20 wonderful books about books and bookstores

20 wonderful books about books and bookstores

Here on Modern Mrs Darcy I’m happy to play host to a community of avid readers. Around here, we love books and reading. And we also love to read about books and reading.

A good story is an experience, and many of us enjoy the extra layer of bibliophile enjoyment provided by a book about a book, or that takes place in a bookstore. I count myself among them, obviously. (I mean, I wrote a whole book about books and reading myself!)

I love reading the extra details about the writing life, or the writing process, or behind-the-scenes glimpses of the world of bookselling. There’s something for everyone here: literary mystery, love stories, heartwarming correspondence, treacherous librarians. The deep love of reading unites them all.

20 wonderful books about books and bookstores

The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale

This mystery, set firmly in the tradition of Gothic greats like Jane Eyre, kept me guessing from start to finish. The premise is intriguing (and you may find yourself a little bit envious of the narrator's bookish existence). Reclusive author Vida Winter hires a biographer to share her story. Margaret has one question: Why? While she decides whether to take on the assignment, she begins reading one of the author's works: Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. Winter's fairy tale collection is as well-loved as it is famous for the mysterious missing thirteenth tale. She is captivated by the stories, and puzzled by them because the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? A moody literary mystery, perfect for curling up with on a cold day. Note: a few unsettling scenes if you're a sensitive sort. More info →
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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

This novel is such good fun for book lovers, and at its heart is small-town bookseller A. J. Fikry. He's seen better days: he's isolated himself after the death of his wife, his bookstore sales are at record lows, and he's decidedly cranky about the state of publishing. For devoted readers, this book is a wonderful reminder of the power of books, and how they can bring people together. But be warned: this book can explode your to-be-read list, because at the beginning of each chapter, the narrator recommends a book—or sometimes, a short story—to his daughter, describing what it's about and why she'll enjoy it. (He’s a bookseller: he can't help himself.) More info →
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Parnassus On Wheels

Parnassus On Wheels

The title didn't grab me, but this little novella was a delightful surprise. Helen McGill doesn’t realize she’s teetering on the verge of a midlife crisis until the professor rolls into town. He wants to sell her brother Parnassus—his traveling bookstore on (wagon) wheels. Helen falls in love with the idea of traveling through upstate New York, matching book-deprived readers with the right books, and she buys Parnassus herself. Adventures ensue. Recommended reading for fans of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Essential reading for book lovers, and anyone who believes that when you sell a man a book, you sell him a whole new life. More info →
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The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel

The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel

Author:
An inventive plot that will either work for you or won't, Fforde introduces us to literary detectives who protect books and their characters, going so far as to slip inside the books themselves. When Acheron Hades steals an original manuscript and kills a minor character, that character disappears from every volume of the novel in existence, which is bad enough. But his next target is Jane Eyre herself and Thursday Next will have to do everything in her power to stop him and return Bronte's classic to its former glory. More info →
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First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen

Who really wrote Pride and Prejudice? That mystery drives this literary thriller, which plunges the reader into the world of first editions, secondhand books, and zealous collectors. When a young librarian discovers a document that casts doubt on Austen's authorship of Pride and Prejudice, she struggles to clear her beloved author of plagiarist charges before it's too late. Lovett flips back and forth between the time when Jane was writing her best-known story and today's desperate race to prove her innocence. Lovett's love of books permeates every page. Farfetched? Of course, but piles (stacks?) of fun for booklovers. The Lost Book Of The Grail, centered around Arthurian legend, and The Bookman's Tale, concerning Shakespeare, are also fantastic. More info →
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The Distant Hours

The Distant Hours

Author:
This Gothic mystery is slow to build but those who persevere will be rewarded. The plot flips back and forth between World War II and the 1990s, but not in the way you'd expect. Book editor Edie is drawn into a mystery surrounding her favorite novel, introducing her to the Sisters Blythe who inherited Milderhurst Castle in Kent. Their father wrote the famous children’s storybook The True History of the Mud Man seventy years prior. It's fiction...or is it? The setting is a crumbling old castle, which contributes to the story's creepy (but not quite scary) feel. Some readers think this is Morton's best work. More info →
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The Brontë Plot

