Stories for Those Whose Passion is Books

For those of us who are familiar with bibliographic terms such as ‘signature,’ ‘quarto,’ or ‘catchword,’ there are books out there whose protagonists are just as in love with books as we are. Please enjoy these recommendations below:

The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett (2013)
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Of the books recommended here, this one has the strongest focus on the details of bookbinding. The story has a lot of bibliographic detective work, as well as a strong link to Shakespeare, and is a gripping page-turner to boot!

The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1993; English translation published in 1996)
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There is more detective work in this book as well, with three potential forgeries of a seventeenth-century book whose author was burned at the stake. Interesting details on the life of Alexandre Dumas add to the educational value of this novel, but more of a focus on the occult in the last quarter of the book made me enjoy it slightly less towards the end. But nevertheless, this is a riveting read.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2001; English translation published in 2004)
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There are fewer bookishly technical terms in this book, although the protagonist works in a bookshop owned by his father, and has a deep love for books. This is not a light-hearted read by any stretch of the imagination, but the author’s delightful turn of phrase had me chuckling out loud many times throughout. Mystery, cruelty, love, redemption and books fill a full 487 pages, and will be very difficult to put down once you start it.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)
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This story also features a protagonist who loves books and whose father owns a bookstore. It tells the story of a famous author who is at the end of her life, and her story really does not relate to books, except that it is being made into one. However, it is still an intricately woven tale that keeps you guessing until the very end.

The Cat Who . . . warms your heart

Has anyone out there read The Cat Who . . . series by Lilian Jackson Braun? I have to admit that these books are my guilty pleasure. They first came to my attention in 2010, although the first one was written in 1966. And that is partly why I was drawn to them – they are glimpses into the past. The series’ main character, Qwilleran, is a newspaper man in the first few books, and I loved reading about the typewriters and pencils that filled the room where the journalists churned out all their stories. Such a place is so far removed from the computers and digital layouts of today, that that alone is interesting enough to keep me reading. But then came the cats, hence the guilty pleasure. Qwilleran ends up adopting two cats, one each in the first two books of the series. And that first cat has a sixth sense… Or does he?
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There is a gap of 18 years between the third book (1968) and the fourth (1986), and from then on they came out very regularly until 2007. Reading through the developments of electronic library catalogues and cell phones, cats who help solve murder mysteries, and a little town “400 miles north of everywhere,” is what makes these books such a joy to read. They warm the heart and they don’t require too much from the reader. I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a quirky read, or who needs something to calm the soul and bring a smile.
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