Stories of Bibliophilia & Reading

Reading and book-collecting are addictions like any other. Here are some books that explore this obsession.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

by Robin Sloan

About the book:  A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead "checking out" impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he's embarked on a complex analysis of the customers' behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what's going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore. With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that's rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

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Ex Libris
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Ex Libris

by Anne Fadiman

About the book:  A collection of essays discusses the central and joyful importance of books and reading in the author's life.

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Rereadings
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Rereadings

by Anne Fadiman

About the book:  Is a book the same book-or a reader the same reader-the second time around? The seventeen authors in this witty and poignant collection of essays all agree on the answer: Never. The editor of Rereadings is Anne Fadiman, and readers of her bestselling book Ex Libris (FSG, 1998) will find this volume especially satisfying. Her chosen authors include Sven Birkerts, Allegra Goodman, Vivian Gornick, Patricia Hampl, Phillip Lopate, and Luc Sante; the objects of their literary affections range from Pride and Prejudice to Sue Barton, Student Nurse. Each has selected a book or a story or a poem--or even, in one case, the lyrics on the back of the Sgt. Pepper album--that made a deep impression in his or her youth, and reread it to see how it has changed in the interim. (Of course, what has really changed is the reader.) These essays are not conventional literary criticism; they are about relationships. The relationship between reader and book is a powerful one, and as these writers attest, it evolves over time. Rereadings reveals at least as much about the reader as about the book: each is a miniature memoir that focuses on that most interesting of topics, the protean nature of love. And as every bibliophile knows, no love is more life-changing than the love of a book.

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The Girl Who Ate Books: Adventures in Reading
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The Girl Who Ate Books: Adventures in Reading

by Nilanjana Roy

About the book:  From Bankimchandra Chatterjee to G.V. Desani to Vikram Seth, Indian writing in English has come a long way over the last hundred years. And Nilanjana Roy - voracious eater of books and sharpest of critics - has taken stock of it all. One of India's most widely read journalists, Roy has been writing reviews, columns, essays and features for over two decades. The Girl Who Ate Books revisits the best of these occasional pieces and weaves them together with a set of new personal essays. From early memories of living in a house made of books to encounters with men and women who hoarded books to the author's first taste of the printed word, this is a memoir of reading, loving and living with books like no other. Bringing together writers across generations - from the obscure Sake Dean Mahomet to the mischievous Khushwant Singh to the fiery Arundhati Roy - The Girl Who Ate Books gives us a ringside view of the theatre of Indian writing in English over several decades, and especially the last two. Written in the author's understated but unfailingly elegant style, this is an essential collection for those who live to read and read to live.

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So Many Books, So Little Time
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So Many Books, So Little Time

by Sara Nelson

About the book:  Sara Nelson editor, reporter, reviewer, mother, daughter, wife, and compulsive reader set out to chronicle a year s worth of reading, to explore how the world of books and words intermingled with children, marriage, and friends. She had a system all set up: fifty-two weeks, fifty-two books and it all fell apart the first week. This is a personal memoir filled with wit, charm, insight, infectious enthusiasm - enough to make a passionate reader out of anybody.

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How to Read a Book
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How to Read a Book

by Charles Van Doren,Mortimer J. Adler

About the book:  With half a million copies in print, How to Read a Book is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader, completely rewritten and updated with new material. Originally published in 1940, this book is a rare phenomenon, a living classic that introduces and elucidates the various levels of reading and how to achieve them—from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading. Readers will learn when and how to “judge a book by its cover,” and also how to X-ray it, read critically, and extract the author’s message from the text. Also included is instruction in the different techniques that work best for reading particular genres, such as practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science works. Finally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests you can use measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension, and speed.

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This is Not the End of the Book
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This is Not the End of the Book

by Jean-Claude Carriare,Umberto Eco

About the book:  'The book is like the spoon: once invented, it cannot be bettered' - Umberto Eco. These days it is impossible to get away from discussions of whether the book will survive the digital revolution. Blogs, tweets and newspaper articles on the subject appear daily, many of them repetitive, most of them admitting ignorance of the future. Amidst the twittering, the thoughts of Jean-Claude Carrière and Umberto Eco come as a breath of fresh air. This thought-provoking book takes the form of a conversation in which Carrière and Eco discuss everything from how to define the first book to what is happening to knowledge now that infinite amounts of information are available at the click of a mouse. En route there are delightful digressions into personal anecdote. We find out about Eco's first computer and the book Carrière is most sad to have sold. And while, as Carrière says, the one certain thing about the future is that it is unpredictable, it is clear from this conversation that, in some form or other, the book will survive.

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The Incredible Book Eating Boy
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The Incredible Book Eating Boy

by Oliver Jeffers

About the book:  Henry loves to eat books, until he begins to feel quite ill and decides that maybe he could do something else with the books he has been devouring.

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A Pound of Paper
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A Pound of Paper

by John Baxter

About the book:  The memoirs of a book collector are comprised of the author's whimsical recollections of his encounters with literary figures and trace his transformation from an Australian bush child to a Parisian penthouse occupant with a personal library worth millions. Reprint. 10,000 first printing.

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The Uncommon Reader
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The Uncommon Reader

by Alan Bennett

About the book:  The Uncommon Reader is none other than HM the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely ( JR Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people like the oleaginous prime minister and his repellent advisers. She comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with much that she has to do. In short, her reading is subversive. The consequence is, of course, surprising, mildly shocking and very funny.

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