The Brontë Plot

The heroine of Reay's third novel is Lucy Alling, a Chicago girl who makes her living selling rare books. She's been using suspicious methods to boost her sales, and when that comes to light it ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend. But Lucy gets an unusual shot at redemption, which takes the form of a literary tour of Europe, including a stop at Haworth, the Brontë sisters family home, where things come to a head. If you've enjoyed Reay's previous novels don't miss her soon-to-be-released book The Printed Letter Bookshop, out May 14. More info →
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The Winter Sea

The Winter Sea

Novelist Carrie comes to Slains Castle to research and write her next book. She sets the story in 1708 Scotland and names a character after her ancestor and the writing process is like nothing she’s ever experienced before. The novel, covering a Jacobite fleet, flows out of her, making her feel as if she's actually there. And then she discovers what she's writing actually happened. But how could she have possibly known? Interweaving a present-day storyline with a historical one, Kearsley plays with genetic memory, making for a story you won't soon forget. More info →
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The Word Exchange

The Word Exchange

Author:
Whether you're a bookworm or a word nerd, this dystopian tale examines our dependence on technology and social media and the staying power of the written word. Readers are transported to a world where bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are obsolete and everyone is ruled by handheld devices called Memes. The last edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language is about to be printed when Anana's father, the printer, goes missing and she's swept into a dangerous search to find him and stop the spread of a mysterious word flu. A fun ride from start to finish. More info →
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84, Charing Cross Road

84, Charing Cross Road

Author:
A must-read for bibliophiles, and you'll feel compelled to discuss the heartwarming way books bring people together with all your book-loving buddies. This is the story of the twenty-year relationship between a New York writer and a gentlemanly London bookseller, as told through their correspondence. More info →
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The Bookshop on the Corner

The Bookshop on the Corner

Author:
You may have seen this with its alternate title The Little Shop of Happy Ever After. I couldn't resist reading this again just before my trip to Scotland. When Nina's job as a British librarian is cut due to budget deficits, she takes a leap of faith and opens a bookmobile in a tiny Scottish town. The bookmobile and its treasures transforms one townsperson at a time and Nina's life is revitalized as well. Now that's the power of a good book! More info →
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The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind

This atmospheric novel is built around a literary mystery: who is Julián Carax, and why is someone systematically burning his books? I'll confess I had a hard time getting into it, but after I got oriented I couldn't turn the pages fast enough: I loved the post-war Barcelona setting, the rich cast of characters, and the surprising twists and turns the story took. This is a lifetime favorite of several readers I know with great taste, and I'm so glad I can finally see what the fuss is all about. It's a book about books, a mystery, a love letter to literature, a beautifully written masterpiece, a work worthy of a lifetime favorite list. The plot description reminds me of personal favorites The Thirteenth Tale and The Distant Hours. More info →
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Ink and Bone (The Great Library Book 1)

Ink and Bone (The Great Library Book 1)

Author:
In the first book in The Great Library series, no one is allowed to own books and Scholars control the Great Library, which decides what the masses may know. And of course, nothing and no one is as they seem, not even our hero. Jess trains to enter the Library's service but he's also there as his illegal bookselling family's spy. Soon he'll have to make a decision about whose side he's on and whether knowledge is more valuable and powerful than life itself. More info →
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The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library

If you love a good literary mystery, this one's for you. This is the first in a series that follows the adventures of a librarian spy. Twinges of fantasy meet a page-turner. Irene is no ordinary librarian, and her employer is no ordinary library—she works for The Library. This library doesn't exist just in one world, it exists across space. Her job is to chase down unique works of fiction across alternate realities to keep these books safe. Her latest mission is to venture into a kind of steampunk London to recover a copy of a very dangerous and powerful book by the German brothers Grimm. When she gets to the place and time, the book is gone and other dangerous spies are hotly pursuing it. It reminds me of Neil Gaiman or Jasper Fforde. This is not high literature, but it's a really fun book. These would make a great binge read. I recommended this to Mel Joulwan on WSIRN episode 60. More info →
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How to Find Love in a Bookshop

