I consider a book about books-that was what kept me reading it.

Lots of good ideas here as well on the list the link goes to to add to my collection of books about books. I agree with #36 and #37--I love the Dirda books!

Dec 16, 2008, 3:46 pm

I recently read "People of the Book," by Geraldine Brooks. It's the fictional story of a real book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautiful 15th century illustrated manuscript. I could not put the book down and weeks after reading it, I'm still thinking about it.

Dec 16, 2008, 3:50 pm

Sorry, I meant to add People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks to the Touchstones list.

Dec 18, 2008, 9:28 pm

Again, my apologies if this was already mentioned in some of the other lists, but I just finished reading 100 Must-read classic novels by Nick Rennison.

Edited: Feb 6, 2009, 3:17 pm

I just bought The uncommon reader by Alan Bennett and am looking forward to reading it. Not sure if it 'belongs' here, but it is about the Queen neglecting her duties because she'd rather read. :-)

Mar 17, 2009, 11:39 pm

I stumbled across Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack at the library. A novel about a bibliophile who retreats into books whenever life goes wrong.

Mar 18, 2009, 11:14 am

Reading Auto-Da-Fe many years ago gave me a fearful claustrophobia about my books that took a while to shake. Even now, when I dust the shelves, the creepy memory of the isolated sinologist Klein, who meticulously performs the same act, worms its way back into my consciousness..

Canetti's breakthrough work, Die Blendung (Auto-da-Fé), apperared in 1935. It was banned by the Nazis, but beside this dubious acknowledgment Canetti did not gain much attention as a writer before the 1960s when the book was reprinted. The protagonist is Peter Klein, a forty-year-old philologist and sinologist. He knows much of ancient languages but is unable to decipher contemporary voices. "He himself was the owner of the most important private library in the whole of this great city. He carried a minute portion of it with him wherever he went. His passion for it, the only one which he had permitted himself during a life of austere and exacting study, moved him to take special precautions. Books, even bad ones, tempted him easily into making a purchase. Fortunately the great number of the book shops did not open until after eight o'clock." Klein feels safe with his 40 000 characters of the Chinese alphabet and 25 000 books. He fears social and physical contacts, and his inhumane view of the world contradicts his learning. However, he allows himself to get into the clutches of his ignorant and grasping housekeeper Therese Krummholz, nearing 60, whom he marries, and who robs him of everything. In this she is helped by Benedikt Pfaff, the proto-fascist caretaker of the apartment block. Klein descends to the lower, surrealistic depths of society. His brother Georges, who is a psychiatrist, tries in vain to cure him. Doomed Klein dies in apocalyptic self-destruction amidst his books.



Edited: Mar 31, 2009, 12:21 pm

My collection of Books about collecting books is at www.yarington.com

Edited: Mar 31, 2009, 12:20 pm

I read someplace that a biblio mystery written in the 20th century was the "oldest" biblio mystery. I believe that Scrope; or The lost Library, A novel of New York and Hartford, by Frederic B. Perkins, Boston, 1874, wins the prize as "oldest" Anyone know an older biblio mystery??

Apr 2, 2009, 10:10 pm

And if you want you can read the full text of Scrope from the 1874 book on Google


Apr 5, 2009, 12:37 pm

These may fall more specifically under book lists but I didn't notice them mentioned (forgive me if they are already noted). My favorites of these are Writer's choice : a library of rediscoveries from which I've gleaned a wealth of gems over the years, and David Madden's Rediscoveries: Well-known Novelists Rediscover Neglected Works of Fiction By One of Their Favorite Authors and Rediscoveries II: Important Writers Select Their Favorite Works of Neglected Fiction.

The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books
Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason
Good books for the curious traveler Europe
Good books for the curious traveler Asia and the South Pacific
Lost Classics: Writers on Books Loved and Lost, Overlooked, Under-read, Unavailable, Stolen, Extinct, or Otherwise Out of Commission
The modern movement; one hundred key books from England, France, and America, 1880-1950
The New Guide to Modern World Literature
Good Books by Steven Gilbar
A Reader's Delight
Time Out 1000 Books to Change Your Life (Time Out Guides)
The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books
Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide

Edited: May 16, 2009, 5:45 pm

Just an idle thought, and not sure where we are
going? there must be a '30 film with something
in it's eyes

Oh yes, what about borges short story on the Library which contains ALL Libraries. I have it somewhere, but where?

