YET ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT BOOKS

Although my main emphasis for 2020 is to complete Dollycas’s 2020 Alphabet Soup Challenge, author edition, ALPHABET-SOUP-2020-AUTHOR-EDITION-BE-820to read 20 books in 2020 recommended by fellow bloggers, and to clear my TBR shelves to a manageable number of books (which I have already done), I still continue 2019’s goals of reading more non-fiction as well as Books about Books.

 

The Book I completed tonight is Charles Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale, which is described by the cover as Novel of Obsession. An old-fashioned romance, book-themed mystery, and dramatic who-done-it, aka Agatha-Christie-style, ending, this novel was a fun read. At a little over 300 pages, it alternated chapters between Peter, the protagonist, as a young man; Peter as a bereaved widow; and bookbinders, booksellers, and book forgers who were contemporaries of Shakespeare. Throw in the protagonist with a new love interest trapped in an underground tunnel (that connects two enemies’ manor houses) and arriving the end to be met with a self-confessed murderer aiming a pistol at them, and the reader is on his way to a bang up ending. (Sorry, I couldn’t restrain myself!)

Lovett wrote this book in 2013, but it appeals to readers of all sexes and all ages who enjoy books, bookstores, booksellers, and revelations from those who are obsessed with the authorship and collecting of books. It is an excellent read.

FRIDAY FIRST LINERS

Join in with those of us bloggers who participate in First Line Fridays by copying the first line or two of what you are currently reading. Get responses from readers as to whether they’d be “hooked” by those lines.

Today’s Friday First Liner is from Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale, yet another of my Books about Books reads:

“Wales could be cold in February. Even without snow or wind the damp winter air permeated Peter’s topcoat and settled in his bones as he stood outside one of the dozens of bookshops that crowded the narrow streets of Hay.”  BRRRRRR. Read on and find a warm story of a true bibliophile.

TUESDAY TEASER

Tuesday Teaser is hosted by The Purple Booker and asks participants to copy a sentence or two from where they are currently reading in hopes of teasing other readers to read the same book.

My teaser today is from one of my Books about Books challenge, Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale.

“In a box in the dusty back room of a local antique shop, Peter discovered an early edition of George McDonald’s fantasy novel, At the Back of the North Wind. The book was illustrated by the Pre-Raphaelite follower, Arthur Hughes…This would be the first book Peter would give Amanda…a perfect candidate for rebinding.”

I am following Peter, an introverted book collector and binder who meets the love of his life, Amanda, only to lose her later in the book. There is mystery, romance, and bibliophilic devotion involved in this 2013 novel.

MORE BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS, AND THIS TIME, A LIBRARIAN

I read a large number of books about books, bookstores, libraries, librarians, and everything “bookish” last year. It was a fun indulgence and one that I really enjoyed. Recently, at our local library, I spotted a book with a “body-builder” guy lifting a huge load of books titled, The World’s Strongest Librarian. Looking closer, I read the subtitle,”A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and Family.” Josh Hanagarre, the book’s author tells his fascinating tale of how he became a librarian, manages his Tourette’s, has a fairly “normal” life with a wife and family, and is a champion weight lifter and expert at strengthening exercises.

After I had read the first few chapters which described a happy, uneventful boyhood in a family-centered, Mormon home in Utah, I began to read of his devotion to his Mormon faith and thought, “Uh-oh, here comes a lot of Mormon propaganda.” I almost put down the book, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Told honestly and sometimes brutally, Hanagarre describes his onset of Tourette’s and his loss of faith. (No, he doesn’t miraculously get it back and everything ends happily ever after–another interesting turn of his story.) His acceptance of his disability and his control (to a degree) of it through excruciating exercises and weight lifting provides a tale of courage, perseverance,  and determination.

Although the anecdotes about peculiar happenings and patrons of a big city library are expected, Josh’s handling of both proves he is “not your average librarian.” The book is humorous, touching, introspective, and interesting the entire way through. I am going to count this memoir as my non-fiction read for February (The Church of Small Things being  my January non-fiction read.) I had originally hoped to read 12 non-fiction books in 2020 (the same number I aimed for and exceeded in 2019), but now I am aiming for one non-fiction book per month.

