Recommended by Book Bloggers: Quirky Books about Books

Alone in Berlin was instantly recognisable to me from the numerous reviews in the blogosphere.

Alone in Berlin was instantly recognisable to me from the numerous reviews in the blogosphere.

I have a confession to make. I keep copies of bloggers’ book reviews in a database. This enables me to click on my ‘Books to Acquire’ folder to remind myself of possible purchases. It’s so much more visual than merely bookmarking. Here then are the titles in my folder that are about books themselves. They’re all linked to the blog reviews that inspired my interest. Enjoy!

  • How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard. Recommended by Letizia at Reading Interrupted in response to my review of How to Become Ridiculously Well-Read in One Evening. From Eriks Bredovskis’ review: ‘Bayard argues that we shouldn’t think of books as existing within a vaccum. Rather, we should approach “books as a system,” where books exist in relation to each other. […] Avoid this book if: You don’t like French academics.’
  • Dodge Rose by Jack Cox. A labyrinthine novel whose subject is, to an extent, how novels are made and from what. This appeals to me as someone who programs code to generate editable text. From the review on Vertigo: ‘The real joy of this book is its narration. In the first half the narrator is Maxine, and what a character she is. She tends to uses language aggressively (the “thrashed cement” of a building’s architecture, for example), employing a vocabulary that will have readers scrambling for a dictionary. (“Paul might have yelled if his blasted thropple hadn’t amphigoried such a natural reflex into something resembling a distant trill.”) Random, disconnected thoughts – often in Latin, French, German, or Italian – frequently bubble up into her narrative flow, forcing comprehensibility to unravel on a regular basis. Does young Maxine really speak all of these languages? At one point she blurts out: “Who the hell gave me this extravagant education”?’
  • The Loss Library and Other Unfinished Stories by Ivan Vladislavić. A book about unfinished work that, now I re-read the review at roughghosts, still reminds me of the more lucid end of OuLiPo: ‘Together they encounter a room filled with books that remain unwritten because their authors lost faith in them, and he is shown a collection of the books that lost their way or were talked out of existence before they had a chance to be realized. They pass through a room containing books that were destroyed, stop at a shelf of books that comes into being by evocation of the proper author’s name (any guesses?) and, finally, enter a room of floating, ghostly, ethereal books – those that presented themselves to their would-be writers in dreams.’
  • The Anatomy Of Bibliomania by Holbrook Jackson. This book was recommended by a friend on Facebook in response to one of my WP posts. From the publisher’s website: ‘Jackson inspects the allure of books, their curative and restorative properties, and the passion for them that leads to bibliomania (“a genial mania, less harmful than the sanity of the sane”). With deliciously understated wit, he comments on why we read, where we read–on journeys, at mealtimes, on the toilet (this has “a long but mostly unrecorded history”), in bed, and in prison–and what happens to us when we read.’
  • The Author and Me by Éric Chevillard. A mix of fiction and authorial interruption on Chevillard’s relationship with it. From the review at, again, roughghosts: ‘… the tale, or rather tales and other sundry comments exist on two levels: in what might be considered the primary text and in an extensive series of footnotes, which at one point digress into a 40 page story called The Ant. And linking it all is the character’s (and possibly the author’s) explicit loathing for cauliflower gratin.’

It’s been satisfying to acknowledge reviews that have roused my interest! Book blogging does influence what people read. It would be great to see more posts that show the reviews that have lead to either reading or adding to lists for future reading.

My next review will be of Alone in Berlin, the reviews of which made it instantly recognisable to me during a charity bookshop visit. Next month I shall post about books with a European flavour that bloggers have interested me in.

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14 Responses to Recommended by Book Bloggers: Quirky Books about Books

  1. Sarah says:

    What a great idea for a post! I like your idea for filing the reviews of books you intend to follow up on as i often end up reading books on the recommendations of other bloggers but then can’t for the life of me remember where I got the tip off from!

    Like

    • Jeff says:

      I compiled my wish lists during a long period in which I had no money. I wasn’t able to just go out and spend on new books, so it was like playing fantasy football with titles. Now I can afford them, I have my lists. I thought it’d be nice to give credits to those who passed on their discoveries so I could, in turn, find them. So you’re right, it is a good idea for a post – book bloggers should be encouraged!

      Like

  2. Books about books, and other readers’ recommendations are so bad for the TBR…

    Like

  3. JacquiWine says:

    An interesting selection of books. Your comments on the footnotes in the Chevillard reminded me of Bartleby & Co by Enrique Vila-Matas, an intriguing book on the various literary Bartlebys down the years. It’s written as a series of footnotes to a non-existent text. Have you read it by any chance? Sounds strange I know, but it does work.

    Like

  4. Ste J says:

    More intriguing books to add to the wishlist, I swear it’ll never dip below 650 books, still never short of an idea in the shop. A database is a good idea, probably better than going by just one review as well when you cross reference and all that technical stuff.

    Like

    • Jeff says:

      >when you cross reference and all that technical stuff
      Wow, not that many on my list! Actually, what’s proven a surprise is that I was passing a bookshop last weekend, and I went in and asked them to pop up my blog so I could place orders. Posting wish-lists as a portable aide-memoire for ordering – I’ve invented a technique!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ste J says:

        I like that idea, I find for some reason my wishlist, stored on a certain site that sells books (which I don’t frequent unless I am desperate) doesn’t load on my phone so that would be handy and of course having the blog up naturally comes to the subject of featuring the shop and such and then before you know it, they’ve rounded your purchase to the nearest nought of five, like a raffle.

        Liked by 1 person

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