How to Find Love in a Bookshop

Emilia returns to her hometown after the death of her father in order to run his business: Nightingale Books. You’ll love learning how Julian came to open the bookstore and the way Emilia essentially grew up in the bookshop. You also get to know some of the villager's stories and what the bookstore means to them. More info →
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Possession

Possession

Author:
I love A. S. Byatt, particularly for the wonderful way she writes her female characters. In this literary mystery and comedy of manners, two scholars research the lives of Victorian Era poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte. Through letters, journals, and poetry, Ash and LaMotte spring vividly to life. Through parallel plot lines, two separate love stories unfold as we push past the surface and get to know all four characters. More info →
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Now a Major Motion Picture

Now a Major Motion Picture

Author:
Iris’s grandmother wrote the famous high-fantasy Elementia series but Iris wants nothing to do with it. She’s never read the books and she barely ever met her grandmother but that doesn’t stop the trilogy’s fans from wanting a piece of her and her family. Iris fears what the fandom is capable of—and that’s before the movie adaptation begins filming. But when Iris tries to shut down the production, she learns she doesn’t have the story quite right. A fun light-hearted read! More info →
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Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer

Author:
Junior librarian Lazlo Strange loves getting lost in the pages of a book, especially when it’s about Weep, a city he's never seen but has heard stories about since childhood. And it is this love of reading and learning that will propel him on the adventure of a lifetime. Laini Taylor's love of books and libraries permeates the pages of this YA Fantasy. More info →
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Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore

Author:
This contemporary novel gives us a wild goose chase in a fascinating setting. Clay, an unemployed Silicon Valley tech worker who now works at a dusty bookstore, discovers its mysterious hold books hold more secrets than he'd ever imagined. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore combines elements of mystery, friendship and adventure as well as the conflict between new technology and print books. This fast-paced book is mystery, quest, and love letter to the written word, all rolled into one: think Harry Potter meets National Treasure. More info →
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The Historian

The Historian

When a young woman stumbles upon an ancient book and old letters in her father’s library, she learns the true history of Dracula and comes to believe he lives even today. Many have risked their lives to find him and now she must decide whether to take up the quest herself. A compelling exploration about what we can dig up when we search our past. More info →
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What are your favorite books about books and bookstores? What titles would you add to this list? Tell us all about them in comments!

P.S. 8 novels that are delightfully self-aware about the writing process, 10 books about books and reading, and the single best thing you can do for your reading life.

P.P.S. I snapped the top photo in NYC’s wonderful Mysterious Bookshop.

145 comments | Comment

145 comments

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  1. Stephanie says:

    I adore nonfiction books about books. We just read Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence for my library’s book discussion group and I loved every page. And along those same lines of loving every page, Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction was beyond fabulous. That book was like a road trip through the books of my youth, reminding me of the authors and stories that turned me into the reader I am today.

    • Kate says:

      I need to check out Papperback Crush. Have you read Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading by Lizzie Skurnick? It skews more 70s-80s but covers a lot of classics.

  2. Maya says:

    The Book Hunters of Katpadi by Pradeep Sebastian is a fun bibliomystery involving two rival book lovers a secret manuscript by Richard Burton and lot of hot summer charms of Madras town. Must read for book lovers.

  3. Thanks so much for this, Anne. I’m glad you didn’t include “My Bookstore” by Ronald Rice, which at face value seems charming, but contains some very offensive homoerotic material (caveat emptor).

  4. Kassie Joslin says:

    Hands down favorites from this list are Bookshop on the Corner and A.J. Fikry! So delightful and charming. Least favorite was Mr. Penumbra- I was so bored with the plot.

