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Love reading books about books? Then you’ll love this list filled with books about books, bookstores, readers, writers, libraries, and book clubs! Any bibliophile loves reading about their favorite hobby. Whether you like fiction, nonfiction, memoir, you’ll find the books on books to validate your love of them (and you’ll probably explode your TBR in the process).
Be honest. How many times have you daydreamed about diving into the world of your favorite books?
–>Maybe you’ve been waiting for your Hogwarts letter.
–>Maybe you want to step through some standing stones in Scotland, just in case you could be catapulted back in time and into Jamie Fraser’s arms.
–>Maybe you just HATE the ending of that one book and you want to step into the story to set it right.
Whatever bookish daydreams you harbor, for so many readers there’s this feeling: that books are just a little magical.
Even if you’re not one to dream about jumping into your books, true bookworms often find themselves reflecting on what makes books so important.
To us, they’re more than just items in our homes, and reading is more than just a hobby. It’s life-changing, and life-defining. Books are part of who we are. They shape our world views, change our minds, and take us to new places. In so many ways, books simply are magic.
For all of these reasons–the magic, the world-shaping, the vicarious travel–it makes sense that authors not just write books, but also write books about books.
Because there is so much richness to explore, beyond just the individual books. There are the places we go to find them, the time we spend creating them, the people who read them, and the ways we gather to share them.
All of these things–favorites of bookworms around the world–are what allow these books about books and reading to carve out sentimental places in our readerly hearts.
Here are a few of my favorite books about books, bookstores, readers, writers, libraries, and book clubs. These are truly the perfect books for book lovers.
Books About Books
These choices are truly books about books–meaning that the actual books are central to the narrative. Fiction or nonfiction, we bookworms love reading about books! We know they’re more than just physical objects; books play a role in how we see and relate to the world–and sometimes they’re even a little magical.
Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life
Author: Annie Spence
Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the blog I would write if I had a little more snark in me–only in book form. Book lovers will have a blast reading Annie Spence’s letters to the book she loves, the books she’s retiring from the stacks (she’s a librarian), and the many books that have stayed with her in various ways.
I actually found this hard to put down–it was such a light, funny read, and I looked forward to seeing if she covered any of my favorites. But some of the funniest letters were to the surprising finds that she weeds from the stacks (The One Hour Orgasm and Principles of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, anyone?). One of my favorite nonfiction books about books.
Author: Nicole Krauss
A 14-year old thinks the that book her mother is translating is the key to easing her mother’s loneliness. It’s also the key to Holocaust-survivor Leo Gursky’s long-lost love. Told in alternating narratives, this literary novel slowly tells how their stories converge.
Author: Will Schwalbe
In this nonfiction book about books, Will Schwalbe reflects on the books he’s loved and that have shaped his life. Each chapter focuses on a book and a particular aspect of life (quitting, friendship, trust, connection, etc.). I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s toward the top of my TBR of books on books.
Author: Anna Quindlen
This is another nonfiction addition that I haven’t read yet, but anything my Anna Quindlen has to make the list. In this short book of essays, Quindlen revisits some old favorite books and reflects on the act of reading itself and how it affects our lives in myriad ways. At just 96 pages, this sounds like a delightful little detour for any book lover.
Author: Matt Harry
This middle grade book about a book is perfect for fans of Harry Potter. When a 13-year-old stumbles on a strange bookstore and finds himself the owner of a magical sorcery book, he gets more than the ability to take on school bullies. He and some new friends are drawn into a centuries-old war in which the existence of magic is at stake. Full of fun, adventure, and snark that both kids and adults will appreciate.
Books About Bookstores
What book lover hasn’t dreamt of spending their lives in a bookstore? Thoughts of cozy corners, delicious literary finds, and quirky booksellers keep us going back–and rightly revering our fantastic local bookstores (please support them!).
Author: Jenny Colgan
English librarian Nina Redmond has lost her job–and the world of libraries is changing in ways she doesn’t like. She decides to buy a van and start a roving bookstore in the Scottish Highlands. This cozy book about books is filled with charming characters, sweet romance, lots of book love, and a setting so vivid you can almost smell the fresh air. Try the audio version if you love a light story about books and enjoy a good Scottish brogue.
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
A.J. Fikry is a cranky bookstore owner who has to rethink his life when an unexpected package shows up. A perfect “heartwarming curmudgeon” story for bookworms–books and stories are woven into the lives of the characters as comfort objects, discussion topics, relationship touchpoints, and contemplations on life.
Author: Robin Sloan
I haven’t read this novel about books yet, but I intend to! Touted as “National Treasure for Book Lovers,” this book about a bookstore filled with secrets and magic promises to be pure fun. Reviews seem mixed, but the readers who love this really love it. How can I resist a book about books that prompts such gleeful delight? If you’ve read this, tell me what you think!
Books About Readers
Love stories about your fellow readers? These books about reading and readers are for you! We may be unassuming, but readers have rich inner lives that are perfect dramatic fodder for novels about books.
