Category Archives: Book Talk

Books about Books, a short list

‘Books about books’ is my favorite category at the bookstore. It’s often a difficult section to find. Some shops place them in the ‘Collectibles & Antiques’ area. Others in the ‘Essays’ or ‘Reference’ sections. Some of the best book stores will gather all of the books about books under the heading of ‘Literary Non-Fiction’, which seems as appropriate, while the best shops do create a curated “Books About Books” section.

I’ve often wondered why this isn’t the first section every book shop stocks. One can pretty much guarantee that, while not every browsing customer will agree on which hot political book to read or which classic work is the best, every potential customer is someone who appreciates books. Right?

The folks at the LitHub have offered a five-book list The Best Books About Books. I’ve only read Dirda’s Browsings. But I like the sound of Tim Parks’ Where I’m Reading From, so it’s been added to my TBR list.

In hopes that you too are a kindred bookish type, I’d like to offer five books that I think are at the top of the ‘books about books’ category. These are all books I’ve read and continually recommend to folks. On LibraryThing, I keep a running list of the books about books I’ve read and have-yet-to read. My list includes both fiction and non-fiction. Please let me know if you have read a good one that I’ve missed.

Five Fantastic Books About Books

BooksAboutBooks_SMBSo Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance by Gabriel Zaid – This one is only 160 pages and it outlines perfectly many of the challenges that modern publishers and readers face in today’s book world.

 

 

BooksAboutBooks_ELEx Libris : Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman – If there were to be one book on everyone’s books about books list I imagine this 162-page book honoring all that’s beautiful about words and books would be it.

 

 

BooksAboutBooks_YLBSThe Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History by Lewis Buzbee – I can’t quite put my finger on why this book rises so much higher than all the other ‘bookstore memoir’ titles out there, but Buzbee nails just about every feeling and thought I’ve had about bookshops.

 

BooksAboutBooks_LaNThe Library at Night by Alberto Manguel – By far the heaviest and deepest book on my list, Manguel relates the philosophies, histories and importance of book collecting and reading like no one else.

 

 

BooksAboutBooks_HwBAt Home with Books : How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries by Estelle Ellis – This is a big coffee table book full of the most gorgeous and inspiring images of home libraries running alongside great interviews with the people who own them.

 

 

Michael Chabon Has a New Book Coming

We’re about 10 weeks out from the release of Moonglow, Michael Chabon’s new book. It’ll be his most recent book since Telegraph Avenue four years ago.

I have to admit I am pretty excited about this one. While Telegraph Avenue did not exactly “crank my tractor” many of his others have been fan-freaking-tastic. I still find myself recommending The Yiddish Policeman’s Union as well as craving conversation about The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I also enjoyed The Final Solution and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.

moonglow_coverMoonglow follows the implications of a grandfather’s deathbed confession to his grandson as he recounts family tales and relationships. Many people are expecting to see much of Chabon himself in the novel as Chabon was bedside when his own grandfather passed away in the late 1980’s. We’ll see.

So far all we really know is that it’s 432 pages and jumps around from pre-WW II Jewish slums, to Florida to the birth of the U.S. space program. Though we’ve also gotten a glimpse at some of the text thanks to Chabon sharing on Instagram:

moonglow_text

Hopefully it’ll be another good one. Chabon is one of those authors that I always look forward to reading and discussing with others. The book will be in bookstores on November 22, 2016.

New John Grisham Book is FREE

John Grisham has a new book out. It’s short and it’s totally free. You can download the kindle verison straight from Amazon or you can click over to this page and download any file format you want. You can even order a free hard cover copy!

John Grisham download FREEThe book is called “The Tumor” and it has nothing to do with the legal system and probably doesn’t even qualify as a “thriller”. This one is all about cancer and new technology. It’s something that seems near and dear to Grisham’s heart. So he decided to write this 49-page book, partner with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and give it away. All just to help raise awareness about new technology available to fight cancer.

The story follows a 35-year old father of three as he goes through the prognosis and treatment of a brain tumor. Pretty heavy stuff from Grisham.

I haven’t read it yet. Let me know if you have and how the story stacks up.

Southern Voices 2016

Tickets for Southern Voices 2016 go on sale Friday, January 8th. The line-up for the February 26-27, 2016 conference looks solid and will be held at the Hoover Library again this year,

SouthernVoices_LarsonThe big draw this year is Erik Larson who has written seven books and is best known for Devil in the White City, In the Garden of Beasts and the amazing best-selling book Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. Dead Wake topped many bookstores’ “Best Books” lists. For $35, you can join Larson and others for a reception on Friday, February 26th.

The Authors Conference kicks off the next day on Saturday, February 27th and will cost you $40 to get in the door for the day. The Saturday Authors Conference runs from 9a.m.-5p.m. During the day you’ll get to hear writing advice and stories from such notable authors as Natalie Baszile, Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin. Plus, Craig Johnson, Jamie Mason, Laura Lane McNeal and Mark Pryor. It’s a great mix of serious, fun and thriller books.

I have to admit that I was bummed when I saw that this year’s musical guest had to cancel. It’s a shame. She’s great. If you haven’t heard of Kellylee Evans before, you need to watch this video:

How catchy is that? You should also check out her Ordinary People. She has this jazzy blues 60’s pop groove that’s addictive. Maybe Kellylee Evans make it to Birmingham or Hoover someday.

So at 9 a.m. this Friday you can click through to the official site and buy online (the BUY NOW buttons are over in the right sidebar) or you can call  (205) 444-7888. Good luck! Tickets to past Southern Voices events have gone fast.