I believe in the power of bibliotherapy and I’m always happy reading books about books. I also like talking about books and have two book clubs. Sharing the love of reading with people is always a joy for me and I believe books about books do this tremendously well. They may help us get out of a stubborn reading slump and remind us how powerful reading is. They can also help us find amazing new books, keep us out of our comfort zones and discover new genres.
In this books about books list I only wanted to share non-fiction books. There are books with reading recommendations, reading lists, essays, and a mix of all these on this books about books list. I must say they make excellent gifts because, let’s be honest, readers love reading books about books. And, yes, books about books are also amazing conversation starters and leafing through them once in a while is one of those little joys. I hope you can find a book to your liking among books about books.
20 Best Books About Books
How Reading Changed My Life – Anna Quindlen
A popular one among books about books. A recurring theme throughout Anna Quindlen’s How Reading Changed My Life is the comforting premise that readers are never alone. “There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books,” she writes, “a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but never really a stranger. My real, true world.”
In four short essays Quindlen shares her thoughts on the act of reading itself (“It is like the rubbing of two sticks together to make a fire, the act of reading, an improbable pedestrian task that leads to heat and light”); analyzes the difference between how men and women read (“there are very few books in which male characters, much less boys, are portrayed as devoted readers”).
And cheerfully defends middlebrow literature: Most of those so-called middlebrow readers would have readily admitted that the Iliad set a standard that could not be matched by What Makes Sammy Run? or Exodus. But any reader with common sense would also understand intuitively, immediately, that such comparisons are false, that the uses of reading are vast and variegated and that some of them are not addressed by Homer. A much-loved among books about books.
A History of Reading – Alberto Manguel
At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book—that string of confused, alien ciphers—shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader. Noted essayist Alberto Manguel moves from this essential moment to explore the 6000-year-old conversation between words and that magician without whom the book would be a lifeless object: the reader. Manguel lingers over reading as seduction, as rebellion, as obsession, and goes on to trace the never-before-told story of the reader’s progress from clay tablet to scroll, codex to CD-ROM. A different one among books about books.
I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life – Anne Bogel
A much-loved one among books about books. For so many people, reading isn’t just a hobby or a way to pass the time–it’s a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can’t imagine life without them.
I’d Rather Be Reading is the perfect literary companion for everyone who feels that way. In this collection of charming and relatable reflections on the reading life, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today. Known as a reading tastemaker through her popular podcast What Should I Read Next?, Bogel invites book lovers into a community of like-minded people to discover new ways to approach literature, learn fascinating new things about books and publishing, and reflect on the role reading plays in their lives.
The perfect gift for the bibliophile in everyone’s life, I’d Rather Be Reading will command an honored place on the overstuffed bookshelves of any book lover. A cute one among books about books.
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader – Anne Fadiman
A fine one among books about books and reading. Anne Fadiman is (by her own admission) the sort of person who learned about sex from her father’s copy of Fanny Hill, whose husband buys her 19 pounds of dusty books for her birthday, and who once found herself poring over her roommate’s 1974 Toyota Corolla manual because it was the only written material in the apartment that she had not read at least twice.
This witty collection of essays recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language. For Fadiman, as for many passionate readers, the books she loves have become chapters in her own life story. Writing with remarkable grace, she revives the tradition of the well-crafted personal essay, moving easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family.
There is even a foray into pure literary gluttony: Charles Lamb liked buttered muffin crumbs between the leaves, and Fadiman knows of more than one reader who literally consumes page corners. Perfectly balanced between humor and erudition, Ex Libris establishes Fadiman as one of our finest contemporary essayists. A must-read among books about books if you love essays.
The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies – Ella Berthoud
A “medicinal” one among books about books. This is a medical handbook, with a difference. Whether you have a stubbed toe or a severe case of the blues, within these pages you’ll find a cure in the form of a novel to help ease your pain. You’ll also find advice on how to tackle common reading ailments – such as what to do when you feel overwhelmed by the number of books in the world, or you have a tendency to give up halfway through. When read at the right moment, a novel can change your life, and The Novel Cure is an enchanting reminder of that power. An excellent one among books about books.
Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason – Nancy Pearl
A popular one among books about books. What to read next is every book lover’s greatest dilemma. Nancy Pearl comes to the rescue with this wide-ranging and fun guide to the best reading new and old. Pearl, who inspired legions of litterateurs with What If All (name the city) Read the Same Book, has devised reading lists that cater to every mood, occasion, and personality. These annotated lists cover such topics as mother-daughter relationships, science for nonscientists, mysteries of all stripes, African-American fiction from a female point of view, must-reads for kids, books on bicycling, chick-lit, and many more. Pearl’s enthusiasm and taste shine throughout. A good one among books about books.
