For bibliophiles, among the most thrilling and delightful reads are those about books and bibliophilia — the love for books. For this installment of The Analogue Reader, I thought of sharing with you five books I enjoyed reading, am currently reading, and intend to read, whose stories revolve around a book.
Come to think of it, five recommendations on books about books are simply not enough for all the voracious readers out there. After all, goodreads alone has more than 400 books on their list. Even so, I thought of giving you, my fellow readers, a short list to start with, if the idea of books about books managed to intrigue you. The first three books in the list below are the books I’ve read and enjoyed this year; the fourth is one I’m currently reading, and the fifth is one of the books currently on my to-read list. If you’ve read any of them, please do share your thoughts about them!
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (2001)
In post-war Barcelona, a young boy named Daniel Sempere was taken by his father in a secret library called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where old, forgotten titles were kept and preserved by a select few. According to tradition, those who visit the library for the first time must take a book and guard it for life. Daniel picks up a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax and becomes completely engrossed with it. When he tries to find other works of the unknown author and ends up with none, Daniel turns to tracing the history of Carax. Unknown to him, someone sinister is also out looking for the unknown author’s works and is hell-bent on destroying every copy — including Daniel’s.
The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte (1993)
Lucas Corso is a book dealer whose expertise lies in obtaining valuable and rare editions for anonymous book collectors and other book dealers. His most recent project involves authenticating a rare manuscript by Alexandre Dumas, pere, a draft of a previously unknown chapter of The Three Musketeers. His investigation leads him to a book collector named Varo Borja, who shows him an extremely rare book called The Book of the Nine Doors which is said to house the formula for summoning the devil. Borja tells him that his book is one of the three remaining copies, and tasks him to find the two others for comparison, at any cost. These two assignments soon forced Corso to traverse Madrid, Toledo, and Paris, and entangled him in a plot involving occult practices, devil worship, and a series of events curiously similar to those in the Dumas novel.
The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (2004)
Set on the campus of Princeton University in the Easter weekend of 1999, The Rule of Four tells about four seniors — Tom, Paul, Charlie, and Gil — who were preparing for their graduation. Tom and Paul, however, still had one task left: to solve the mystery of a rare and beautifully decorated yet also extremely mysterious book called the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, published in Venice in 1499. While Paul has gotten close to unlocking the secrets of the rare book for his thesis, it was not until a long-lost diary has surfaced that he and Tom get their vital clue. So goes the mad scramble for the pair to decipher the final puzzle in time for the deadline, but not without the added suspense of murders ancient and recent.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (2005)
In 1972 Amsterdam, the narrator, a young woman, discovers in her father’s library an ancient book with a woodcut of a dragon and a handful of old, yellowing letters addressed grimly to a “dear and unfortunate successor.” When she asked her father about them, he tells her about how he found the book in his study carrel during his days as a graduate student in the 1950s, and the ominous story of how his mentor, Bartolomeo Rossi, also obtained a similar book during his graduate student days in the 1930s. The stories lead to Rossi’s investigations on the book and his theory that “Vlad the Impaler” — also known as the vampire Dracula — could still be alive.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2006)
Set in 1939 Nazi Germany, Death narrates the story of a foster girl named Liesel Meminger who lived outside Munich and stole the things she couldn’t resist: books. After her brother’s burial, she stole her first book, The Grave Digger’s Handbook, which was dropped by a gravedigger’s apprentice. Although under-educated and unable to read the book, Liesel keeps the book as a memento of her brother. Liesel at first finds it hard to adjust to her new home and family, and her foster father, Hans, had to come to her and stay with her every night to comfort her whenever she gets woken by nightmares. Upon seeing The Grave Digger’s Handbook under her mattress, Hans eventually decides to teach Liesel how to read and write during those sleepless hours.
All information for this article were sourced from The Rule of Four on Wikipedia, The Shadow of the Wind on Wikipedia, The Book Thief on Wikipedia, The Club Dumas on Wikipedia, and The Historian on Wikipedia.