And then there is the "...unseen university library..." overseen by a "mon....." sorry I meant APE,
Written by Pratchett.

Please ignore the TOUCHSTONES... again, and
again, and...

Jun 9, 2009, 5:04 pm

I'm reading Comment parler des livres que l'on n'a pas lus by Pierre Bayard - it seems paradoxical that a professor of literature would want to write a book about books he hasn't read, but he presents a compelling argument about how it's impossible to read all books and for most, it's simply a question of contextualizing them! Of course, he gives a list of books you don't need to read but about which you can still talk intelligently...

Jun 10, 2009, 9:32 pm

Cecilturtle, I have a copy of How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read, but I am yet to read it. I'm wondering if maybe I could somehow work it into conversation without ever reading a single word in it.

Jul 6, 2009, 4:41 am

I have just finished a delightful book by Mexican writer Toscana, El ultimo lector. In a desert village, an old man manages a library. He uses books to explain and define reality. As the book evolves, we discover that he is in fact looking for something specific. I will not divulge the ending, but it is absolutely superb. A must read.

Edited: Jul 6, 2009, 2:54 pm

Here's some books about books, all nonfiction, which have yet to be mentioned. Almost all of them are by or about book collectors from other generations. Some of them can be previewed at Google Books or at the Internet Archive.

A Shelf of Old Books by Mrs. James T. Fields
The books her husband, James T. Fields, the publisher, collected in England.

The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter by Charles P. Everitt
The best anecdotal book about book I've ever read.

A Miscellany For Bibliophiles by H. George Fletcher

Fishers of Books by Barton Currie

The Diversions of a Booklover by Adrian H. Joline
Discusses other books about books.

This BookCollecting Game by A. Edward Newton
Any book by This author is good reading

The Booklover's Enchiridion by Alexander Ireland
Quotations about books

Books About Books by Winslow L. Webber
A descriptive bibliography of books about books published before 1937.

The Alida Roochvarg Collection of Books About Books by Oak Knoll Books.
Six catalogues of books about books which she collected and then sold.

A Sentimental Library by Harry B. Smith
The greatest collection of presentation copies and association copies ever assembled.

Nov 10, 2009, 7:57 pm

A new one to add to the list:

Howards End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill

Nov 13, 2009, 9:33 am

What a great title!

Nov 15, 2009, 2:06 pm

For my best interest and my wallet's, I think this thread should be deleted! :)

Nov 15, 2009, 6:21 pm


Nov 24, 2009, 6:02 pm

There is a new bookstore/literary travel book out for the Midwest The Booklover's Guide to the Midwest. Lots of history, author's homes, bookstores and "places mentioned in books" kind of stuff.

Nov 27, 2009, 1:21 pm

Ooo. I live the midwest...

Amazon.com says it is not available till Dec 29, 2009

Edited: Nov 29, 2009, 10:51 am

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession, by Allison Hoover Bartlett.

The books and biography of early 20th century collector, scout and dealer, Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach. Titles include, Books and Bidders, and A Book Hunter's Holiday: Adventures with Books and Manuscripts.

Editor William Targ's books, particularly Bouillabaisse for Bibliophiles: a treasury of bookish lore, wit & wisdom, tales, poetry & narratives & certain curious studies of interest to bookmen & collectors

Nov 29, 2009, 3:14 am

Some items for your list about the history of books and early manuscripts.

One of my favorite books and a most readable book on the subject of the discovery of ancient books and manuscripts is Testaments of Time by Leo Deuel

The previous book was much influnced by an earlier work on the subject. Egyptian Papyri and Papyrus-hunting by James Baikie

Other books include

Before Writing: From Counting to Cuneiform byDenise Schmandt-Besserat

The Origins of the Book by Mohamed A. Hussen

Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World by E. G. Tucker

Oxyrhynchus: A City and Its Texts (Graeco-Roman Memoirs) (Graeco-Roman Memoirs) by A. K. Bowman

Reading Papyri, Writing Ancient History by Roger Bagnall

The Hand-Produced Book , The Illuminated Book: Its History & Production and The Book Before Printing: Ancient, Medieval and Oriental all by David Diringer

In the Beginning: Bibles before the year 1000 by Michell Brown

The shape of the Book: from Roll to Codex by Franca Arduini

Paper Before Print by Jonathan Bloom

The Silk Road by Susan Whitfield

Nov 29, 2009, 5:08 am

Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L'Amour; and short story by L'Amour, The Man Who Stole Shakespeare.

