Tales from the Biblio-Files
Some people have so many books at home there’s nowhere to put them. Stacks of them (the people?) fill the rooms and threaten to topple onto the bed.
(Yeah, I have all these crowds of avid readers standing in my bedroom all night with their noses in books, noisily flipping the pages. In my dreams.)
Luckily, you don’t have to own every book you want to read, you can check some of them out from the San Mateo County Library.
Books on Book Lovers, Book Sellers, and Book Collectors
- 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene. Hanff. 1970. Charming correspondence between the author and the staff of a London bookshop reflects the blooming of a 20-year friendship with one reserved staff member in particular.
Also a movie with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins: 84 Charing Cross Road [videorecording], 2002.
- The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald, 1978. In this novel, a widow opens a bookshop in a small, bleak, English seaside town and runs afoul of the local powers-that-be. “Darkly comic.” (Bookpage reviews)
- Women Who Love Books Too Much: Bibliophiles, Bluestockings, & Prolific Pens from the Algonquin Hotel to the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Brenda Knight. 2000. This is more about women writers than readers, but it’s interesting and entertaining, with an eye-catching layout. Made for book groups.
- Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins. 2003. The author moves his young family from San Francisco to Hay-on-Wye, Wales, so he can immerse himself in the 40 bookstores of this small town (pop. 1500). Collins loves odd finds and facts, and his enthusiasm for forgotten tomes is infectious.
- Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World by Nicholas A. Basbanes. 2005. The author of A Gentle Madness and other works on bibliophilia, Basbanes writes here about books that have made a difference. Possibly the best part of the work is the interviews with well-known readers/thinkers like Harold Bloom, Robert Coles, and Elaine Pagels.
- Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. by Jeremy Mercer. 2005. Mercer was a crime reporter in Canada when he found it necessary to flee from the mob and hide out in Paris. There he found a home and a job at the famed Left Bank bookstore Shakespeare & Co., a sanctuary for eccentrics and aspiring writers. It was a lot better than doing hard time, he says.
- Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books by Aaron Lansky. 2006. Lansky was 23 years old when he decided to try to rescue the Yiddish books being discarded by libraries, by the non-Yiddish-speaking children of the older generation, by aging Jews moving out of their homes and apartments, from Cuba, Argentina and Russia. Twenty-five years later, he has assembled more than a million books.
- The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett. 2009. “In the tradition of The Orchid Thief,” the author gets mixed up in the world of a jailed book thief and her journalistic objectivity blurs.
Photo credit: nannetteturner
Vaughn Harrison dreams about the Half Moon Bay Library and the Bookmobile.