Have you read any non-fiction lately I would enjoy? Please let me know in the reply section below.

MORE BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS

What better than a book set in a small library n a small town, whose main character is a librarian? The Library of Lost and Found, a 2019 novel by Phaedra Patrick, her debut novel, is, as critics claim, “Eccentric, charming and wise.” The “local” librarian, Martha Storm has lost her chance at finding true love since she cared for her elderly parents (while working at the town library) until their deaths, and until she is firmly established as everyone’s favorite “old maid”. Everyone agrees she is the person to ask if you need help or a favor, for she has “all the time in the world” and “nothing better to do.” Martha still lives in her parents’ home, which looks like something out of a hoarder’s nightmare because she does not have the time or energy to go through her parents’ things; plus, her living and dining room are cluttered with “projects” she has taken on for other people: pants to hem for her sister’s son since the sister doesn’t have time, a paper mâché dragon’s head to repair for the theater department of the local high school, and on and on.

Actually, this is not just the story of things that get lost in Martha’s house, but of how she has lost herself and finds herself, as well as a second chance at love. Library has been called “…a hymn to books and how they can bring love even miracles into your life.” And they do just that in Martha’s life. The thing I like best about Martha’s development and reformation is how she “writes her own happy ending.” I highly recommend The Library of Lost and Found.

BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS 2020 Version

In 2018 and 2019, I read many books about bookstores, libraries, and books in general.  I enjoyed this so much I am going to continue in 2020 to read “books about books.” One of these I have read since New Year’s Day is Goodnight June by Sarah Rio. Yes, it is based on the children’s classic, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. This novel is based on Jio’s “take” on how the children’s classic may have come to be. The protagonist, June Anderson, librarian, inherits her Great Aunt Ruby’s bookstore which specializes in children’s books. June discovers letters written by her Aunt Ruby to Margaret Wise Brown written in the 40s that are the key to family secrets and will unlock a change in June’s character that will keep the reader cheering for the altruistic librarian. A touch of romance rounds out this author’s engaging tale and provides a “darned good read.”

MY LFE WITH BOB by Pamela Paul: A Review

This 2017 publication represents my favorite genre, Books about Books. Bob is not tall, dark and handsome; in fact, Bob is not even a man. BOB stands for Book of Books, a “bound record of everything [the author] has read or didn’t quite finish since the summer of 1988, my junior year of high school.” Each chapter revolves around the title of a book that coordinates with a period n the author’s life.  I once read a book that revolved around fashions, which declared that women might forget names and dates of certain events n their lives, but they will always remember what they were wearing. This author catalogs periods and events in her life by what she was reading at the time.

The introduction states, “Bob offers immediate access to where I’ve been psychologically and geographically at any given moment in my life… Each entry conjures a memory that might otherwise have gotten lost or blurred with time.” The first book remembered is  Brave New World, read in high school, and continues from there. Books place the author in Paris, Thailand, and many places around the world, and the reader is given a glimpse of the author’s life through her reactions to the books she reads.

For me, this was a fun read that satisfied my inner book-nerd and allowed me to enjoy a memoir at its most creative form.  I give this one five stars our of five stars.

BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS CHALLENGE 2019 and previously read Books about Books

I took on an informal, personal challenge inspired by a Random House list and a post by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz to read as many books about books as I could during 2019. Here is a list of what I read:

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.  I listened to this one by audio book and enjoyed it immensely. The narration was exceptionally well done.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett was a non-fiction account of a criminal who stole first editions and antique books and the detective who finally arrested him. It was a fascinating look into the criminal mind and the obsessive mind of the detective who never gave up.

The Little Paris Bookstore by Nina George, a novel by Nina George was one of my favorites. I mean, books, Paris, a book-doctor who could “prescribe” a book for what ails you–what’s not to love ? I read this prior to 2019, but enjoyed it so much I had to mention it in this post.

I digested the Jane Austin Book club in movie form and was a delighted by the romantic and klutzy hero.

Prior to 2019 I enjoyed The Fault Is in Our Stars and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, both selections from our Third Tuesday Book Club.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Schwalbe was a non-fiction/memoir centered around books that I enjoyed enough to recommend to the book club. They enjoyed it too.