    • LifeSheWrote says:

      Gasp, no! My two favorites on this list are A.J. Fikry and Mr. Penumbra! I loved the quirky characters, vivid scenes, and the twisting adventures in Mr. Penumbra… but to each her own!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh! AJ Fikry! I was just gonna comment on that one! My library doesn’t have Bookshop in the Corner so I’ve been checking the local bookstores for it.

  5. Katie says:

    One of my favorite recent reads about books and book stores is “The Secret, Book, and Scone Society” Series … set in small town in the mountains of North Carolina, a used book store owner provides bibliotheraphy to customers. As an element of mystery, romance, and delicious scones!!!

    • Brooke says:

      I recently finished The Bookshop of Yesterdays and I thought it was quite a nice book as well!
      I also enjoyed Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore.

  6. Kari says:

    “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks – traces the path of an ancient religious book and the people that touch it and that it touched. Love everything by Brooks but this one is especially fantastic!

    • I also loved People of the Book and listening to it as an audio book was especially nice. I enjoyed A. J. Filkry and Mr. Penumbra and have The Thirteenth Tale and Shadow of the Wind on my TBR stack.

      This is a great list, and I will be checking back for recommendations.

  7. LifeSheWrote says:

    Love this thread! My favorites from this list are The Shadow of the Wind, The Eyre Affair, The Thirteenth Tale, and especially The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. Here are some other great ones that feature a book at their center or creative structuring where you read another book as a part of your book… so fun:
    Harry’s Trees (Jon Cohen)
    The History of Love (Nicole Krauss)
    Magpie Murders (Anthony Horowitz)
    The Silkworm (Robert Gailbraith)

  8. Lisa W. says:

    Thank you so much for this! Love books about books…
    Just read your book and loved every chapter. I am using it as a coffee table book in my tiny library!

  9. Adair Faust says:

    84 Charing Cross Road is such a winner! And short enough to read in one or two sittings. I think there was a movie made of it – has anyone seen it?

  10. Kris says:

    Lovely list. I also recently enjoyed “The Lost for Words Bookshop” by Stephanie Butland. Now we need a separate list for books that prominently feature Libraries! I love those too.

  11. Jeannine says:

    This is one of my favorite categories… this is just a few titles.
    The Little Paris Bookshop, Nina George
    The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha Abramsky
    The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
    The readers of Broken Wheel reccomend, Katarina Bivald
    The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett
    hen Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning
    The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life by Andy Miller
    My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
    84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
    Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl
    The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski
    Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books by Nick Hornby

    • Hildred Sullivan says:

      Yes, yes! The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend was a totally charming read! Won it in a giveaway and totally unanticipated how wonderful it would be.

  12. Betcei says:

    I am going to print this entire list and keep it with me to find these books in our library or Friends of the Library store! This is fantastic, and I love that I have read a few of them already.

    • Michelle (@bookmusings) says:

      I’d say The Forgotten Garden. It was my first one by her and loved it. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to say the same about the other ones of her I’ve started.

      • Louise says:

        Me too! I loved her first book so much and have been so disappointed with the following ones. They are twice as long as they need to be and I actually got bored with the most recent one.

  13. Dorothy Mantonya says:

    I was surprised you didn’t include your book (which I totally enjoyed). I have read many of these but now have many more to add to my increasing list of books I want to read.

  14. carol harrison says:

    84 Charing Cross Road was made into a movie starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. It was so good that I read the book after seeing it. I used to have a tape copy but lost it somehow in one of my moves, plus i no longer have a tape player. I’m looking forward to reading a lot of these recommendations.

  15. Daniela says:

    A list of favorite books about libraries, bookstores and reading has to include Ian Sansom’s Mobile Library Series. A London librarian is forced to leave his treasured urban lifestyle behind to take a job driving a mobile library across the Northern Ireland countryside. First, though, he and Ted, his short tempered predecessor, have to find all the missing library books.

