Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 7: Books About Books!

Welcome to Day 7 in our 24 Days of Books. Today we present books about books for the true book lover on your list. These seven books will appeal anyone who believes in the importance of story in our lives, and to those who love physical books and bookstores you can actually walk into and browse, pulling books off the shelves.

The books that we choose to keep -- let alone read -- can say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves. My Ideal Bookshelf is both a coffee table book of art and a fascinating glimpse into the books that matter the most to a wide variety of leading cultural figures. With text edited by Thessaly La Force and art by Jane Mount, the book devotes a two-page spread to each person, with one devoted to commentary about the books and the facing page presenting a charming original painting of that person's imaginary shelf.

Some contributors present a neat, tidy shelf with minimal books, such as author Francine Prose, whose shelf contains Chekhov, Chekhov, and some more Chekhov -- and Max and the monster dolls from Where the Wild Things Are. While others are all over the map, such as actor/writer/artist/filmmaker James Franco, who conjures up a higgly piggly pile of novels, short stories and plays. This gorgeous, hardover book ($24.99) is published by Little Brown and Company.

In My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read and Shop, edited by Ronald Rice, more than eighty well-known writers pay enthusiastic and heartfelt tribute to bookstores and booksellers, waxing poetic on the brick-and-mortar stores they love and often call their second homes -- Edith Pearlman and Nancy Pearl, Ivan Doig and Abraham Verghese, and even our very own Chuck Palahniuk, all talking about bookstores. What could be better than that?

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce is a picture book that will knock your socks off. This book inspired the Academy Award-winning short film of the same name and reminds us that in today’s world of traditional books, eBooks, and apps, it’s still the story that we truly celebrate. As Publishers Weekly describes it, the book tells the store of  "a dreamy bibliophile named Morris Lessmore, who loses his cherished book collection to a cataclysmic storm that’s half Katrina (Joyce is from Louisiana) and half Wizard of Oz....[Eventually], Morris finds an abandoned library whose books are alive and whose covers beat like the wings of birds. They flutter around him protectively, watch as he starts writing again, and care for him as he ages." The book is a charming must-have for any booklover, regardless of age.

A quirky little novel that is both thoughtful and gleeful, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is simultaneously a mystery and an ode to bookstores and "old" knowledge (versus "Google" knowledge), mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall independent bookstore in San Francisco. Can tangible books and new media exist happily side by side? With a plot "as tight as nesting boxes, or whatever their digital equivalent," the book has been described as clever, whimsical, beguiling, and big-hearted. Author Nick Harkaway calls it "the love child of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and Neal Stepheson's Reamde. How can you resist with a description like that?

Monsieur Proust’s Library by Anka Muhlstein is an erudite and entertaining introduction to the life and work of Marcel Proust through the books he read, providing not only a friendly introduction to the momentous In Search of Lost Time but also exciting highlights of some of the finest work in French literature.

What are some of your favorite books you've been given? Often, the gift of a book becomes part of the story of your life. The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit by Jen Adams is a mixtape of stories behind books given and received. Some of the stories are poignant, some snarky, some romantic, some disastrous—but all are illuminating. Romantic, funny and cathartic, this is a collection of people falling in love, regretting mistakes, and finding hope through books -- above all an uplifting testament to the power of literature.

The Little Book of Books by Jennifer Worick is a pocket-sized, leather-bound collection of book-related quotes, facts, and categories of book to explore, from “Magical Reads” to “Good Books for Bad Days” to “Literary Love” -- a book you will want to have handy whenever you visit a bookstore or library.

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