books about books

I’m not talking about the ‘Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ or ‘The Book Thief’ (although I’ve read those really far too many times than is socially acceptable). I mean non-fiction books about how someone came across their favourite reads, or books about reading new books, or books about talking about books, or books about selling books…yeah, I am properly obsessed.

These are just a few of the books about books that I read or re-read over 2015. (Would most recommend ‘Reading the World’ and ‘Ex Libris’ though obviously the other ones are excellent too).

I guess this is a strange little sub-genre that is sure to sell. At least a little. I’m not sure whether I’m just weirdly obsessed with other people’s reading experiences, but I simply cannot pass books like these up. And to be honest, I don’t think many other fanatical readers can, either. Reading them is like having a little chat with one of my friends about books – that’s why these are some of my favourite things to read when I have insomnia. They’re so friendly and calm, and often go on little side-tangents about authors and reading that are, in a word, charming.

The biggest problem about this sub-genre? My to-read list grows faster than a hamster on speed. All of my copies of these books have a plethora of dog-eared pages – I have to read EVERY book recommended! So what that I’ve never been interested in fiction about the adventures of a bird-watcher, or the gritty realism of the trials facing an insurance broker? I MUST READ IT. It’s lead to some interesting Amazon-recommended emails, believe me.


2016 seems to be a pretty good year for my favourite genre:

‘A Life Discarded’ by Alexander Masters: published May 2016. This book is about 148 notebooks found abandoned in a skip. Masters (author of ‘Stuart, A Life Backwards’) pieces together the biography of this anonymous diarist. (So while not quite books, it’s close enough for me).

‘Never Flirt with Puppy Killers: And Other Better Book Titles’ by Dan Wilbur: published June 2016. Based on Dan Wilbur’s tumblr page (, this is a collection of humorous re-namings of books (‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ becomes ‘My Dad is Cooler than Your Dad’, and ‘The Great Gatsby’ becomes ‘Drink Responsibly’.) I am A HUGE SUCKER for books like these so I will almost certainly be pre-ordering this.

‘Last Night, a Superhero Saved My Life: Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoult, Brad Meltzer, and an All-Star Roster on the Caped Crusaders That Changed Their Lives’ by Liesa Mignogna: published June 2016. Simply: authors talking about superheroes. And it has Neil Gaiman in the title. I’m sold.

‘The Bestseller Code: Why Some Books Make Millions’ by Jodie Archer: published September 2016. Archer discusses the algorithm that can predict whether a book will make number one on theĀ New York Times bestseller list. Basically, this boils down to: Dan Brown, HOW?!

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited! Now excuse me, I need to get back to David Lodge’s ‘The Art of Fiction’. And no, I’m not kidding.


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