Tag Archives: Gabriel Zaid

Books On Books, Book People on Book People and Writers on Writing

I had a hunt through my blog and as far I could see (at first) I’d never done a post on ‘Books About Books’ even though I have read a few. Way, way back someone delightfully sent me a copy of So Many Books So Little Time by Sara Nelson which you can’t get too easily in stores (though possibly on some certain sites) and more recently So Many Books by Gabriel Zaid and then of course there was Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill earlier in the week. The latter is possibly what initially made this subject hover on my horizon.

Then there was a post by Simon of Stuck-in-a-Book fame who wrote about a book (and also mentioned in HEiotL) which I simply had to get hold of once I had finished reading his review. This book was The Paper House by Carlos Maria Dominiguez which I discussed with you yesterday. I know this is a fictional book about books rather than a proper non-fiction book about book but isn’t that just as delightful? Now instead of rushing of to a certain shopping site or a certain High Street chain I went and had a look on Read It Swap It as why not swap some of my cast off’s for something I really want, plus something that at 102 pages is nice and small so wouldn’t take up too much space. What do you know there it was (plus a copy of another book or three I really wanted) and today it arrived, but not alone as you can see.

Books on Books

Along with The Paper House the lovely sender Caroline had sent me another book called Reflections From A Bookshop Window by Clive Linklater. Not a book I had heard of at all though one that seems very me as the card inside mentioned “Hi Simon, I thought you might like another book on a bookish theme.” Isn’t that just so lovely, it keeps your faith in the book loving community! It was just what I needed after I have been getting a panning in some circles, which we will quickly gloss over, and so this looks a total and utter joy. I also didn’t think that anyone on Read It Swap It would know I have a blog or am such a book obsessive she must be psychic. It’s utterly made my week, naturally Caroline has received a thank you email and low and behold in the response she does indeed read my blog! How very random.

As for Reflections From A Bookshop Window I can’t find any blurbs for it anywhere, though some very good reviews which lead me to believe it’s the tales of a bookseller, and these are all genuine tales, of books and possibly more interestingly in a way the book buying and bookselling public. I opened one page and I was hooked and had to stop myself from turning another page and another and another. This is being reserved for after No Name and a lovely Sunday lie in.

“Booksellers hate Christmas. Booksellers hate the winter when it’s too cold for customers to come into freezing secondhand book shops. Booksellers hate summer when it’s too hot for customers to come into stuffy secondhand bookshops.”

So then I had a meander through my books to see what else fell into this category. I also then found my post on books about books (typical!) that I knew I must have written, and saw I had a few more. Out of the corner of my eye my wonderful old first edition of Daphne Du Maurier’s memoir/autobiography Growing Pains held my attention, and I thought what about books by writers on writing? I loved Stephen King’s book On Writing so maybe I should read more? I have since accidentally, I don’t know how it happened honestly, purchased a copy of Negotiating With The Dead which is Margaret Atwood’s book on writing and writers, so I am thinking one or two of these a month will make for some interesting reading.

Are there any more, I am sure there are, that I have missed? What’s best writers autobiography that you have read? Which author are you desperate to see write their own autobiography? What books on books, be they fictional or not, really shouldn’t be missed by a reader?

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Books About Books

So Many Books – Gabriel Zaid

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?

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Filed under Books About Books, Gabriel Zaid, Review, Sort of Books