Bowie’s Books: The Hundred Literary Heroes Who Changed His Life – John O’Connell
An amazing one among books about books. Three years before he died, David Bowie made a list of the one hundred books that had transformed his life – a list that formed something akin to an autobiography. From Madame Bovary to A Clockwork Orange, the Iliad to the Beano, these were the publications that had fuelled his creativity and shaped who he was.
In Bowie’s Books, John O’Connell explores this list in the form of one hundred short essays, each offering a perspective on the man, performer and creator that is Bowie, his work as an artist and the era that he lived in.
Brilliantly illustrated throughout and the perfect gift for Bowie fans and book lovers, Bowie’s Books is much more than a list of books you should read in your lifetime: it is a unique insight into one of the greatest minds of our times, and an indispensable part of the legacy that Bowie left behind. For all the fans of Bowie among books about books.
Books for Living: a reader’s guide to life – Will Schwalbe
An excellent one among books about book. Why is it that we read? Is it to pass time? To learn something new? To escape into another reality?
For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big (and small) questions about how to live his life. In this delightful celebration of reading, Schwalbe invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions.
Rich with stories and recommendations, Books for Living is a treasure for everyone who loves books and loves to hear the answer to the question: “What are you reading?” A perfect for gifting among books about books.
Howards End is on the Landing: A year of reading from home – Susan Hill
Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to get to know her own collection again.
A book which is left on a shelf for a decade is a dead thing, but it is also a chrysalis, packed with the potential to burst into new life. Wandering through her house that day, Hill’s eyes were opened to how much of that life was stored in her home, neglected for years. Howard’s End is on the Landing charts the journey of one of the nation’s most accomplished authors as she revisits the conversations, libraries and bookshelves of the past that have informed a lifetime of reading and writing. A must-read among books about books.
The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe – Ann Morgan
Ann Morgan writes in the opening of this delightful book, I glanced up at my bookshelves, the proud record of more than twenty years of reading, and found a host of English and North American greats starting down at me…I had barely touched a work by a foreign language author in years…The awful truth dawned. I was a literary xenophobe.
Prompted to read a book translated into English from each of the world’s 195 UN-recognized countries (plus Taiwan and one extra), Ann sought out classics, folktales, current favorites and commercial triumphs, novels, short stories, memoirs, and countless mixtures of all these things. The world between two covers, the world to which Ann introduces us with affection and no small measure of wit, is a world rich in the kind of narratives that engage us passionately: we meet an irreverent junk food-obsessed heroine in Kuwait, an explorer from Togo who spent years among the Inuit in Greenland, and a former child circus performer of Roma background seeking sanctuary in Switzerland.
Ann’s quest explores issues that affect us all: personal, political, national, and global. What is cultural heritage? How do we define national identity? Is it possible to overcome censorship and propaganda? And, above all, why and how should we read from other cultures, languages, and traditions? Illuminating and inspiring, The World Between Two Covers welcomes us into the global community of stories. One of the best books about books!
Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread – Michiko Kakutani
From renowned, Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic, Michiko Kakutani, comes an inspiring and gorgeously illustrated selection of the life-changing books that none of us should miss
‘Why do we love books so much?’
For legendary literary critic Michiko Kakutani, books have always been an escape and a sanctuary, the characters of some novels feeling so real to her childhood self that she worried they might leap out of the pages at night if she left the book cover open. In Ex Libris, she offers a personal selection of over 100 works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, with passionate essays on why each has had a profound effect on her life.
From Homer’s The Odyssey to The Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale to Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, Ex Libris covers a rich and vast range of classics, old and new, that will help build a well-rounded reader and citizen of the world. With gorgeous illustrations by lettering artist Dana Tanamachi that evoke vintage bookplates leafed between Kakutani’s inspiring essays, Ex Libris points us to our next great read – and proves an unmissable reminder of why we fell in love with reading in the first place. One of the loveliest books about books.
1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die – Peter Boxall
The best-known among books about books. For discerning bibliophiles and readers who enjoy unforgettable classic literature, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die is a trove of reviews covering a century of memorable writing. Each work of literature featured here is a seminal work key to understanding and appreciating the written word.The featured works have been handpicked by a team of international critics and literary luminaries, including Derek Attridge (world expert on James Joyce), Cedric Watts (renowned authority on Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene), Laura Marcus (noted Virginia Woolf expert), and David Mariott (poet and expert on African-American literature), among some twenty others. A truly bookish one among books about books.
Addictive, browsable, knowledgeable—1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die will be a boon companion for anyone who loves good writing and an inspiration for anyone who is just beginning to discover a love of books. Each entry is accompanied by an authoritative yet opinionated critical essay describing the importance and influence of the work in question. Also included are publishing history and career details about the authors, as well as reproductions of period dust jackets and book designs. One of the must-have books about books.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading – Nina Sankovitch
An interesting one among books about books. After the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch found herself caught up in grief, dashing from one activity to the next to keep her mind occupied. But on her forty-sixth birthday she decided to stop running and start reading.