  16. Ashley says:

    Well, my TBR list just added 20 books-I adore books about readers, books and people who love them. Nick Hornby wrote a series of articles for a magazine that was collected in 3 books (the polysyllabic spree, housekeeping vs. the dirt, and Shakespeare wrote for money) that are about what he read in a month, the reading process, what books he chooses to read, the writing process. They are so good! A little bit hard to find, but so worth the read!

  17. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
    is a fabulous story about life during WWII in German-occupied Guernsey, a Channel Island. Its premise involves a journalist and a group that meets under the guise of a book club. If someone hasn’t read this yet, they should!

  18. Becky says:

    The Uncommon Ready by Alan Bennett is also a fund read about a Queen (obviously Elizabeth, but doesn’t say) who sneaks out of the castle to check out books from the book mobile and how they change her life. Super fun! and short.

    • Gaye says:

      I was just trying to add this when I saw this comment! The title is actually The Uncommon Reader, and it is fabulously quirky and fun!! Great recommendation.

  19. SHERRY JOHNSON says:

    I manage a bookstore, so I am always reading about them and books. I have been in the Mysterious Bookshop in NYC. It used to be owned by Otto Penzler a famed mystery writer. I have read many of the books on your list but am pleased and excited to see some new titles to try. Thanks very much for this post.

  20. Debbie Ball says:

    This list and blog gives such dimension to my long reading life! And now my dear British neighbor has complimented my last three recommendations which are all from following you Anne! You are a blessing!

  21. Christine says:

    Love this post! I have a whole section devoted to this type of book in my reading journal… time to add a few more! Here are a few of my favorites:
    The Lost for Words Bookshop (fantastic on audio)
    My Life With Bob (nonfiction/essays)
    The Book Thief
    The Bookshop at Water’s End
    The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
    Ex Libris (nonfiction/essays)
    The Clothing of Books (nonfiction about book covers)

  22. virginia westlake says:

    This is not about books, but the Miss Zukas series is about a librarian. They are wonderful! She’s a little bit OCD . Great characters with a mystery involved and a handsome police chief. I highly recommend the series. I have all of them and reread them. Unfortunately, there are only 8 and may be hard to find.
    .

  23. Jayne Culp says:

    Surely you’ve read The Library Book, so I’m curious as to why it didn’t make your list. Is it library vs bookstore? I’m almost finished with it and it makes me want to quit my job and become a librarian. I’m at that level where I can’t imagine others not feeling the exact same way. But alas, I know not everyone loves it. I think it’s fabulously written and fascinating. Love seeing your list, too. Thanks.

  24. Eva says:

    Many of my favourites are in your list! I just started reading The Library of Lost and Found which involves a special book and a main character who volunteers in a library and loves making up stories! I think it fits your post perfectly ??

  25. Sherry says:

    I just could not get into “The Shadow of the Wind” or “The Historian.” They were both a little creepy, which is not my favorite thing. Mr. Zafon can really turn a lovely phrase, though.

    • Laura says:

      I read it while in Barcelona, which helped, but didn’t love it like others did. The descriptions of the personal library were fantastic though!

    • Kelley says:

      You should give it another try — with the audio version. It was probably the best audio book I’ve listened to thus far (well, that and the audio version of The Sweet Potato Pie Literary Society). I raced home and through my commitments just to be able to listen to more of The Shadow. It has some seemingly scary moments but all is explained in the end — mostly atmospheric. It was fabulous.

    • MemAmy says:

      Currently reading a Catalogue of Wonders by Kells. It is very insteresting, but is taking me awhile to read as I must do more research on all the libraries mentioned. This book is like a staircase that never ends. LOVE!

  26. Megan TM says:

    Great list! For YA fans I recommend Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, and The Green Man. I also have a copy of Bibliophile by Jane Mount on my coffee table to admire on a daily basis.

    • Karen Stafford says:

      Oh! My 11 year old daughter just read Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library and said it was one of her favourite books ever!

  27. Michaela says:

    Oh my, so many books to add to my list!
    I have to second previous recommendations for The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.

