My friend Sally Allen at Hamlet Hub Westport keeps coming out with great posts about books, reading and writing. Here’s last week’s, which I thought was a propos, since it’s time to be thinking about what to get our book-loving friends for Christmas or Hanukkah. here’s the beginning of the article – click on the title to read the rest of it.
What serious book nerd doesn’t love a reading memoir? This is when you read a book about someone else reading books. If this sounds a little postmodern, well, yes. But it’s great!
Besides exponentially expanding your reading list (gulp), books about books provide insight into and create a conversation around how reading matters to different readers, which is just about as fun to talk about as plot and character, setting and mood. The serious book nerd has his or her own ideas, of course, but experiencing the multiple iterations of reading’s value expands the sense of possibility.
How popular is this kind of book? One page at goodreads.com lists—wait for it—418 books about books. I’m going to provide a much shorter list of great books about books, and they were all released this year.
“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan
After art school graduate Clay Jannon loses his job designing logos for a bagel company, he takes a job working the late shift in the titular 24-hour bookstore whose most requested inventory is books written in a mysterious, indecipherable code. As Clay works to uncover the relationship between his quirky customers and their books, he draws on the resources of his friends, wrestles with the limits of technology, and discovers the nature of immortality.
Sloan’s debut novel reads like a delightful mystery (meaning no one is killed), with a cast of imperfect but kind and ethical characters pooling their knowledge and traveling across the country to help Clay discover the secret behind the bookstore’s existence. But what they really find is the meaning of life. If you like to feel good after you finish the last page of a book, you will probably adore this novel.
My favorite read of 2012, it’s a multi-layered story that also has one of the best last lines ever. And did I mention the cover glows in the dark? It’s a metaphor.
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