Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Favorite Book about Books

This week, we're reading Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell.  Basically, it's all the hilarious, stupid, ridiculous and downright odd stuff that customers have said to her over the years she's worked in a book store.  

Since it's a book about books, Alex and I are going to tell you our favorite books about, well, books.

How awesome is this book?  Even the TITLE is making a literary reference.  It's about (unsurprisingly) three sisters, who all come home for different reasons (though, all of them under the guise of being there for their mother, who is going through chemo and getting an operation.)

The main reason I love this book?  It's got one of the best portrayal of sisterly dynamics I've ever seen.  Do the three get along perfectly through the whole book?  No, not at all.  Actually, they spend a lot of the book criticizing each other and keeping secrets.  But, when it comes down to it, when they really need help, they turn to each other.  One of the sisters keeps her secret for a large part of the book and, when she finally does reveal it, it's to her sisters, not to her parents.

Also, there are books!  The sisters are very different people, but they've all grown up in a house full of books.  There was no television in their house, nothing to distract them from the reading.  Bean is incredibly materialistic, yet she provides us with one of the best quotes of the book (don't worry; no spoilers):

“This conversation, you will not be surprised to know, was the impetus for their breakup, given that it caused her to realize the emotion that she had thought was her not liking him very much was, in fact, her not liking him at all. Because despite his money and his looks and all the good-on-paper attributes he possessed, he was not a reader, and, well, let's just say that is the sort of nonsense up with which we will not put.” 

This book is wonderfully written and powerful and moving and if I could read it every second, of every day, I would.

My selection is "about books" in a different way than Cassy's is.

Whether you like his writing or not, you have to admit that Stephen King knows how to sell books. (Or his agent does. He's sellable, though, and that's the key to success in writing, if you define success by making money.)

In On Writing, King outlines how he got to where he is today. Or where he was in 2000, shortly after his widely publicized near-fatal accident.

The book combines autobiography with writing advice, which I think is helpful, because it shows you where his advice might not fit your needs. The man really knows his stuff, covering everything from idea inspiration to writing mechanics and vocabulary enhancement. I read this book early in undergraduate, and it influenced me heavily, which is something I'm happy about.

1 comment:

  1. A great deal of Neal Stephenson's work can be said to be books about books. Two specific examples would be The Diamond Age or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer and Cryptonomicon, both of which include the title of the book the book is about in their own title. You could make a case that much of his other works are to some degree about a book or similar work within their respective universes: The Baroque Cycle, Snow Crash, Anathem and I haven't read it yet, but I am pretty sure Reamde falls into this too.

    I don't know if either of you have ever read Stephenson, but I think you would get a good deal out of him ;-)