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Homage to Writing: Books about Books, Libraries and Bookshops

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Relatable characters are always a key ingredient to writing an successful story. If you’re an avid reader and lover of books, these book picks will have you immersed in the lives of characters who also share your passion for all things written. Welcome, fellow bookworms, to a literary wonderland where the magic of words, the brilliance of authors, and the comforting enchantment of libraries and bookshops come together to create an extraordinary realm of imagination. Settle into your favorite nook and let’s dive into this bibliophile's dream.

In this book, humans visit an intermediary place after dying but before reaching their final destination, where they discover infinite shelves of library books with each book containing a possible life that you could have lived in your world instead of your own. When Nora finds herself in the Midnight Library, she is faced with the conundrum of choosing what life she should live and a chance to make different choices. To do this, she must determine which of the lives on the library’s shelves is truly best for her and what she values most. What makes life worth living after all? If you could go back and change your past to have no regrets, would you?

This story is focused on a curmudgeonly bookshop owner named A.J. Fikry. With his wife having passed away, his store sales now dwindling to their lowest state and a highly treasured collection of Edgar Allen Poe poems recently stolen, Fikry feels hopelessly isolated and increasingly negative about the changing world. Then a small yet weighty package mysteriously arrives at his door and ignites a steady transformation in his life giving way to second chances and a newfound love for his book collection. This tale expertly morphs a sad bookshop owner’s irascible life into a charming affirmation of why we read books and how they provide us the comfort and knowledge we need exactly when we need them in all of life’s phases.

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Belle de Costa Greene worked as J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian and curator of his private library set in a townhouse off of East 36th Street before the collection became the Morgan Library and Museum. As she becomes increasingly renown for her acute knowledge of rare manuscripts, books and artwork, she gains power and influence in the art world and becomes one of the country’s most prominent librarians. However, she was hiding a big secret. Belle was actually a Black woman “passing” as a white woman and was the daughter of the first Black graduate of Harvard. The Personal Librarian chronicles the life and legacy of Belle and what it was like to be torn between success and the desire to be her true self. It’s a story of race, class and the struggle to live an authentic life in the gilded age of New York.

After losing his Web Drone job during a great recession, Clay Jannon takes a nightshift position at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. After only a few shifts, Clay soon realizes that store customers are sparse and the ones who do show up never buy anything even after repeated visits. Instead, they eagerly search for obscure tomes in far corners of the bookstore with no explanation of their motive. This story is a mystery that unfolds in a world far outside of the bookstore's realm, entailing some high-tech code-breaking, the use of a very tall ladder and sheer tenacity on Clay’s part to unravel the store’s secrets. If you enjoy suspense, high-jinks and realistic fantasy all set in a bookstore, this one’s for you.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean writes one of the most gripping and meaningful stories about libraries in The Library Book. Fascinated by the infamous 1986 fire in a Los Angeles public library, Orlean digs into the origin of the blaze and the unsolved case surrounding it. This story gives off true crime vibes with probable arson and a likely (but never charged) suspect at the center. However, Orlean manages to dial it back and walk readers through a more philosophical perspective: setting a library ablaze is an attack on humanity and freedom in general. With this sentiment, she weaves in her own history and affection for public libraries, making her non-fiction book an ode to the preservation of information available at your fingertips.

For even more titles about books, check out this list below:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Happy reading, fellow book enthusiasts!

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