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 (www.danwilbur.tumblr.com), 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 the 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.