Thursday, June 15, 2017

More books about books and reading

I promised more books for the bibliographically "afflicted," so here is another list of titles to add to my previous post on books about books for those who love them. Some of these verge on Chick Lit, while others are incredibly complex philosophical explorations of the written word, and there's even some nonfiction:

The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett

Queen Elizabeth, in search of her beloved corgis, stumbles upon a bookmobile near the palace. She feels compelled by good manners to check out a book, which she struggles through, returns, and again feels compelled to take out another. But this one she enjoys! This behavior is out of character for the Queen, who has previously allowed herself few hobbies or interests that express a preference for anything, and now here she is, preferring books, which habit begins to influence the person she is and how she reigns and interacts with her subjects. Not everyone approves, however; politicians and staff collaborate to steer her away from this selfish, isolating, alienating addiction! A charming and clever novella that contains some astringent commentary within its simple story.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend,
by Katarina Bivald

Sara travels all the way from Sweden to small-town Iowa to meet her penpal, Amy, only to discover that it's the day of Amy's funeral. The town's residents rally around to make her feel better, and she ends up staying in Amy's home, surrounded by Amy's wide-ranging collection of books. She doesn't want to return to Sweden, so she decides to open up one of the depressed town's abandoned storefronts and sell Amy's books. But she's in the United States on a tourist visa...

The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler   

Set in California's Central Valley, this book follows the stories of five women and one man who start a book club to read and discuss the novels of Jane Austen. The action takes place over a six-month period, during which many interpersonal issues (some of which reflect what's happening within the novels of Austen) take place among and between these fans. This is a book about people who love reading and love talking about reading. It's a little satirical, and apparently not for everyone--there are some passionate expressions both for and against in the review on Goodreads! Try it for yourself (or chicken out and watch the movie).

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,
by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

A book based on letters between a London writer and a man on the island of Guernsey immediately after World War II. He finds her name and address in a used book, and writes to her about the literary club he and his friends formed to evade the curfew imposed by the German occupying force of their island. A celebration of the written word.

The Reading Group, by Elizabeth Noble

Five English women form a book club. Over the course of a year, they read 12 novels, and through their discussions they bond while coping with life events that sometimes mirror the events of the books they choose to read.

If On A Winter's Night A Traveler, by Italo Calvino

This is a book about why people read, how they read, what reading does for them, and how readers interact with writers. It is an experimental novel that is simultaneously a work of philosophy, stories within stories within stories, and one reviewer on Goodreads opined that the movie could only be directed by David Lynch! If you read it, I want a book review from you afterwards!

The Bookseller of Kabul, by Åsne Seierstad   (nonfiction)

In spring 2002, following the fall of the Taliban, Åsne Seierstad spent four months living with a bookseller and his family in Kabul, Afghanistan. For more than 20 years the bookseller, Sultan Khan, defied the authorities (communist or Taliban) to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned by the communists, and watched illiterate Taliban soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. Although this book is ostensibly about censorship and courage, it is a politically controversial book. The bookseller's admirable fight against censorship is offset by his traditional (i.e., oppressive) views about women, and there is also the contention by some readers that a young, white, liberal Norwegian woman couldn't possibly adequately translate Afghan society for the world through a four-month stay with one family. But the book is a bestseller and an award-winner, so try it for yourself.

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   (nonfiction)

A journalist befriends both an obsessive (and successful) book thief and the book dealer (and self-appointed detective) determined to catch him.

A Novel Bookstore, by Laurence Cossé

Francesca, the lonely but wealthy Italian wife of a Parisian captain of industry, and Ivan, an indigent seller of comic books and classic novels, combine forces to open a bookstore in the heart of Paris that has one simple goal: to sell only good novels. They form a secret committee of eight celebrated writers, asking each to submit a list of six hundred titles. These dictate the inventory that fills the shelves of The Good Novel Bookstore. Imagine what happens when the publishing industry and the "literati" get wind of this pair who are daring to narrowly define what constitutes a good novel--especially when their enterprise is successful!

BPL doesn't own this one, but I'm putting in a request.

The Book of Air and Shadows, by Michael Gruber  

A literary mystery, in which a fire in an antiquarian bookstore reveals a cache of letters containing a secret about William Shakespeare that puts intellectual property lawyer Jake Mishkin in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy.

Voices, by Ursula K. LeGuin  

Ansul was a peaceful town filled with libraries and books before the Alds came. The conquerors didn't just pillage the town and rape its occupants, they burned all the books and set up an oppressive regime under which the people of Ansul suffer. Memer, an orphan who is a product of the rape of an Ansul woman by an Ald, has a secret bond with the Waylord, who hides and preserves books for his people. LeGuin explores the role of the occupier and the occupied, the double-edged sword of religion as a force of peace and war, and the value of storytelling to transform the lives of individuals and their culture. This is the second book of The Annals of the Western Shore series, but can be read as a stand-alone. (in Young Adult Fiction)

If you are enrolled in the Summer Reading Club for Grown-ups, don't forget to review these books for 5 points per review. If you rack up 20 points, you will be entered in a drawing for some large, valuable prizes at the end of the summer! (If you are not enrolled, it's easy to do so. Go here, scroll down to the Grown-ups' program, and register.) And of course, this goes for any teens reading these titles as well!

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