  28. Becky says:

    The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop,
    Howard’s End is on the Landing, Time was Soft There, Firmin’, The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books, The City of Dreaming Books,Sixpence House, InkHeart series, An Alphabetical Life, The Library at Night, The Reading Promise,The Book That Changed MyvLife, Q’s Legacy, The Bookseller of Kabul, Buried in Books, The Whole Five Feet, Reading Lolita in Tehran, Cliff Janeway Bookman Series, Unpacking My Library. I could go on forever. I love books about books, bookstores, libraries and the reading life.

    • Sheila Luken says:

      I was searching for a mention of Reading Lolita in Tehran! It was the first book selection for a wonderful book club I was in for many years.

  29. Stefanni says:

    I am almost finished reading The Library Book by Susan Orleans. So glad I went against my initial reaction to the premise and picked it up. Such a wonderful tribute to the power of the book and libraries that house them!

  30. Julia R. says:

    I would add “S” by JJ Abrams to your list – a story within a story as two readers leave notes and clues for each other in one library book that they pass back and forth. The book includes letters, postcards, maps, napkins, etc. as ephemera that bring this mystery to life. A very unique reading experience!

  31. Jen R. Oatham-Jones says:

    I literally just finished The Lost For Words Bookshop, which I absolutely loved. I added it to my own list of bookstore books and your list is pleasingly timed!

  32. CSmith says:

    My favorite book about a writer is “Miss Buncle’s Book” by D.E. Stevenson. It’s a delightfully easy read about a spinster who secretly writes a thinly disguised book about the people in her English village, then lives in fear of exposure. Stevenson also wrote “Anna and Her Daughters” wherein the main character is a writer.

    For mystery lovers, Rex Stout wrote more than one book/short story about writers. The ones I can think of are “Plot It Yourself” and “Murder by the Book.”

  33. MemAmy says:

    I read The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry, many years ago. Suspense, intrigue, history, thrills, a little scary and a library to boot! It was an exciting read! Love this thread!

  34. Jaime says:

    I love all these recommendations! One of my favorite book series about books are the Cliff Janeway series by John Dunning – Janeway is a retired detective that opens an antique/rare bookstore and all sorts of mystery surrounding books ensues…

  35. susie says:

    I concur about The Little Paris Bookshop and The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society, but would also add: So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading, by Sara Nelson. She embarks on a goal of reading a book a week for a year, but it’s more a book of essays and reflection on what she’s reading, than actual week by week reviews. I enjoyed it immensely—any discussion of reading!!

  36. Lee Hillhouse says:

    Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore – Matthew Sullivan
    How Reading Changed my Life – Anna Quindlen
    The Polysyllabic Spree – Nick Hornby

  37. Casey says:

    Wow, the only two that were unfamiliar to me were First Impressions and Now A Major Motion Picture, which both sound great!
    Possession is an all-time favorite, but man is it WORK to read. I’ve only read it once, but it was ultimately worth it. I have the paperback, but if I read it again, it will be on Kindle, because I needed a dictionary to get through it the first time.
    Strange the Dreamer (and its sequel, since it ends abruptly) was a five star book for me. Laini Taylor is the best YA author out there, in my opinion. Or at least the best YA fantasy author.
    I found Mr. Penumbra to be meh. Very zany and required a bit too much suspension of my disbelief.

  38. Melissa says:

    I would add The Little Book Store of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book by Wendy Welch and Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell. I have also heard good things about Bookworm A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan.

  39. Teresa says:

    Elizabeth Goudge’s “City of Bells” is my favorite. One of the key characters, Jocelyn Irvin, is bookseller and writer both. A central storyline ties together the lives of two writers who have never met as Jocelyn finishes the manuscript of a man who disappeared… I just finished rereading this novel yet again, and I love it more each time.

  40. Just a fantastic list and so many rich comments! 84, Charing Cross Road is one of my longtime favorites. On my first ever trip to London, that is where I went immediately. Alas, the bookshop is long gone, but I felt myself lost in Helene Hanff’s world, just by going there. Lots of other favorites mentioned in the comments. Thanks to all.