Catalyzed by the loss of her sister, a mother of four spends one year savoring a great book every day, from Thomas Pynchon to Nora Ephron and beyond. In the tradition of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking, Nina Sankovitch’s soul-baring and literary-minded memoir is a chronicle of loss, hope, and redemption. Nina ultimately turns to reading as therapy and through her journey illuminates the power of books to help us reclaim our lives.
Where I’m Reading From: The Changing World of Books – Tim Parks
Should you finish every book you start?
How has your family influenced the way you read?
What is literary style?
How is the Nobel Prize like the World Cup?
Why do you hate the book your friend likes?
Is writing really just like any other job?
What happens to your brain when you read a good book?
As a writer, translator, critic and professor of literature, Tim Parks, is well-placed to investigate any questions we have about books and reading. In this collection of lively and provocative pieces he talks about what readers want from books and how to look at the literature we encounter in a new light. An excellent choice among books about books.
My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues – Pamela Paul
A good choice for the bibliophiles among books about books. Pamela Paul has kept a single book by her side for twenty-eight years – carried throughout high school and college, hauled from Paris to London to Thailand, from job to job, safely packed away and then carefully removed from apartment to house to its current perch on a shelf over her desk – reliable if frayed, anonymous-looking yet deeply personal. This book has a name: Bob.
Bob is Paul’s Book of Books, a journal that records every book she’s ever read, from Sweet Valley High to Anna Karenina, from Catch-22 to Swimming to Cambodia, a journey in reading that reflects her inner life – her fantasies and hopes, her mistakes and missteps, her dreams and her ideas, both half-baked and wholehearted. Her life, in turn, influences the books she chooses, whether for solace or escape, information or sheer entertainment.
But My Life with Bob isn’t really about those books. It’s about the deep and powerful relationship between book and reader. It’s about the way books provide each of us the perspective, courage, companionship, and imperfect self-knowledge to forge our own path. It’s about why we read what we read and how those choices make us who we are. It’s about how we make our own stories.
A Book of Book Lists: A Bibliophile’s Compendium – Alex Johnson
For the list lovers among books about books. This is a book of book lists. Not of the ‘1,001 Books You MUST Read Before You Die’ variety but lists that tell stories. Lists that make you smile, make you wonder, and see titles together in entirely new ways. From Bin Laden’s bookshelf to the books most frequently left in hotels, from prisoners’ favourite books to MPs’ most borrowed books, these lists are proof that a person’s bookcase tells you everything you need to know about them, and sometimes more besides.
Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to Her Books – Annie Spence
A cute one among books about books. A Gen-X librarian’s snarky, laugh-out-loud funny, deeply moving collection of love letters and break-up notes to the books in her life.
Librarians spend their lives weeding–not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbours, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly.
We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations. Hilarious, compassionate, and wise, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the consummate book-lover’s birthday present, stocking stuffer, holiday gift, and all-purpose humour book. An interesting one among books about books.
The Diary of a Bookseller – Shaun Bythell
Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost …
In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye. A popular one among books about books and booksellers.
For as long as she can remember, Cathy Rentzenbrink has lost and found herself in stories. Growing up she was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, books kept her afloat. Eventually they lit the way to a new path, first as a bookseller and then as a writer. No matter what the future holds, reading will always help.
Dear Reader is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life, packed with recommendations from one reader to another. A new one among books about books.
One of my faves among books about books. 500 Essential Cult Books gathers the finest trade paperbacks, hardbacks, collections, novellas, biographies, poems and graphic novels from around the world into one giant volume that reveals what makes a read not just a success and not just a classic but a cult book.
From fiction to non-fiction, poetry to self-help titles, 500 Essential Cult Books covers a huge range of literature and is sorted into thematic genres. Each entry includes a brief plot breakdown, critical review and suggested further reading. Whether you’re looking to broaden your literary horizons, reacquaint yourself with old favourites, or find recommendations for other titles you might like, this compendium of cult classics is sure to have something to appeal to your inner bookworm. A highly interesting one among books about books.
Check out my other lists about books!
- 10 Uplifting Books
- Feel-Good Cozy Mystery Series
- Autumn Books – 20 Cozy Novels
- Japanese Books Under 200 Pages
- 20 Best Campus and Academic Novels
- 20 Literary Romance Novels
- 20 Best Food Culture and Food History Books
- Top 5 Haiku Books
- 15 Best Eco-fiction Novels
- Perfect Christmas Books
- 20 Best Turkish Books
- Books Set in Museums
- Books Set in Hotels
- Books Set on Islands
- Novels Set in Ancient Egypt
- Books Set in the English Countryside
- Books Set in Edinburgh
- Books Set in Istanbul
- Books Set in Forests
- Beautiful Novels About Books
- Best Books About Books
- Books About Witches
- Novels About Ernest Hemingway
- Best Books About Birds
- Best Books About Walking
- Best Books About Tea
- Novels About Scents & Perfume
Are there any books about books you’d like to add to this list? Would you please share in the comments section below?