Crowley, Cath. Words in Deep Blue.

NY: Knopf, 2016.

Crowley is a Australian novelist, and all her well-regarded novels are set there, but they aren’t really “Australian” in their content or concerns. This one is the story of Rachel Sweetie and Henry Jones, who were best friends once upon a time in the Melbourne suburb of Gracetown when they were very young.

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Lovett, Charlie. The Lost Book of the Grail.

NY: Penguin, 2017.

I’m a book lover and always have been, so a well-written, well-plotted intellectual thriller about librarians and bibliophiles is exactly my cup of tea. This is Lovett’s third novel of that sort — the first two being the very enjoyable The Bookman’s Tale (involving Shakespeare) and First Impressions (Jane Austen)– and this one is well up to that standard.

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Sloan, Robin. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012.

This marvelous book is the nerdiest, geekiest thing I’ve read in ages. It reminds me strongly of Neal Stephenson’s masterpiece, Cryptonomicon — not in subject matter but in its attitudes and in its apparent desire to cram in every subject from computerized cryptography, library ladders, and the early history of printing to the visual analysis of sweaterized breasts, scale model cities, and anthropomorphic knitting needles. Actually, I’ll bet Neal has read this book. And I’ll bet he loved it.

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Published in: on 21 March 2018 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Colgan, Jenny. The Bookshop on the Corner.

NY: HarperCollins, 2016.

Colgan has turned out a number of thematic romances — the story being set in a cafe, or a bakery, or a chocolate shop, or whatever — but this one caught my eye because the setting was apparently a bookstore and the protagonist a librarian. Actually, the original British title, The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After, is much more accurate, since there’s no corner to be found, and the “shop” is actually a large ex-bakery van fitted out with bookshelves.

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Published in: on 14 November 2017 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cave, Roderick & Sara Ayad. The History of the Book in 100 Books.

Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2014.

As a kid, I learned to appreciate books as physical artifacts, as much as for their content. In high school, I learned to love the smell of rare and used bookstores. And in library school, in the late 1960s, I finally took a few courses in the history of books and printing, where I learned about papermaking, the history and practice of typesetting, and the arts of illustration and bookbinding.

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Mallison, Jane. Book Smart.

NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Serious readers, of which I am definitely one, are always on the lookout for thoughtful recommendations of other books one should read. This volume is subtitled “Your Essential Reading List for Becoming a Literary Genius in 365 Days,” which is pure marketing hype and not really what the author proposes. Mallison isn’t a Ph.D. in literature or a big-time critic.

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Published in: on 9 December 2016 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ellington, Elizabeth & Jane Freimiller. A Year of Reading.

Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2002.

All heavy readers, and especially all librarians, tend to pick up any volume that purports to recommend other books that one ought to read, and promises to tell you why they picked these in particular. The subtitle here is “A Month-by-Month Guide to Classics and Crowd-Pleasers for You or Your Book Group,” which tells you the method they have in mind.

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Published in: on 13 September 2016 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lovett, Charlie. First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen.

NY: Penguin, 2014.

Awhile back, I read Lovett’s first novel, The Bookman’s Tale, which also has a bibliographical theme (a lost Shakespeare primary source that time) and quite enjoyed it. This one is even better. The author has been an antiquarian bookseller and he brings that whole slightly strange world very much to life. At the same time, he successfully combines an exciting mystery and detective plot with a believable and non-sappy love story, which isn’t easy.

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Lovett, Charlie. The Bookman’s Tale.

NY: Viking, 2013.

Subtitled “A Novel of Obsession,” so I had my doubts about this one at first. It started out rather like a “women’s novel” (sorry), with a recently widowed young book dealer and conservator relocating from North Carolina to a village in Oxfordshire to escape his ghosts. But it soon turns into a full-bore romp involving the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays, the arcane world of bibliomania, and the history of collectors with money to spend.

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Pratchett, Terry & Stephen Briggs. Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion . . . So Far.

NY: Harper, 2014.

The late Sir Terry Pratchett had and still has a huge fan base — the largest and broadest of any living writer in English until Harry Potter came along — and that means a considerable aftermarket of associational publications. Cookbooks, calendars, tourist guides, maps, posters, probably action figures, they’re all available for purchase.

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Published in: on 21 December 2015 at 8:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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