Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Novels About Books

You’ve been very patient (or maybe you’re just ignoring me). But I did promise a supplemental list of my favorite novels focused on books, so here ya go. It's not comprehensive, but it's mine:

Last year a book came out of Spain that blew my socks off: Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind. Although the plot does revolve around a particular book, I lost my heart in the prologue, with the introduction of the Cemetary of Forgotten Books.

Another favorite of mine was Thomas Wharton’s Salamander, which is a fantastical story involving a quest for a never-ending book.

I’m putting Cold Comfort Farm on the list for a couple of reasons: 1. The main character is planning to use her experiences with the Starkadders as fodder for her novel, 2. It’s a dead on parody of a particular style of book that any English major would be familiar with, and 3. It’s one of my very favorite books, and it’s my list, so nyah!

The Thursday Next novels of Jasper Fforde (The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, and Thursday Next: First Among Sequels) Combine a bookish childhood with an antic sense of the absurd and a serious sense of humor and you get Jasper Fforde. He has created a booklover’s paradise in his little alternate corner of the world, and it’s a treat to spend time there. How can you resist a device that allows the villain to kidnap Jane Eyre (yes, the Jane Eyre)? Or a vast library of book plots overseen by the Cheshire Cat? Or a villain named Jack Schitt? Puns, wordplay, gentle mockery of beloved literary characters; it’s a bookish delight.


La Gringa said...

Shadow of the Wind was AMAZING!!!!!

Peggy Hailey said...

Oh, I agree. I couldn't put it down, and when I finished I wanted to re-read it immediately.

Dominique said...

Thanks for putting up this list. I found this while looking for novels to recommend in our school's required reading list.

Three other books I've read: Fahrenheit 451 (natch!), Mockingbird by Walter Tevis, and Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie.

Ro said...

While trying to recall all of the books I've read to post on my FB page, I could not for the life of me remember Wharton's fine book and found it here. Thank you! I love books about books--not the Fforde stuff though!--and have a couple for you:
Book by Robert Grudin.
Wonder Boys by Chabon.
Foolscap by Michael Malone.

Peggy Hailey said...

It's always good to add more books to the list. I've read Foolscap (I adore Michael Malone--if you haven't read Handling Sin, please do so immediately) & seen the movie for Wonder Boys, but haven't read it yet.

Anonymous said...

Shadow of the Wind was instantly one of my favorites too, and I, too, wanted to know much more about the contents of the Cemetery of Lost Books. But here are some more books that you might want to read to add to your list:

-- Sister of My Heart (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni; the bookshop plays a subtle but relevant and symbolic role)
-- The Tenth Gift (Jane Johnson)
-- The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)
-- The Club Dumas (Sonia Soto)
-- The Book of Lost Things (John Connolly)
-- The History Of Love: A Novel (Nicole Krauss)
-- As We Are Now (May Sarton; its relevance to this list doesn't become clear until the end)
-- The Book Club (Mary Alice Munroe)

I greedily hope that more readers will post their candidates here too, because I do love reading novels in which a book or books -- or reading -- are important and am running out of ones I haven't read yet (I have read some others that I didn't like so well as the ones mentioned above, e.g. The Jane Austen Book Club).

kittens not kids said...

Markus Zusak's *The Book Thief* (technically a Young Adult title, but definitely a crossover) is a book about books. It's terrific.

This is a good list - it came up when I googled novels about books - thanks for compiling!