Nov 30, 2009, 12:50 pm


You're right, Amazon doesn't have it for sale. They're a bit slow in listing it, it seems.
But it is available from the publisher's site.

Feb 25, 2010, 3:15 am

I'm currently reading (or, rather flicking through the photos in) Books Do Furnish a Room. Some pretty quirky stuff including trompe l'oeil book wallpaper as well as bathroom and loo libraries. This is more for the 'book exhibitionist' rather than the dedicated book collector, who would worry about damage from sun, steam, etc. :)

Edited: Feb 25, 2010, 8:29 am

Feb 25, 2010, 1:13 pm

Oh, great. Something else for the wishlist....


Feb 25, 2010, 4:48 pm

Just got a letter from the Folio society asking me to renew my membership.
One of the "gifts" is #67's book. You have decided me.

Thanks, Guido.

May 1, 2010, 2:10 pm

Yann Martel has just published a list of books that he has been sending to Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, over the past two years What is Stephen Harper reading?. With the book comes a letter explaining why Martel chose that book, what it means to him and how he came to pick it. In conclusion there is a short biography of the author. It is very well done and easy to read - a great way to discover new authors.
Martel also has a blog:

Jul 17, 2010, 3:11 pm

I am reading Fingersmith by Sarah Waters in which a madman collects pornographic books and makes it his life's work to index them. It's not the main theme of the book, but there are some discussions on bindings, paper, ink, etc. The book itself is a marvelous thriller.

Edited: Aug 10, 2010, 9:35 pm

"The House of Paper" by Carlos Maria Dominguez (Touchstones goes to wrong book)

A Prof. of Latin American Literature is hit and killed by a car while reading a book of Emily Dickerson's poetry she has just purchased. The Prof. that takes over her classes receives a book for her that is covered in cement and contains an inscription to Carlos. Who is Carlos, and why the cement?
This is the start of his quest to find the answer to this mystery. This short book (more of a long short story) and is more about peaple who collect books and how this hobby takes over their lives. The best part of this book is it's full of statements about books that any reader can relate to example, "...the books are advancing silently, innocently through my house. There is no way I can stop them".

Aug 25, 2010, 9:16 pm

Here's a book about books I know none of you have ever heard of, because I wrote it and it will be released in September 2010. It's called BOOKLOVER: A ONE-YEAR JOURNAL OF READING, REFLECTING & REMEMBERING, from RatholeBooks.com. It should show up on Amazon in the next several weeks. Hope you will watch for it.

Aug 26, 2010, 3:30 pm

Give us a synopsis!

Aug 27, 2010, 9:05 pm

TimBazzett yes! do tell!

Aug 28, 2010, 12:03 am

Well Tim,

I, for once, am prepared to "wave" the rule about self promulgation.
If I can work out how to spell it.

YES, please tell us about your SAGA!
Those sort of journeys can be "really exciting" or...


Aug 29, 2010, 8:27 am

I'm glad I found my way to this group! What a lovely list, and what great contributions everyone here has made! It's going to take me a while to go over the list and all of the further suggestions here before I'll know if I have anything further to contribute, of if all of my suggestions have already been covered!

I wonder if 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die has been covered? It seems to me one of the ultimate books about books! It lists some wonderful, wonderful books, as well as some I wouldn't care for. I love the synopses of each book, and the illustrations are rich and gorgeous!

I do love books about books!

Sep 9, 2010, 1:28 pm

Another one that's fun to flip through is 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up edited by Julia Eccleshare. It reminds you of alot of books you read as a child and may have forgotten about as well as updates you on some good children's and YA books. For instance, I didn't know that Salmon Rushdie had written a YA book or Henning Mankell for that matter. It also includes some fantastic illustrations from the featured books. Great book to take out of the library.

