Booklovers find a special type of pleasure in reading novels about books: novels set in bookshops, novels about book clubs, novels about writers, books that celebrate literature. To help feed your book-loving habit, we’ve put together a list of unputdownable books about books.
The Binding by Bridget Collins
Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse. He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.
In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded. Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it. The Binding is an unforgettable, magical novel: a boundary-defying love story and a unique literary event. Read our review here.
The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered a book that would change his life forever. Now a grown man, he is just one step away from solving the mystery of his mother’s death when a new plot is revealed, much deeper and darker than he could ever have imagined. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born from the shadows of war, to lead Daniel to the heart of darkness and reveal the secret history of his family . . . at a terrible price. This is the final chapter in the story that began with The Shadow of the Wind and brings it to a grand finale. It is a tribute to the world of books, the art of storytelling and the magical link between literature and life.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
It is 1939. Nazi Germany, the country is holding its breath… Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up an object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, and it is her first act of book thievery.
So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
A celebration of literature, love, and the power of the human spirit, this warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining novel is the story of an English author living in the shadow of World War II and the writing project that will dramatically change her life.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
In a small East Anglian town, Florence Green decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop. But Hardborough becomes a battleground. Florence has tried to change the way things have always been done, and as a result, she has to take on not only the people who have made themselves important, but natural and even supernatural forces too. Her fate will strike a chord with anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice.
The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett
A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search—through time and the works of Shakespeare—for his lost love.
Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalising mysteries with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt’s Possession.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
There is another 1985, somewhere in the could-have-been, where the Crimean war still rages, dodos are regenerated in home-cloning kits and everyone is deeply disappointed by the ending of ‘Jane Eyre’.
In this world there are no jet-liners or computers, but there are policemen who can travel across time, a Welsh republic, a great interest in all things literary – and a woman called Thursday Next. In this utterly original and wonderfully funny first novel, Fforde has created a fiesty, loveable heroine and a plot of such richness and ingenuity that it will take your breath away.
Did we miss any of your favourite books? Let us know in the comments!