  41. Sue Ames says:

    I love this list and have read a couple of them but need to re-read them. I also love Jeannie’ list and must write them all down in my journal. No time left for Sleeping!!

  42. Barb says:

    Ella Minnow Pea. It’s a book that’s maybe more about writing and the role of communication, literature and freedom of speech but it’s premise is fascinating. The citizens live on an island where the letters of the alphabet are being banned, one by one. The story is told through notes that are written using fewer and fewer letters as the book progresses. At the end, they only have L M N O P (which is the title of the book!). It’s got kind of an Orwellian feel but with a happier ending than 1984 or Animal Farm.

  43. Dawn says:

    A friend just gave me “The Little Paris Bookshop”. I have no clue what it’s about, which is a bit unusual for me–am I’m trying to do more often. It’s on my TBR pile right now until I get some other half read books finished.

  44. Kay says:

    I love this post, what could be better than a list of books about books! Some of my all time favourites are on this list, especially 84 Charing Cross Road.
    I would also highly recommend Howard’s End is on the Landing by Susan Hill, it is a non fiction book about her book collection and how she rediscovered her books. This is a book that I have bought for several friends, and one that I used as a monthly choice once for the book group that I run. x

    • Kathryn Reid says:

      A YA title that involves a bookstore and loss and romance is Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley. They have a section of the bookstore where patrons can leave letters to each other inside favorite books.

  45. Lauren says:

    Ship of Theseus. by J.J. Abrams (basically produced the project, which is more than a book) and author Doug Dorst. It’s a book with multiple stories in it. So there’s the original book, which is supposedly translated, and includes intriguing footnotes about who the original author was, and his (her?) intent in the writing. And then two people have written notes in it to each other–in some order unknown to us. There are so many different ways to read this book, but it’s all about writing and reading stories.

  46. Jennifer Letak says:

    The Railwayman’s Wife and The Lost For Words Bookshop were good ones too! The Railwayman’s Wife was one of my favorite books I read last year!

  47. Tammy Barlow Murphy says:

    I loved 84 Charing Cross Road so very much. I also encourage readers to check out the film version, starring Anthony Hopkins & Anne Bancroft…you will be moved!

  48. Stephany says:

    So many good recommendations! A few other books revolving around books(and libraries)that popped into my mind while I was reading this post:
    The Hazelwood
    The Book of Lost Things
    The Lost Book of the Grail
    The Book of Speculation

  49. Deirdre Keating says:

    I’m not normally a mystery/detective genre fan but I loved Booked to Die by John Dunning. Rare book seller on the hunt, fast and fun read.

    • Dida Hernandez says:

      OMG, yes! I met John Dunning who was every bit as charming and full of amazing stories in person. My first fangirl moment back in the day.

  50. Dida Hernandez says:

    I love it when an article about something close to my heart not only lists a lot of my favorite books of all time but also a lot that I have still yet to read!! Thank you so much. Also many thanks to everyone commenting with even more titles..is it my birthday? (No, it isn’t btw, it just feels like it.) Giddy Litwit heading to hunt down some titles.

  51. Safari says:

    What a wonderful list and such great book suggestions in the Comments! I’d like to add The Librarian of Auschwitz by Iturbe. It’s an historical fiction novel about a Holocaust survivor during WW2. I also loved Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman. It’s my favorite gift book to give to good friends. Someone mentioned and gave a good summary of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, which is an all-time favorite of mine.

  52. Meg says:

    The House of Paper by Carlos Maria Dominguez is unusual and very short, just over 100 pages. It’s about a man who owns around 18,000 books, and about how he stores and organizes them, and how he ultimately uses them to build himself a beach house.

    I agree with the multiple recommendations of Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree.

  53. Kristi says:

    My favorites: The Thirteenth Tale, The Book Thief, and The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society, and The Shadow of the Wind. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much (non-fiction) was quite memorable.