Edited: Sep 19, 2010, 4:17 pm

In the fiction category, The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers (part of the Zamonia series).

Fantasy adventure that takes place largely in and under Bookholm. Took me embarrassingly long to realize that many characters' names were anagrams of different writers' names. A funny, exciting, even touching celebration of the magic of writing.

Oct 25, 2010, 12:07 pm

I have a blog devoted to books about books: http://nathaliefoy.wordpress.com

Oct 25, 2010, 5:24 pm

Thanks, Nathalie. I just added it to my favorites.

Oct 26, 2010, 11:00 am


Oct 26, 2010, 11:15 am

# 79 - Nathalie, I checked out your blog, and I'm hooked! Love your blog!

Nov 2, 2010, 8:56 am

nathaliefoy - what a great site! I'm following the RSS. Keep it up!

Edited: Nov 5, 2010, 8:09 am

The author Jorge Luis Borges might appeal to many here. I'm reading his book, Labyrinths, and books, reading, and writing seem to be a fairly strong theme in most of the stories. I'm loving this book! It has the feeling of the literary version of an M.C. Escher painting!

Nov 6, 2010, 5:17 pm

Books feature prominently in two 20th Century Central European novels: Auto Da Fe by Elias Canetti, a rather disturbing work, and Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal, which I just received today. Hrabal's book involves a garbage man who, each evening, carts home books he has rescued from the trash compactor, and who looks to be from the book description a sort of "enlightened idiot". Can't wait to read it...

Edited: Nov 8, 2010, 10:58 am

>>Hrabal's book involves a garbage man who, each evening, carts home books he has rescued from the trash compactor, and who looks to be from the book description a sort of "enlightened idiot". Can't wait to read it...The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which I loved. (Not that she was an idiot...just uneducated.)

I'd be interested in hearing what you think of it when you finish it.

Nov 8, 2010, 10:28 am

The Hrabal book was a quick read, and I recommend it highly. Anguishing scenes of mass book destruction. I'll eventually do a short review, but there are several LT reviews already, along with a couple of beer recommendations.

Nov 8, 2010, 10:59 am

Thanks, Makifat!

Nov 9, 2010, 12:18 pm

I just ordered Auto Da Fe and Too Loud a Solitude from Amazon. Thanks for the suggestions.

Nov 9, 2010, 2:32 pm

Just reviewed A Novel Bookstore, a beautiful and very French novel, in my thread...post #52.

It's a book about books, in the best possible way, a book that makes the love of books its m ajor plot point!

Nov 9, 2010, 2:40 pm

You're welcome!

I hope you enjoy them!

Nov 13, 2010, 10:29 am

>86 Makifat:
a sort of "enlightened idiot"

That describes me perfectly! Thank you for that. I always wanted to label myself but could not find the right words. I will definitely be ordering that book.

Nov 13, 2010, 11:38 am

Me too! 18 years of formal American education and I had barely read more than a handful of books, let alone any classics.

Nov 15, 2010, 3:54 pm

I just picked up The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard. It says it's about a bookstore that is "the meeting place of a society of booklovers and readers, who have maintained a tradition of immense power passed down from the days of the great library of ancient Alexandria."

It sounds interesting, and the first part of the opening chapter reminded me of The Haunted Bookshop (which I need to finish reading someday).

Nov 20, 2010, 8:55 am

It's probably been mentioned, but I just got a copy and read, 100 One-Night Reads a Book Lover's Guide.

These may not really be one-nighters, but there are excellent choices.

Nov 28, 2010, 11:08 pm

A new coffee table book is out. Some of these are really good. I am going to order this one.