A few years back, a student recommended Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief. I rarely read a book a second time, but I re-read it in 2019 after seeing the movie, and I nominate it as a “Best Read of a Lifetime.”

The Library Book by Susan Orlean was another I read (as soon as it came out) and recommended to my book club. Another book club I frequently sit in on also read it, and the verdict was unanimous, best non-fiction of 2019!

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jerry Colgan was an audio book I listened to in 2019. It was a attention-keeping endeavor I enjoyed greatly. Often when I listen to an audio book, my mind wanders, not with this one, I cared a great deal about the characters and wanted to know what happened to them.

Prior to 2019, I read 84 Charring Cross Road by Helene Hoff, a classic, epistolary that speaks to bibliophiles everywhere.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was part of my Alphabet Soup Challenge of 2019, and was an intriguing read.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine brought me to a new-to-me author and back to fantasy after a long hiatus from this genre.

Parnassus on Wheels and The Haunted Bookshop by Christoper Moorely were classics I read and listened to (in backwards order) in 2019. Although I read Haunted Bookstore first, then listened to the characters’ back story afterwards, it was a wonderful reading experience overall.

Recently I finished and placed in my Little Free Library both Life with Bob by Pamela Paul (Bob stands for Book of Books) and Goodnight June, a speculative novel by Sarah Io (an author I had never read but expect to seek out in 2020), based on the children’s classic Goodnight Moon.

All of these books are reviewed on PWR, so type ones you are interested in into the search bar at the top of the post and start reading some Books about Books in 2020!

 

BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS CHALLENGE CONTINUED

Recently I read and reviewed The Haunted Bookstore by Christopher Morely, a classic from WWII days. It led me to the audiobook of Morely’s previous book, Parnassus on Wheels. Parnassius tells the story of Roger Mifflin, bookstore owner extraordinaire, before his bookstore days and how he met and courted Mrs. Mifflin. Like a tinker of those days, Mifflin traveled from town to town, selling used books instead of pots and pans, his gaudy cart pulled by a decrepit old nag, Pegasus. [His] “delight in books and authors is infectious.”

When he visits a local author and “gentleman farmer,” he finds the author off gathering material for his latest book and the author’s sister capably running the farm in his absence. Parnassus is the story of HER adventure.  She is a delightful recently-turned “feminist”–from the perspective of the early 1900s. She buys Parnassus on Wheels and travels (unescorted) with Mifflin as her passenger and guide, and the rest is a hilarious narrative that brings together the two perfectly matched individuals whom we meet as a couple in The Haunted Bookstore.

I seldom use the word “quaint” when I describe a book, but this lovely pair, Parnassus on Wheels and The Haunted Bookstore are just that–and a darned fine read!

ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT BOOKS: A Review

Recently I read another “book about books,” Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, book two of “The Great Library Series.” Originally written for young adults and in the “steampunk” tradition, the book appeals to young and older readers alike. It is an Alternate History, where the great library of Alexandria survived, instead of burning, and by the time of this novel, it is all-powerful and in complete control of all knowledge. Personal ownership of books is forbidden although people have access through tablet-like devices to the words and world of books. This situation makes black-market books, especially old ones, very big business.

The story opens as Jess, a young bookrunner, is being chased by Library Gardas and automatons across the busy marketplace. With the help of his twin brother, Brendan, who is described as “a schemer,” Jess escapes. Shortly afterward, the boys’ father sends Jess into “Library Service” to spy on its activities and to determine the location of ancient books, so Brendan can steal them to further the family’s illegal business. Jess’s training is rigorous, and he ends up making friends with other candidates who compete against him. Exciting book-related and library-related adventures ensue, and one turns the pages with anxiety and even dread at times. Action-fueled scenes bring the fatal “Greek Fire” of the alchemists, an encounter with an inklicker, and many encounters with bookburners The Library is seeking to prosecute.

Jess and his friends are well-drawn, and the author makes the reader care about what happens to each of them, even the ones who at the beginning are arrogant or worse. Characterization, a skill I seek in every book I read, is second only to the fast-paced, breath-holding pace of the action and plot. This is a fun read and promises much in the next book of “The Great Library Series.”