Have you read? Readers recommend their favorite books.
Tanya Abramovitch lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I love to read about bibliomaniacs as much as I enjoy being one. A public librarian by trade, I spend my working life trying to make readers out of our patrons. The following selections are by, for, and about those caught with the "fever."
THE SHADOW OF THE WIND
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This is an enthralling novel about books, obsession, love, and loyalty. The language is beautiful, the narrative enticing, and the characters profound. The protagonist is a young man named Daniel who is so taken with a novel acquired in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books that he tries to piece together the author's story. Simultaneously, he unravels it and becomes a part of it. (GOOD July/Aug 2004)
By Elizabeth Kostova
I read this nearly 700-page novel in one marathon sitting. It features elements of the macabre and ranges in subject from libraries to academics and travel. The Historian narrates the quest for the real Dracula by "chosen" individuals scattered around Europe. The bulk of the text is in letter form, reminiscent of Stoker's book, and the narrator is a bright, well-read girl who, as she comes of age, longs to understand both her father and her presumably dead mother. (GOOD/EXCELLENT Sept/Oct 2005)
THE HOUSE OF PAPER
By Carlos Maria Dominguez
A novella readable in an hour, it's about bibliomania in its extreme sense. The nameless narrator tries to return a cement-encrusted volume he's received in the mail to its sender since the intended recipient was killed. He learns the man's tale, which is about the slow decent into madness as a result of an inordinate love of books.
THE RULE OF FOUR
By Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
This book is in the same family as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, only more sophisticated. The story takes place at Princeton and narrates how one work, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a Renaissance coded text, becomes an all-encompassing fixation for several characters--and leads to murder. (GOOD/EXCELLENT Sept/Oct 2004)
By Ross King
The main character of this bibliomystery is a 17th-century London bookseller who has been summoned to visit a country lady. When she sends him on a mission to locate a specific monograph, he gets caught in dangerous situations resulting from her dishonesty.
A GENTLE MADNESS
Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books
By Nicholas Basbanes
The first in a collection of wonderful book-related books by this author, this work portrays those who go to great lengths--and even resort to crime--to acquire their beloved volumes. Each chapter differs from the one before it, but all are equally engaging.
A READING DIARY
A Passionate Reader's Reflections on a Year of Books
By Alberto Manguel
Unlike authors of other reading diaries, Manguel (The History of Reading) revisits books he has previously read and enjoyed, at the rate of one per month. The author is so erudite and intelligent that it is a pleasure to follow his musings, which extend to personal reminiscences and philosophy.
Lost in a Town of Books
By Paul Collins
Collins moves to a small town in Wales called Hay-on-Wye (population: 1500, number of used bookshops: 40) and attempts to find permanent digs. While he fails at this endeavor, he gets absorbed by the array of quirky and unknown tomes he encounters and the eccentric people who authored them.
Confessions of a Common Reader
By Anne Fadiman
This is a collection of essays by a terrific writer. Fadiman, a former editor of The American Scholar, shares her book collection and reading habits, her upbringing with two ultraliterary parents, and her love of language.
USED AND RARE
Travels in the Book World
By Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
The Goldstones are a husband-and-wife team, and this is their first bibliomemoir of three about their book-collecting hobby-turned-passion-turned-livelihood. The tales they tell are endearing and enlightening.
THANKS MOM AND DAD
Louise Russell lives in St. Louis, Missouri
I am a 65-year-old woman who freely admits to being an eager and passionate bibliophile. My love of reading began in early childhood, as I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where books were highly valued. For my good fortune, many thanks go to my parents.
By Katherine Neville
This novel has been described as "the female counterpart to Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose." The plot consists of the tightly woven parallel stories of an 18th-century nun and a 20th-century executive, both searching for a legendary chess service. A great escapist read.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
By Harper Lee
* PULITZER PRIZE
The ultimate coming-of-age novel and an American classic, this novel features a lawyer in the Deep South who defends a black man charged with raping a white girl. But the story focuses on the protagonist Scout and how she develops her sense of morality and justice. It was voted one of the best novels of the 20th century by librarians across the country.
By Ellen Gilchrist
The first novel of an award-winning writer more known for her short stories, The Annunciation is the story of a writer who leaves her unhappy life in New Orleans and moves to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to begin again. The author's astute sense of place had me driving to Fayetteville to see if I loved it as much as Amanda did. I did.
By Gail Godwin
This novel is about a serious painter in New York who makes her living illustrating gothic novels. But it's much more than that: it also narrates a journey into self-knowledge and self-acceptance; it's told with great humor.
By James Michener
My favorite historical novel. I have read it at least four times, and each time I learn something new. Even though the novel's main purpose is to chronicle the history of Judaism over thousands of years, Michener presents this chronicle in the context of world history.
THE RISK POOL
By Richard Russo
This is one of Russo's earlier novels (before he won the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls). He is as brilliant at depicting small-town life in The Risk Pool as he was in Empire Falls. I found many funny and poignant moments in this story of a boy's struggle to understand and love his estranged parents.
EAST OF EDEN
By John Steinbeck
* NOBEL PRIZE 1962
Another American classic, it was written in 1952 and was commonly called "a sweeping family saga." Steinbeck relied on his own family history in California's Salinas Valley to retell the story of Cain and Abel as narrated in Genesis. The characters are complex--and therefore flawed.
OF HUMAN BONDAGE
By W. Somerset Maugham
Written in 1915 by an aspiring writer who had just completed his medical degree, this novel is a masterpiece of modern literature. In the best forward to any book I've ever read, Maugham describes his novel as "not an autobiography, but an autographical novel in which the emotions are all mine." Though it wasn't published until long after 1915, the hero is Maugham himself in his earlier years.
AN UNKNOWN WOMAN
By Alice Koller
This book is not the typical journal of self-discovery. Rather, it recounts a three-month journey that takes the author through her intellectual and emotional self to find a reason to continue living. At the center of her story is her puppy, Logos, who becomes the key to her understanding her wants and needs.
STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND
By Robert Heinlein
* HUGO AWARD 1962
I love science fiction! My favorite is this classic novel about a Martian named Valentine Michael Smith who teaches us humans about "grokking," "water-sharing," and love. It is full of symbols for the reader to ponder, including the names of the characters.
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|Date:||Mar 1, 2007|
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