Top 10 Books About Books

Home / Top 10 Books About Books - 26th January 2020 , by lancastersteve

For a bookworm like me, there’s nothing quite like reading a book about books. It provides fuel to sate the reading appetite, more piles of books for your To Be Read List, and it’s fun and interesting to hear the opinions of fellow bookworms past and present. Here’s a 10 books about books to keep you reading.

  1. bibliophile1. Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount – This wonderful book had to be my first book. It has all sorts of Bookish miscellany in and is beautifully illustrated. There’s illustrations of famous bookshops, quizzes and book facts. The main part of the book is lavishly illustrated piles of books in different genres on on page, with descriptions on the opposite page. This a book has the potential to add hundreds of books to your To Read List.

2. Jacob’s Room is Full of Books by Susan Hill – This is a month by month diary of sorts, about books, reading and the literary world, as well as observations on nature and the world around her, written by prolific and bestselling author Susan Hill (Author of Woman in Black, the Simon Serrallier crime novels, and tonnes more besides. She also talks about various writer friends of hers too. A really lovely book to dip into, or read month by month throughout the year.

3. A Pound of Paper by John Baxter – I first read this book more than a decade ago. It was written in 2005, and is about books as physical objects, and particularly the world of book collecting. This is a fascinating story, with some very interesting (and real) bibliophile characters. It makes me a little sad too, because book collecting just isn’t the same these days, when almost any book is available online – for a price. Still, a fascinating read.

4. The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin – Do you remember those medical encyclopedias that people used to have on their shelves in the days before Google? You’d look up whatever ailments you had, and it might, if you were lucky, tell you what you had and how to cure it? Well this is that book, but for stress, anxiety and other mental ailments – and the rather novel cure are, well, novels. That’s right, whatever you are suffering from, whether bereavement, stress, or anger, this book will suggest what novels to read to help you get better. How good is that?

5. When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning – During World War 2, there was a lot of boring downtime for soldiers, in trenches, waiting for D-Day and so on. There were no DVD players or video games, so how did they pass the time? Read of course! The American war department launched a program to print over 120 million lightweight paperbacks for troops overseas, with 1,200 titles. It helped rescue classic books from obscurity and launched the careers of some authors. This is the story of that program and some of the books it contained.

6. An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton – The Hugo Awards are science fiction’s greatest literary award, and bestselling SF author Jo Walton takes a personal look back at almost 50 years of award winning stories, nominees, and those that should have won. It includes novels, novellas and short stories and is a great guide to half a century of the best science fiction books. Great for dipping in and out of.

7. The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler – This is a wonderful book featuring 100 authors who the writer of this volume considers to be authors who have been forgotten by the mainstream readership, and slipped into a quiet obscurity. Amusingly (or perhaps sadly), he considers himself to be one too, no. 101. In a page or two, he describes briefly the author and some of their books, and in many of the cases a short reflection on why he thinks they might be forgotten today. This is great for finding some forgotten classics, though they probably aren’t on Kindle, and you might need to hunt out a second hand copy on Ebay!

8. Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan – This book perhaps differs from the rest on this list, as it probably won’t add too many books on to your TBR list. Though there may be some you want to re-read, and if you’ve got children or grandchildren, there’s plenty of books you’ll want to buy for or read to them.

9. The Library Book by Susan Orlean – The story of the fire on the morning of April 29th 1986 at the Los Angeles Public Library is hard to take for any bibliophile. After the fire was put out, 400,000 volumes were destroyed, and 700,000 more damaged. How the fire happened and whether it was deliberate is still a mystery. In this book, the author investigates the fire, while at the same time telling the story of libraries more generally.

10. The Pleasure of Reading edited by Antonia Fraser – This is a short pieces by 40 bestselling authors on why they love reading, what got them into read, etc. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, and as it is almost 30 years since it was published there’s no younger authors on the list. But it’s a really interesting mix to dip into.

Hope this list has given you plenty of bookish reading to enjoy!

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This site is mostly about books, short stories and reading and writing generally. As well as writing about books I occasionally write on other topics I’m interested in – check out the Misc section to find out more.