Living with Books (Amazon)

Edited: Jul 23, 2012, 4:12 pm

Have acquired 'IN QUEST OF THE PERFECT BOOK' (1926) and 'THE MAGIC OF THE BOOK' (1930) from the Kelmscott Bookshop (www.kelmscottbookshop.com) in Baltimore. I will get back to you with a review after reading them.
Am finishing reading 'INDECENT PLEASURES' (1975) about one of the twentieth century's best known Acquisition Editors, who worked for Macmillan Publishing in New York city for most of his career. What a life!
Also will be starting on 'AUBREY BEARDSLEY, A Biography' (1998) which I also got at Kelmscott. Beardsley was one of the the artists who provided wildly new illustrations for the works of the literary 'Decadents' of the late nineteenth century in Britain such as Edward Burne-Jones.
Also have added 'A WORLD OF LETTERS; Yale University Press 1908-2008 (2008) and 'THE BOOK IN THE RENAISSANCE' (2010) to my collection. The Renaissance book is very detailed and extensive in scope. What stands out is that most printers and publishers before the year 1500 went out of business fairly rapidly because they could not find buyers quickly enough to generate sufficient cash-flow to maintain production. Got both of these from www.finebooksmagazine.com. They have a nice website with lots of commentary on the current book collecting scene.

Edited: Jul 24, 2012, 10:17 pm

I can hardly believe it but no one has yet mentioned 84 Charingcross Road It is most certainly about books & the love thereof! 8^)

edited for spelling goof

Aug 7, 2012, 2:16 pm

How about The Eyre Affair the Thursday Next series is a great one for bibliophiles!

Aug 10, 2012, 4:28 am

I recently finished The Man who Loved Books too Much.

It was, ok...

Aug 10, 2012, 6:51 am

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh! How have I come to miss this group? Just marking the thread for now but I'll be back.

Aug 10, 2012, 7:08 am

Like Booksloth I have only recently discovered this fantastic thread.

I don't see anything by Umberto Eco. The following are suitable inclusions IMO:
The Name of the Rose which is really aobut the contents of books in a library
The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

This is not the end of the book
The confessions of a young novelist

Jan 10, 2014, 1:21 pm

Nineteenth century American hotels often had a library room. Although I have read widely in the literature of American hotels, I cannot find much, indeed any, information about these libraries. Does anyone have a suggestion as to how to research this topic? (I know this isn't truly "books on books" but it seems closer than any other topic I've found). Thanks Susan Dichter

Jan 10, 2014, 7:20 pm

Speaking of hotel libraries, does anyone know of any Bed and Breakfasts that feature libraries?

Jan 10, 2014, 9:46 pm

I don't like mixing fiction with non-fiction on this subject, but that's just me, and since the original post was so long ago, I doubt it matters.

Nevertheless, here are a couple related lists on the Lists page:


Jan 10, 2014, 10:06 pm

Jan 11, 2014, 6:35 am

I've just had a fun time with Robin Ince's Bad Book Club (n/f).

Jan 11, 2014, 8:13 am

Has anyone read Eugene Field's The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac (Scribners, 1896)?

Jan 13, 2014, 9:26 am


Thank you very much. You have given me more leads than may a reference librarian. Susan Dichter

Jan 13, 2014, 9:27 am


One more question.When you refer to Google Books what do you mean? Susan Dichter

Jan 13, 2014, 9:42 am

Follow the links, they take you to Google's project of digitizing and storing digitized books.

Jan 13, 2014, 1:30 pm

#111 by SusanDichter>

anglemark gave you the answer. To expand briefly, Google Books is a very interesting resource where books in libraries have been scanned and digitized. Viewing it from a U.S. IP address one can see most works created before 1923 that are considered to be public domain here.

It is an exceptionally useful resource, bringing to light works that would be hard to find in any other way. Of course it would be even more helpful if one could see full pages with citations for post-1922 matches. However, wrangling over copyright, even for works which were not renewed, has caused Google to be ultra-cautious and provide no preview or the dread snippet view for more recent things. Fortunately you said that you were interested in 19th Century (and hopefully early 20th Century) examples.

The links I provided will point to the specific pages where "hotel library" is mentioned in some substantial way. Most of these are quite brief. I could not find the one that was the most promising, "A Model Hotel Library" from Public Libraries but if you can look up the publication in a library near you or via ILL, it has the opportunity to describe in detail how such a library would be set up that others might emulate it.

One reference I saw mentioned how a hotel visitor was impressed to find a catalog of the hotel library's holdings in a book next to the bed much the way that you'd find a Bible in many hotels and motels today. That might not be part of the links I posted.


