Books about books

There are such bookworms for whom even a break between reading is also reading. In such cases, the topic is simply changed, it is possible to resort to something that is not usually relevant to their interests, etc.

So for me, the so-called break is reading books about books. More specifically: these are books about writing, reading, perception, about the reader and writer, about libraries and bookstores, and so on. It seems that such books can serve as a substitute for a certain club of interested parties. On their pages, sharp discussions take place, fascinating debates take place, and sometimes just meditative confessions about a favorite book pour out.

In fact, the list of books about books can be expanded, branched into subtopics and subgenres, broken down by features and topics. However, it is not my intention to outline certain specifics of such books, but rather to outline the possible horizons of this broad field, as well as to offer my own list of those that I have read. And everyone could remove something from it, replace it with their own, add something fresh and more interesting.

After reviewing my reading list, I saw that it can be conditionally divided into two parts: non-fiction and fiction.
Books about books 1

“Book about reading”    Justyna Sobolewska,

Polish writer and literary critic.

About the reading process and all rituals related to it.
An easy and at the same time rich reading, from which you get pleasure and at the same time you are surprised by the fleetingness of the time spent on this pleasure. The broad discourse of the reading experience is the discourse of famous literary heroes and writers, including Polish ones. Small, but rich chapters reveal many fascinating topics related to reading: about various methods of arranging books in the home library, about using unusual bookmarks, about reading aloud, about reading in the toilet, confessions about unread books, about trips to literary and writing places etc.
“A reader who visits literary places sometimes behaves not like a friend, but like a lover, because he wants to look at everything through the eyes of a writer, to breathe the same air with him. Only this allows him to understand what his favorite author wrote about.”
“Visiting literary places is like summoning spirits.”
“Finding bookmarks in books becomes a sentimental journey into the past.”

“Don’t expect to get rid of the books!”   Umberto Eco

Italian philosopher, medieval scholar, semiotician, writer;

About books, about home libraries, folios, collecting – a dialogue between two famous Europeans, avid bibliophiles. Lod Carriere, French director, screenwriter, novelist, historian, actor. Jean-K
Many interesting examples from the history of book printing, incunabula, manuscripts, as well as a deep analysis of writing, cinema and culture of different peoples in general. The interlocutors are owners of huge private collections, they know about collector’s cuisine firsthand. And surprisingly, both are fascinated by the history of human stupidity. Yes, in the history of mankind there are many examples of its times of saving benefit for the future – p
but thanks to enemies, critics and prohibitions, some masterpieces of writing have reached us. And the discussion of the topic of the massiveness of the Internet, which is often considered a devastating threat to the book, turns into a balanced analysis of these processes and the discovery of many new optimistic sides. There is no point in fearing the disappearance of the book: because even when everything is destroyed (and at least electricity), humanity will lose the way to reproduce the text from a flash drive, read it on a discharged iPhone, etc., and the book will become unusable only if the ability to read is lost.
“A book is like a spoon, a hammer, a wheel or scissors. After they were invented, you can’t think of anything better.”

“The book appears to us as a kind of “wheel of knowledge and imagination”: no future technological revolutions will be able to stop it.” say that the library does not necessarily have to consist of books that we have read or will read someday. These are books that we can read. Or they could read. Even if we never open them.”

“Like a novel”   Daniel Pennac

French writer, teacher.

About concrete and clear methods of how to instill in children a love of reading.
The author analyzes problems in the family related to the “struggle” of parents with children – how to get a child to read. Exposes ineffective methods, as a result of which the child gets an even greater aversion to the book, perceives reading as a punishment. Talks about the problems of reading at school, illustrating with specific negative examples of literature lessons. As a solution, he offers such a “non-standard” almost magical method as simply the teacher’s own boundless love for the book. It also talks about the question of time, about reading aloud, about the intimate personal dimension of reading.
“Yes… Television, elevated to the rank of a reward – and reading, accordingly, relegated to the category of duties… our find, not someone else’s.”
“The best that we have read, we owe most often to those who are dear to us, and with those who are dear to us, we will talk about it. Probably, because attachment, like the desire to read, means preference.”
“Time to read is always stolen time. (Kak, by the way, and time to write, time to love.) Whose stolen things? Let’s say it’s a duty to live.”
“Time to read, as well as time to love, expands time consisting of minutes and hours.”
“I never had time to read, but nothing could ever prevent me from finishing my favorite novel.”

“Reading lessons. Kamasutra of the Scribe”   Oleksandr Genis

Russian writer, literary critic, critic, radio presenter.

About writers, about their works, analysis of works and methods of their reading.
The book is interesting, but too subjective, if you can say so. Many thoughts about books and literature in general (35 lessons in total) based on my own reading experience. The author demonstrates a wide knowledge of literature. Analytics, comparisons, fresh findings, etc. are present. The story is not boring, there are many stories and examples that start each new chapter intriguingly. It is not surprising that the Russian author mainly focuses on Russian literature, thereby narrowing the topic. But what the author definitely did not miss is with the title.
“You can’t judge guilt by degrees, and you need to be able to read different books in different ways.”
“The skill of reading is honed throughout life, never reaching its limit, because it has no purpose other than pure enjoyment. Reading is private, portable, publicly available, everyday happiness – for everyone and for free.”
“The performance gives literature what paper takes away from it – the third dimension. But the theater takes away the author’s freedom of speech. Fixed in the body, it is doomed to carry the ego until the curtain falls, even if the body of the word is not in front of the face.

“The art of thinking about books you haven’t read”  Pierre Bayard

French publicist, literature teacher.