Author: Abbi Waxman
Nina is an introvert, bookworm, and trivia buff. She is happy with her regimented, small life working in a bookstore and competing on a trivia team (and trying to decide how she feels about an intriguing competitor). Her life is upended when she is named in the will of the father she’s never met–and suddenly she has a large and complicated family.
Nina has moments of mild abrasiveness, excellent snarky humor, and extreme introversion–but I loved how she was quite social, on her own terms. Funny, charming, and relatable.
Author: Betty Smith
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the much-loved classic about a young girl, Francie Nolan, growing up in poverty in turn-of-century Brooklyn. Francie is a bookish, resourceful child, caught between her dreamer of a father and her work-worn, practical mother. Francie is self-aware and a keen observer of people and the life around her, a heroine who manages to continue to seek beauty even as it seems determined to elude her.
Author: Markus Zusak
Set in World War II Germany and narrated by Death, The Book Thief brings us Liesel Meminger. A foster girl who is taught to read and about quiet acts of resistance by her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel attempts to make sense of the horrors happening around her while living her day-to-day. When Max, a Jewish man, moves into the basement, Liesel shares her (stolen) books with him as he shares his stories with her.
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a freshman in college who feels like she’s being left behind. Her twin sister Wren doesn’t want to room with her and is no longer interested in the Simon Snow fandom they’ve been devoted to for years. Cath isn’t ready to let go of her fanfiction, but she isn’t sure where she fits in this new world of cranky roommates and charming classmates. Book lovers will relate to Cath’s devotion to her favorite characters (even if you’ve never been part of a “fandom,” as I haven’t).
Books About Writing and Writers
Authors work so hard to create the books we love, but the creation process is often a fabulous story itself. If you love reading the story behind the story–fiction or nonfiction–try one of these books about authors.
Author: Emily Henry
January has reluctantly moved into the beach house her dad left her after his death. The house was a surprise–as was his second life she never knew about. Now she’s trying to clean out his house, get over her writer’s block and submit her next romance novel to her agent, and deal with her grief. Discovering that her neighbor is her college nemesis, Augustus (Gus)–who also happens to be an award-winning author–isn’t helping. When they make a deal to switch genres, rivalry leads to romance. Fast-paced, a little steamy, and filled with fun banter, some heavy issues added depth to this otherwise light read.
Author: Andrew Sean Greer
Arthur Less is a failing novelist on the brink of turning 50. When he receives an invitation to his former lover’s wedding, embarks on an around-the-world journey to avoid the event. Less is both frustrating and endearing, a bit bumbling, and above all, certain of his own failures. Those around him rarely disabuse him of these notions, but they also see more in him that he sees in himself.
Light on plot and heavy on wandering musings, this Pulitzer Prize winner can be slow at times–but it’s a sweet and sometimes funny read. Certain parts had me laughing out loud.
Author: Dodie Smith
Seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family of dreamers live in a castle in the English countryside, but they are far from wealthy. When two young Americans arrive to take over the estate of their deceased landlord, they bring new hope to the family: of creative patronage, potential marriage, and (continued) free rent.
Aspiring writer Cassandra details the adventures of the family in her journal as they move from abject poverty into high society. Full of charming observations and self-awareness, Cassandra teeters between childhood and adulthood. Through her writing, she comes to realizations about herself, her family, and love. A delightful classic.
Author: Mason Curry
In this quirky nonfiction book, Curry examines the daily rituals of many famous creatives–not just writers, though there are many. The varied rituals of so many successful artists should be reassuring to any aspiring writer: there are no rules for how and when to write (and some of the rituals are truly wild–so go with what works for you!). Strangely addictive; don’t hesitate to skip around to discover how your favorites spent their days.
I also just learned that Curry has a book dedicated to women creatives that looks excellent. Check out Daily Rituals: Women at Work.
Author: Ann Patchett
Less a story of writing than about the friendship between two writers. Author Ann Patchett and the late poet and author Lucy Grealy women met in college and cemented their friendship in graduate school and the years that followed, as both pursued writing careers. Grealy, who in childhood battled cancer that left her without part of her lower jaw, endured ongoing health difficulties and reconstructive surgeries.
Grealy was a needy, all-consuming friend–talented, tortured, and plagued by addiction and her need for love. Patchett, for her part, basked in Lucy’s need for her, as well as their shared goals and talent. The two moved toward success together, and the journey must have felt magical and pre-destined, if not always healthy. Patchett’s writing shines, as always, as does her narration in the audio version.
Author: Paula McClain
The story of Ernest Hemingway’s third wife, Martha Gellhorn, and her efforts to forge her own identity as a writer. Gellhorn was a war correspondent, brave and accomplished in her own right. She and Hemingway were magnetic, but also fraught; it’s no surprise that he was difficult. While I’m not a fan of Hemingway, the question of what drew Gellhorn to him, beyond his fame, loomed large for me. Compelling historical fiction for any book lover.
