In Blog #4: Books About Books, I described my love of book-related books. The words book, bookstore, book club, library, bibliophile and any other reference of the kind will easily grab me and pull me in, and I’m always on the lookout for new material.
In my quest, I came across Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan. It is as much a mystery as it is a Biblio-book. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit sensitive when it comes to violence and it was a little grislier than I might have liked. But I’ve also described how much I love mysteries and this one pulled me in. I was invested in both the story of Lydia and Joey and the mystery surrounding them. It was a sad story in many ways, but also a satisfying one that I’m glad I read.
Another book I chose for the title is Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and I was pleasantly surprised by yet another mystery that was both old school and new age. Set in my own backyard, I loved the references to San Francisco locations and the Bay Area startup world. With quirky characters and an imaginative story, I found this book to be very engaging and a lot of fun!
Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner also “had me at hello.” It was truly delightful (not a word I often use!) and a great introduction to Colgan’s work. The book was set in Scotland, which appealed to my Scottish ancestry. And the protagonist’s love of books was charming (another word I don’t use often! I think Colgan’s writing style is rubbing off on me.)
There is a great quote from the book that I have added to my list of favorites: “There was a universe inside every human being every bit as big as the universe outside them. Books were the best way Nina knew – apart from, sometimes, music – to breach the barrier, to connect the internal universe with the external, the words acting merely as a conduit between the two worlds.” (pg. 234-235) This resonated with the introvert in me and strengthened my bond with the protagonist, Nina, who is clearly an introvert herself!
The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland features a childhood trauma survivor and bookstore clerk named Loveday who has paid homage to her favorite novels by having their first lines tattooed on her body. This novel should have been right up my alley, but I struggled to get into it. I almost abandoned it, but ultimately was very glad I didn’t as I cried through the ending. Loveday was a wonderful, endearing protagonist and the story was heartwarming, poignant, and enjoyable.
Kathy Cooperman’s title, Crimes Against a Book Club was intriguing to me, hinting at some kind of mystery surrounding a book club. In fact, it wasn’t a mystery and it didn’t really have much to do with the book club. It was all about the two protagonists’ need for money and how they go about getting it—an ordeal that was funny and fast-paced throughout. It’s a perfect book if you want something light and fun.
Through the Bookstore Window by Bill Petrocelli was another book that, contrary to the title, isn’t really about books. The protagonist is a bookstore owner, but that’s the extent of the book-related theme. And yet, aren’t books themselves windows through which we witness our human stories? This book is most definitely that. Told in three POVs, Petrocelli weaves the intersecting lives of his characters, Gina, Alexi, and Davey, with surprising reveals, tense action, and a very heartwarming conclusion.
I’m sure this won’t be my last blog about book-themed novels. I have several on my “want to read” list. What about you? What are your favorite books about books?