Tag Archives: Sort of 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?


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

The Fantastic Book of Everybodys Secrets – Sophie Hannah

I had wanted to get this book since Polly had picked up a copy for her beach holiday and been very tempted but I am not normally great with short stories (other than Sherlock Holmes) as a rule, something that I want to change. However I found this in Oxfam and you cant go wrong with a brand new book that’s only just out in pristine condition for 99p can you? Plus its recycling and giving money to charity, I must do a post on the best charity and book shops round my way sometime. Sorry I digress.

This was the book I started on my last night in Philadelphia (yes the holiday where I took too many books) and was the book for my flight back, I needed something entertaining that would take my mine of the fact I hate flying and I was in a tin can 30,000 feet above earth. Did it do the trick? Indeed it did.

Sophie Hannah predominantly writes new crime thrillers and poetry which I haven’t read yet (did you know that her mother is the author Adele Geras?) yet you could see both of these reflected in this collection of dark twisted tales. Her prose has a rhythm and natural flow and she manages to say a lot in a paragraph, also the plotting of these short stories I thought was excellent none of them seemed too long or too short they were just right.

‘The Octopus Nest’ is a very dark tale that won Hannah several awards and you can see why, the twist isn’t until the very last paragraph and is genuinely creepy. Other tales feature obsession, jealousy, envy and madness. I don’t want to give too much away so I shan’t waffle on much more. This is an incredibly accomplished and entertaining collection of stories and made me run out and get her crime novels, one of which I must read soon. It was also the perfect book for escapism, I completely forgot I was in the plane, and have enjoyed reading it a home since I have come back. I might yet be converted to short stories, I will have to try some other collections at some point, if anyone has any recommendations please let me know.

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Filed under Review, Short Stories, Sophie Hannah, Sort of Books