Author: Stephen King
One of the most popular books on writing books, King’s memoir is a must-read for anyone who dreams of writing. I have never read any other Stephen King books because I know I’d have nightmares and be afraid to go in my basement (anyone else still give those wide-open storm sewers from IT the side-eye?). But I loved this; King is a prolific writer who knows how to tell a story, and he has great lessons to share with other storytellers.
Books About Libraries
Libraries can be just as magical as bookstores–and for many of us, they loom large because of childhoods spent wandering and then taking home for free (!) the books that would become our favorites. Libraries are one of the few public spaces left where people can linger, learn, and connect without spending a dime. They will always be magical to me, and I love reading books about libraries.
Author: Sue Halpern
In a failing New Hampshire town, a trio of loners come together in a small Carnegie library. Kit, a quiet librarian in her early forties; 15-year-old Sunny’s, who is doing community service for stealing a dictionary; and Rusty, the professionally dressed man who starts showing up all day, every day. Along with The Four–the retirees who spend mornings over coffee and the paper at the library, this trio finds comfort in one another–and in the library.
Author: Susan Orlean
Grounded in the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library, Orlean examines both the fire and the critical role of libraries in our lives. I haven’t read this yet, but it’s sitting on my shelf just waiting for me. This description is irresistible for a library and book lover: “…The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country.”
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
This ambitious and daring novel imagines the life of Ana, the fictional wife of Jesus. Kidd creates a compelling narrative for this woman, casting her at the center of her own story and granting her a feminism and independence that someone like Jesus would have appreciated. Ana has a love of words. While not central to the story, the Library of Alexandria is a prominent location in it, and book lovers will appreciate the setting.
Author: Rebecca Makkai
Ten-year-old Ian is a bookworm, and young librarian Lucy Hull helps him smuggle books past his overbearing mother. He also might be gay, much to the horror of his parents, who have sent him to conversion classes with Pastor Bob. When he shows up at the library with a plan to run, Lucy finds herself an unwitting kidnapper, driving Ian halfway across the country with a half-formed plan to save him. The bookish references and the belief in the power of books will delight avid readers.
Author: Jojo Moyes
In a small Appalachian town in Kentucky, five women have committed to join the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky, an initiative to bring books to isolated families. Newcomer Alice joins up and finds friendship with the women, independence in the mountains, and camaraderie with the families who love the stories they bring each week. But a little education can be threatening to those in power, and the women become the target of several campaigns to bring them down.
I loved this historical fiction novel, but I must also mention the controversy around this book and plagiarism concerns raised by Kim Michele Richardson, author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, which covers the same topic. I haven’t read Book Woman yet, but I’d love to hear from readers who have read both.
Author: Matt Haig
A sci-fi book about a library with an infinite number of books, each telling the story of your life as it could have been, if you’d made another choice. I have not read this book yet and am not typically a big sci-fi fan, but that premise is too much–I must get my hands on it!
Author: Fiona Davis
This historical fiction book is backdropped by the New York Public Library, where Laura Lyons’ husband works as the superintendent and the family live in 1913. Laura is pulled into a mystery when valuable books are stolen, and the impact of the theft reverberates 80 years later. This is another book that’s new in 2020 that I haven’t read yet, but I was sold at the premise of LIVING IN THE LIBRARY. ::dies::
Books About Book Clubs
Something else readers love? Book clubs! Reading may largely be a solitary activity, but we make it social by gathering with others–in person or virtually, in large groups or small–to talk about the books we read. We often think of book clubs as low-key, once-a-month gatherings, but don’t think they aren’t the catalyst for many-a-story. These books about book clubs prove it.
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
There aren’t many World War II novels that could be described as “charming,” but The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is just that. Told as a series of letters between an author in post-World War II England and the residents of the island of Guernsey, we learn how an impromptu book club, invented as an excuse for missing curfew, becomes a touchpoint for the members. Between the epistolary storytelling and the book club at the center of it all, this is truly an ode to power of words.
Author: Helen Hooven Santmyer
This modern classic has been on my TBR for ages–so many readers love it. Set in a small southwestern Ohio town from 1868-1932, members of a book club chronicle how their town changes over the years, and what those changes mean to the ladies.
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
When an intriguing woman appears at the neighborhood book club and threatens to derail Amy’s perfect life by revealing secrets she’d rather leave buried, Amy has to figure out who just who the woman is, what she knows, and how to beat her at her own game.
Jackson was on point with her usual quirky, well-developed characters and excellent writing. The book club may not be central, but I love that it’s the catalyst for this a twisty cat-and-mouse game that truly surprises.
Author: Will Schwalbe
When Will Schwalbe’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, he began attending chemotherapy treatments with her and discussing the latest books they had read. This soon grew into a “book club” of two, where mother and son shared book discussions, memories, and thoughts on living.
Support Local Bookstores
Now, more than ever, local bookstores need our support. If you are purchasing books, consider buying local or from Bookshop.org, which supports local, independent bookstores.
Shop my book lists or search Bookshop.org for your next great read:
Shop this list on Bookshop.
What are your favorite books about books?
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- The 10 Best Books of 2020 (So Far)
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