Monday, July 30, 2012

8 Great Books About Books: ‘Phantoms On the Bookshelves’ & More

Jul 19, 2012 6The Daily Beast

Susan Sontag once claimed to have read every book in her library, but that cannot be true for Jacques Bonnet, because he owns more than 40,000 books! Michele Filgate says he’s written a fine volume on reading and collecting, and she picks seven more great books about books.

Phantoms On the Bookshelves
by Jacques Bonnet
Bonnet owns more than 40,000 books. It’s not the Library of Congress, but for a private collection, it’s pretty solid. In this slim ode to books, the author muses on the life of a serious reader—with Bonnet himself being the ultimate example. In only nine chapters, he talks about many aspects of book collecting: how to organize them, where to acquire them, and the idea of owning a working library rather than just collecting books. Bonnet brings an infectious enthusiasm to the genre. The written word is as important to his identity as his own memories: “To lose one’s books is to lose one’s past,” he says. His love of books is something serious readers can relate to: “I sometimes have the impression that I have really only existed through reading, and I would hope to die…with a book in my hand.” 

books-about-books-the-book-loverThe Book Lover
by Ali Smith 

Smith browsed through her personal library and mused on her favorites. The result is a wonderful glimpse inside the mind of one of our best contemporary writers. She includes work by Angela Carter, Marilynne Robinson, Virginia Woolf, Clarice Lispector, Thomas Hardy, and many other literary voices.

A History Of Reading
by Alberto Manguel
manguel-history-of-readingManguel used to read aloud to Jorge Luis Borges, and it was through this amazing opportunity that he learned about some of the books he now loves. Manguel is a master of the “books about books” genre, having written several nonfiction volumes about his obsession. This particular work focuses on not just the author’s personal reading history, but a general history of one of the best pastimes there is. And one of the sentences in this book is my own personal mantra: “Reading, almost as much as breathing, is our essential function.”

This isn’t so much a book to read from cover to cover but one to leave on the coffee table and open to a random spot. It features beautiful glossy pages and seemingly endless amount of recommendations from various critics and literary experts. You might feel super smart after realizing how many books you’ve already read. 

Read the rest at The Daily Beast.

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