I am just over halfway through The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt which I have to say I absolutely love so far. It is utterly beautifully written in fact it’s so rich and filled with wonderful descriptions and depictions that you occasionally need a break which when you have another eleven of the Man Booker isn’t the best option but I took one just for a few hours with a book about books that one of my friends bought for me recently.
Gabriel Zaid’s non-fiction book ‘So Many Books’ isn’t initially what you might think it would be. I was expecting from the cover and from the title that this would be a book all about the books that he loves and with over ten thousand books in his home (which he delightfully calls ‘an embarrassment of books’ – I might steal that) you would think that he would have lots of delightful books to recommend and share with you. Actually what you get, which in many ways is just as good, is a discussion and in many ways a conversation with you about books.
How can it be a conversation if you are reading the book and can’t answer? Well you see that is where Zaid is very clever as he asks many questions and then provides the answers sometimes even with varying thought processes, such as ‘why people read’. He also brings in some amazing facts about books. For example I had no idea that in recent years over 52,000,000 new books get published every year. How on earth are we as readers ever going to read all the books we can?
A new titled book is published every 30 seconds. If a person read a book a day he would be neglecting 4,000 others published on the same day
All this information is definitely for the avid book lover and in some parts it could become incredibly dull but Which when you have an hour or so (one thing I did disagree with him was the fact a paperback book ‘averages at £6 and takes only two hours to read”) to spare and you want to indulge yourself in something a little different during a long read, or just for a change or read this is something for any book lover.
There were a few bits that I had to skip if I am one hundred per cent honest. ‘Culture and Commerce’ was one, which just seemed a little bit too business minded and so I whizzed through. The other was ‘The Supply and Demand of Poetry’ simply because I don’t really read poetry and I couldn’t identify with that. That was only ten pages; the rest of it was incredibly close to home for this reader.
Truly cultured people are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more
With lines like the above, I knew I was in the company of someone very much of my mind, and quite possibly of yours if you are a book-a-holic. I also have to praise the chapter ‘The End of the Book’ which sounds like it could be grim reading for anyone who loves books but Zaid left me with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. A fabulous book, definitely only for the true book lover and addict.
What other books about books are there out there? Which ones would you recommend? Do you like books about books and reading habits or do you just prefer to stick to your fiction?