  54. Becky says:

    Forgot to mention The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe. Upon recognizing that her bookshelves were packed with English and North American authors, Ann Morgan decided to spend a year reading a book from every country in the world.

  55. Sally says:

    I would add Noel Perrin’s “A Reader’s Delight”. It is a collection of essays about “40 diverse, largely unknown works of fiction and fact, prose and poetry”.

  56. Noah says:

    Ann!
    I was so excited to see one of my favorites, “Shadow of the Wind” on this list, but how can you not include “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks. Readers who love books about books and historical fiction will die for this one. If you haven’t read it, I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Its on my favorite shelf for sure!

  57. Lydia says:

    I loved Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alex Christie, about the invention of printing. Not a modern day setting as most of the books mentioned, but a great story about books. Furthermore of course Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen.

  58. Sherry Worthen says:

    Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch. This author decided to read a book a day for a year, trying to deal with grief after her sister died.

  59. Kathleen Skinner says:

    There are so many books on this list that I have read and loved. I enjoy light mysteries, and a favorite series is the Bibliophile Mysteries, by Kate Carlisle. The main character is a book restorer in San Francisco who ends up with a used bookstore. I love her sly portrayal of the characters and the very California atmosphere.

  60. Jenny Womack says:

    I was expecting a list of non fiction books, but love this fiction list. I’ve read almost half of them. Favorites include Cogman’s Invisible Library series (did audio versions, really fun) & Caine’s The Great Library series (final book is on pre-sale now), also enjoyed several of Katherine Reay’s books inspired by Austen. Fun list, thanks for sharing, I’ve added a few more to my TBR.

  61. Emily says:

    I just finished a memoir by Wendy Welch called The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap. It’s about her and her husband opening a book store in the Appalachia’s.

  62. I also recommend Helene Hanff’s other books, which are about writing. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is the follow up to 84; Q’s Legacy is about how she became a writer. Apple of My Eye is about how she went about researching for a guidebook about Manhattan, and Underfoot in Show Business (which I own, but have not yet read) is about her early attempts to be a playwright.

  63. Such a comprehensive list! I love the work you do here! I am starting to put together lists of books about destinations on my travel blog, @dreambookandtravel. I would love to stay in touch (already following all your social media channels) and I would be grateful to join your Pinterest board “Books I Love”. thank you so much! greetings from Vienna!

  64. Shauna says:

    What a great list! My favorites include People of the Book, Possession, Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Guernsey and Literary Potato Peel Pie Society, and The Historian. Still on my TBR list: The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt.

  65. Ellen Keim says:

    This isn’t fiction, but is a true story about an author and his family who move from San Francisco to the village of Hay-on-Wye in Wales, also known as the “Town of Books” because of its forty bookstores for fifteen hundred inhabitants. I loved this book so much I didn’t want it to end.

  66. Ellen Keim says:

    Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a novel about a bookstore clerk who grapples with her past while trying to solve a mystery having to do with one of the bookstore regulars who committed suicide and left her his meager and puzzling worldly possessions.

  67. Ellen Keim says:

    The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai is a gem of a book that is part road trip, part quest and part coming-of-age story. Although this isn’t a YA novel, it would be a good choice for a teen or young adult, especially one who is struggling with identity issues.

  68. Brenda Crews says:

    What a wonderful list. I don’t know if psychological thrillers are anyone’s cup of tea, but this one is about a bookstore in Scotland. Good Neighbors by Catriona McPherson.

  69. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald – a British writer who died in 2000 is one of my favourites. PF won the Booker Prize in 1979 for her novel Offshore. The Bookshop was made into a film a couple of years ago – maybe didn’t make it to the USA? And I’m also very fond of Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader – for years it was the book I gave to friends in hospital.

  70. Kiernan says:

    I just finished The Lonely Hearts Bookshop series by Annie Darling; The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts is the first of four. Sweet light little reads.

  71. Janet Estridge says:

    “A Year in the Life of a Bookseller”.
    Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the author.
    Thanks for your suggestions.
    I’m writing them down.

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