Jan 17, 2014, 7:46 am

James, Once more thank you for your explanation and comments. I will soon pursue the leads you have given me and if of sufficient interest, I'll note something here. As you remarked, Boston is indeed central to the story of hotel libraries --- what is often regarded as the first "modern" hotel, the Tremont in Boston (1829), had a library that was used by guests, and by subscription, by Bostonians. Susan

Mar 8, 2014, 7:35 pm

The Book; A Global History , Edited by Michael F. Suarez, S.J. and H. R. Woudhuysen. This book on books seems to be very interesting if you have an interest in the History of books. I purchased this book instead of the large and very expensive Oxford Companion to the Book from Oxford University Press.

Aug 23, 2014, 5:48 pm

I don't know if this series of books have been mentioned but the Cliff Janeway mysteries by John Dunning are great. Booked to Die, the first in the series is the best in my opinion.

Aug 27, 2014, 8:10 am

I wonder how Dunning's health is coming along???

Nov 22, 2014, 5:44 pm

I didn't know where to put this, 'thought I'd share it though:


Nov 28, 2014, 7:30 pm

The Book of William: How Shakespeare's First Folio Conquered the World.

Mar 11, 2015, 5:57 pm

There is also The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies. And Nick Hornby has several books that compile his Believer column about the books he reads into short non-fiction reads that I enjoy. The first one is Housekeeping vs. the Dirt.

Mar 13, 2015, 4:15 pm

These compilations by Nick Hornby are great! They are very entertaining, and add to one's to-be-read list considerably. There is also a compilation of the compilations that came out last year called Ten Years in the Tub that I'm on my second reading of.

Mar 13, 2015, 8:08 pm

>122 jhicks62: Yeah I was going to buy Ten Years in the Tub until I realized it was a compilation of the other ones. I love reading Hornby's thoughts about the books I have already read. I still have a few books TBR on my shelves because of him.

Believe it or not I've actually never read any of Hornby's fiction. I've only read these non-fiction books including Songbook.

Mar 27, 2015, 2:15 pm

I hate to torment you by making you buy more books, but I compared Ten Years in the Tub to More Baths, Less Talking, his previous collection, and the former contains a few extra months' columns.

Mar 27, 2015, 5:05 pm

>124 jhicks62: I don't think a few more months is worth buying the book. Thank goodness my local library has Ten Years in the Tub. I just now read More Baths, Less Talking.

Jul 31, 2016, 10:00 am

Am going to add Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, the start of a series called The Great Library, a sci-fi, alternative history where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived and is the most powerful organisation in the world. Books are its central premise - it has interesting ideas and is a lot of fun. I couldn't put it down.

Nov 28, 2017, 12:20 pm

Recently published, Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix is a look at the horror novels of the 70s and 80s. Sometimes snarky, sometimes an ode to the authors and artists who turned out the really weird stuff.

Jun 14, 2018, 10:07 am

There are a great number of fascinating books on the subject of books and reading ... Aside from Manguel, my favorite is Nicholas Basbanes A GENTLE MADNESS -- a tome, but very engaging ...

Jun 14, 2018, 10:21 am

This was most informative ... Many of those titles grace my shelves ... And many I'd like to acquire ... I have no idea how to create a similar link to my books on books ... If you had a way to access it, I think you'd find many interesting titles not included in your listing ...

Edited: Jun 14, 2018, 10:47 am

>129 paulgolden: I went to your tags collection and found "books on books." At the bottom of that page is a permanent link.


or, to fancy it up

Paul's Books on Books

Jun 14, 2018, 11:17 am

I posted a small list of Books About Books on this thread nine years ago. Since then, my Books About Books Collection has grown to over 1200 books covering practically all book genres.

Jun 15, 2018, 12:59 pm

I have just one book on books but it is one with charming qualities. My Ideal Bookshelf. Art by Jane Mount. Edited by Thessaly La Force.

Most of the book consists of two-page segments, each having a one-page comment by an accomplished and sometimes famous person (including writers, chefs, actors, musicians, artists, professionals, etc., and skateboarding great Tony Hawk). On the page facing each person’s comment is a painting of a single “ideal” shelf of books selected by that reader. It’s appealing to read and to look at.

Edited: Aug 15, 2020, 4:12 pm

Edited: Aug 15, 2020, 4:25 pm

The Pages & Co. series by Anna James