For the last couple of months the book blogging world has been enthralled by The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I’m only 1/3 in so I can’t say much about it yet, but one of the reasons why everyone seems to love it (and rightly so!) is that it pays homage to reading, readers and the books we all love.
If you have already read The Starless Sea and are wondering what to do with yourself, or would simply like to read more books on this theme, here are 10 books to keep you going:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I imagine many readers have heard of Liesel, the girl who is sent to live with foster parents in the German countryside during the second world war and who catches Death’s attention by stealing a book. A must-read for any book lover.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Not only has protagonist Margaret Lea grown up in a second-hand book store, she is also an amateur biographer, tasked to interview a mysterious author who is finally willing to share the story of her life. If anyone can appreciate a good book, it’s Margaret!
The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin. This is not a work of fiction but a self-help book that lists any ailment you could possibly have and advises you which book to read. Itchy feet? The Odyssey. Carelessness? The Little Prince. Pessimism? Robinson Crusoe. You name it.
The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. When Daniel Sempere was a young boy, his father took him to the cemetery of forgotten books, where he, like every new initiate, got to choose a book to keep forever and protect with his life. Problem is, someone is tracking down all books by this author and burning them…
A secret society that collects forgotten books and stores them in a mysterious, labyrinth like library? Yes please!
The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas. This is one of the trippiest books I have ever read. It tells the story of Ariel Manto who finds an extremely rare copy of 19th century book in a second-hand bookshop. The book is rumoured to be cursed, everyone who reads it dies soon afterwards. What follows is a chase, a homeopathic formula that allows the user to travel into a different dimension and a lot of reading people’s thoughts…
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Even though the society which gives this book its name was originally only a cover for breaking curfew during the German occupation, this novel is definitely very bookish. Juliet’s letter exchange with Dawsey starts over a shared love for Charles Lamb and she travels to the island to capture this interesting group of people in —you guessed it— a book.
Matilda by Roald Dahl. Do I even need to explain this one? We all love this wonderful girl who reads grown-up books and moves objects with her mind. I imagine people do reading challenges of all the books she reads, just like they do for Rory Gilmore. That’s a lot of Charles Dickens, though, yuck.
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. We have all read this one, haven’t we? But hear me out. The bookishness of HP6 doesn’t only lie in Harry’s sudden interest in reading his Potions book before bed, but in the overall theme of critical reading.
Harry doesn’t read critically and follows the prince’s instructions to the letter, leading to his almost killing Draco Malfoy. Even though we are constantly nudged to think of Hermione as too bitter and too much into ‘the real rules’ to understand why the Half-Blood Prince’s book is so cool, she’s clearly much more sensible than Harry. In the earlier books in the series she has discovered that she cannot completely rely on books anymore (think, for example, of the omission of house-elf slavery in Hogwarts: A History) and she is trying to put Harry on his guard.
Tintenherz by Cornelia Funke (Inkheart in English). This is the first book in a German trilogy in which the protagonist’s dad can read aloud so beautifully that he accidentally reads people into the book and characters out of it. What would you do if one of the criminals from your favourite fairy tale suddenly came alive?
(* This book lives in my childhood home so I couldn’t take a picture with it.)
S. by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams. This book is a story on top of a story. Its first layer is a sailor’s mysterious quest to find his own identity after he wakes up without any memories. The second layer are the notes in the margins that tell the love story of two people who keep checking this book out of the library.
I must add as a disclaimer that I haven’t made it all the way through this book yet. The first layer is good enough, but the notes in the margins are very hard to piece together into a narrative, and therefore more interesting as a concept than in practice. It is such an original idea though, that I do want to share it with you.
What do you think?
Have you read any of these books? How did you find them? Do you know any other books about books & book lovers? Let’s chat in the comments!