Category Archives: Recommendations

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.

 

 

National Science Fiction Day 2016

So yesterday was National Science Fiction Day for 2016. It’s not exactly a major holiday… yet… but it’s fun to celebrate nonetheless. An hey – if enough blog posts start mentioning it and the right publishers get behind it we could have us a real holiday one day. Though January 2nd would be a tough sell I have to admit. It’s just a little too close to the Christmas & New Year’s Eve to be of any fun.

But it’s the day that the grand poobah of the galaxy Isaac Asimov was born back in 1920. So it’s probably as good of a day as any to celebrate science fiction writing.

So in honor of Asimov’s awesome encyclopedic legacy, I’d like to share my three favorite science fiction books I read last year. I have to admit that it’s getting harder to figure out what is “science fiction” these days. So many books have elements of the future, time travel, dragons, etc. that science fiction is teetering on becoming mainstream. But that’s a post for another day.

If you’re looking for a good sci-fi read to kick off 2016, then check these out:

TimeSalvagerTime Salvager by Wesley Chu I thought this book was great fun. It does fall in the time travel category. It has a couple of common sense and unique solutions for dealing with many of the common issues with time travel, which I thought clever. Also, it’s the first in a series so it’s a great time to jump on board.

 

 

BoneClocksThe Bone Clocks by David Mitchell I finally got around to reading this and so glad I did. While I’m not one for “psychic powers” stuff, the writing is incredible and the way Mitchell loops everything together is almost a superpower. It’s a big book. So if you want to dip your toes then I’d recommend reading Slade House. It’s set in the Bone Clocks universe, but no necessarily a sequel. I think you’ll enjoy Slade House more if you read it second, but no harm in using it as an appetizer to see if it’s for you.

SevenevesSeveneves by Neal Stephensen – this book might very well be the most epic science fiction book I’ve ever read. It is Asimov-like in scope and skill. So very good. There definitely falls in the hard sci-fi column. So expect pages of scientists and engineers debating orbits, trajectories, etc. but you can skim that stuff if your eyes start to gloss over. The story is huge. It tracks humanity thousands of years into the future after the Earth is made uninhabitable.

That’s it! I am a huge fan of science fiction and speculative fiction. So please let me know of any fantastic reads that you’ve found. I’ll add them to my list.

Happy belated National Science Fiction Day!

Five Upcoming Books I’m Excited About

The upcoming year is proving to be chock full of good books. Below is my short list of five upcoming books I can’t wait to read and it begins with a bit of breaking news. . .

Just last night, on his blog, author Nicholas Carr revealed Utopia is Creepy:

UtopiaIsCreepy

Nothing else is given or known, but it’s one I can’t wait to read. His last book The Glass Cage was fantastic and I highly recommend it to every adult with a functioning brain. Carr has written other best sellers, but Glass Cage really makes you think and reconsider the technology that is about to infect your world. I can only anticipate more of the same. Utopia Is Creepy by Nicholas Carr is out sometime in 2016.

LostTimeAccidentsThe Lost Time Accidents: A Novel by John Wray
Release date: February 9, 2016

Coming in at 512 pages, Wray’s upcoming book won’t be the fastest read of the year, but read the first paragraph of the promo copy:

“In his ambitious and fiercely inventive new novel, The Lost Time Accidents, John Wray takes us from turn-of-the-century Viennese salons buzzing with rumors about Einstein’s radical new theory to the death camps of World War Two, from the golden age of postwar pulp science fiction to a startling discovery in a Manhattan apartment packed to the ceiling with artifacts of modern life.”

How can that not be a fun book? I hear the story spans three generations and all the war, old-school mysteries and love affairs that three lifetimes demand.The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray hits bookstore shelves on February 9, 2016.

BadAssLibrariansThe Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer
Release date: April 19, 2016

This one wins for best title and for the fact that it’s a true story! It tells the tale of some super-brave librarians in 2012 Timbuktu who hid ancient manuscripts from Al Qaeda as the terrorists were ransacking museums and libraries. The Bad-Ass Librarians hit the streets on April 19, 2016.

HourOfLandThe Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams
Release date: June 7, 2016

Here is the other non-fiction on my short list of awesome upcoming books. The U.S. National Park System turns 100 this year. The Hour of Land contains 12 stories showing us why the parks and the great outdoors are important today in this increasingly facebook-centered world. You can pick it up from your local book shop on June 7, 2016.

TimeSiegeTime Siege by Wesley Chu
Release date: July 12, 2016

This is the second book in Chu’s newest series. The first book Time Salvager came out last year and wound up being one of my favorite sci-fi books of 2015. If you like time travel tales, this series is a good one so far. The Chronomen are back in business July 12, 2016.

Nonfiction November – Week Four

I’ve been participating in Nonfiction November this month and it’s been great. So many new-to-me bloggers in my RSS reader now plus plenty of new titles added to Mount TBR and to my wish list. Which brings us to the week four’s topic being hosted by Katie over on Doing Dewey:

New to My TBR: It’s been a week full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

So here it goes. It’s a list of all the books and sites that piqued my interest enough that I am now officially “on the lookout” for these books. Thank you to each blogger that participated and surfaced these books for me. There is so much noise out there these days and Nonfiction November turned out to be a great way to cut through that and find some wonderful recommendations.

  1. Story of Ain’t found on Feminist Texan Reads
  2. Mao’s Great Famine found on The Relentless Reader
  3. The Life of I found on Brona’s Books
  4. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer found on Savvy Working Gal
  5. Books, Baguettes & Bedbugs: The Left Bank World of Shakespeare & Co. by Jeremy Mercer found on Book Addicted Blonde
  6. The Unpersuadables by Richard Storr found on Bibliophilopolis
  7. The Age of Wonder found on The Emerald City Book Review
  8. The Creators by Daniel Boostin found on Bibliophilopolis
  9. Bottled and Sold found on Ardent Reader
  10. Fluent Forever found on A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
  11. The Bilingual Edge found on A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
  12. Men We Reaped found on Books Speak Volumes
nonficnov_hooverlibrary
I saw this banner in my local library this past weekend.

Nonfiction November (#nonficnov) was a blast this year. So many great books and book bloggers I had not heard of. Thank you to everyone who helped organize it and host all of the recap posts. So many great book blogs to scroll through.