About not reading books, about the possibility of conversations about unread books, about types of unread books.
The most unconventional approach to talking about books. However, this is a sincere confession of what most especially well-read, intellectual people are afraid to talk about. The author does not adhere to the duality of books: read and not read. Everything is much more complicated – we forget the content of the books we have read, some we only flip through, others we have heard a lot about. And to what category should such relationships with books be attributed? The guiding thesis: reading books and talking about them are two different things, often even opposite. Each topic in this regard is illustrated by a plot from a certain novel, which more characteristically reveals the essence of the author’s thought.
“Except for money and sex, there are few areas of life about which it would be as difficult to hear the truth from people as about the books read.”
“Who will be the best reader: the one who reads deeply into one work, but cannot place it in the general picture, or the one who does not get involved in anything, but has an idea about all of them?”
“Conversations about books are very closely connected with relationships between people, they depend on the psychological schedule, that is, relationships with another person, whatever their nature, affect relationships with the text, and accordingly, it also imposes its own stamp on the text.”
“The book does not freeze once and for all, but is a mobile object, and its mobility is connected with the system of relations and relationships that is built around it.”
“In a conversation about a book, the book does not play such an important role as the moment of the conversation itself.”
Books about books 2

“If a traveler one winter night”   Italo Calvino

Italian writer.

About other books, about reading and readers, about a separate, intimate, special world of dialogue between a person and a book.
The non-standard form of the presentation of the novel, the structure of the text, in which all the contents seem to be transformed into the servants of this new form, serve as a means to interest and hold attention until the end of the reading process, until the last page. It is not so much the unexpected twists and turns and the impossibility of guessing where everything will come to in the finale that intrigues – the very process of creation, layering and complication during reading fascinates. At one point, the reader turns into the Reader – the main character of the book. And the reader loses consciousness long after such focus, focusing on the plot. As a result, the Reader together with the reader has to read 10 unfinished novels, each of which somehow intersects with the previous one. But not in content, but rather in form, history, context – creating together an almost detective literary-cultural-personal discourse. At first it seems that these 10 texts should be leading in the novel, albeit incomplete. But later you realize that their contents and plots are so different that they cannot connect with each other. Somewhere in the middle of the book, you begin to understand that these stories are rather lyrical digressions, and at first glance secondary passages become the main ones.
“My style, my taste, my convictions, my identity, my culture, my life experience, my composition of soul, my gift, my favorite methods – everything that makes my writing recognizable, seems to me a bodily cell.”
“Only because of the limitations of the written act we perform, that is, because of mistakes in writing words, mistakes, slips, scribbles and scribbles, the infinity of the unwritten begins to be read. Otherwise, what is outside of us would not resort to the word – spoken or written. It would have announced itself in some other way.”

“451° Fahrenheit”   Ray Bradbury

American science fiction writer.

About the prohibition of reading as an element of control over society.
The novel clearly exposes the peculiarities of consumerist society, total control over people. And actually here the books stand in the way, i.e. those that are still left. The mission of firefighters is to burn such remains in houses. People are forbidden to read, and accordingly – to think, because the book can provoke moods and trends different from the prevailing ones.
“So that a person is always in a crowd, so that the feeling of herdness does not leave him – then he will not have time to think.”
“Books are just one of the containers where we keep what we are afraid to forget. They have no charms. The magic is in what they say, in the way they sew the pieces of the universe together.”
“And books are a loaded gun in a neighbor’s apartment. Burn her! Discharge the gun! Destroy the human mind!”
“There are worse crimes than burning books. For example, don’t read them.”

“Book of Complaints”   Momo Kapor

Serbian writer, artist, screenwriter.

About the bookstore as a carrier of culture, as a center of the city’s intellectuals.
The main character of the novel is the salesman Peja Lukacs, an unremarkable modest man, in love with books, who understands their role as a developmental pillar of a person. But naive and sincere intentions to develop a love of reading among the residents of the capital do not bypass the political system, and the complex of a permanent sense of guilt, which a priori exists in the hero’s genes, only stimulates the processes against him. But the understanding that books have always been an indicator of the cultural and spiritual level of the state does not go anywhere. The book is a platform for the destruction of the elite and free thought in general, but at the same time it is a means of propagandizing profitable and necessary strategies among the people. Even those who do not read books, perhaps, treat books with even greater piety, subconsciously feeling their power and secret energy, which works inexplicably to their limited brains.
“However, a bookstore is not only a place where you can buy a book. This is something much bigger, expressed in lofty language – a small temple of literature in the midst of age-old darkness, something like a sanctuary for those who have not yet been completely consumed by the passion for acquisition, gluttony and cheap entertainment.

“Red Room”  August Strindberg

Swedish writer, playwright.

About the press as an important political body that can create public opinion.
Life in Sweden in the 60s of the XIX century Very bright and clear examples of usurpation and abuse of power by the bureaucracy. The poverty of representatives of art who, in the cruel conditions of their own existence, yield to principles and turn into “political artists”. The main character alone tries to fight against the great evil that has entered the state standard, got under the nails of every official, and even took root in the desperate hearts of the peasants. It is practically impossible to live peacefully, create and earn money without casting your vote in the general urn of worshiping the ruling elite. Internal intrigues and self-interested projects from the outside are skillfully disguised as good for society, which is permanently and with clear periodicity covered in the paper media. Even charity has lost its last hope of being exclusively charity.
“All you need to do is give in to the harsh laws of necessity, learn, so to speak, to split and discover in yourself two “I’s”: the poet, carried away by a dream to the mountain heights, where inspired voices sing, and the human creator of his life, who knows how to get bread for every day.”
P.S. In the list, I do not mention such books as, for example, “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco (which I read a long time ago and somewhat forgot) or “The Book Thief” by Markus Zuzak (which I am reading now) – which are also related to this topic, but time or lost, or haven’t yet covered my thoughts on them.