There’s one thing we all know for sure. People who regularly read books… love books. We love the way they look, the way they feel, the way they smell. We love admiring our collection of books on our shelves (even if we’ve only read, like, half of them). We love shopping for books. We love talking about books. We love writing about books. We love reading books. And, yes, we love reading about books. Books are more than just a hobby. They’re a lifestyle.
Is it any wonder then that so many books are stories about books? Sure, reading is fun, but consider the pure euphoria of reading a book about other people who also have a deep love of literature? It’s reader kryptonite. If you want to fuel your love for books, just read more about other people who love books and watch how your obsession grows.
The other fun thing about books about books? They really run the gamut in terms of genre. Book lovers are everywhere: in literary fiction, thrillers, romance, fantasy, nonfiction, satire, and more. If you want true joy in your reading life, add a bunch of books about books to your TBR pile. Not sure where to start? Here are 20 books about books that are absolute must-reads.
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
June Hayward dreams of being a literary star, but she worries no one cares about reading stories about white girls. So when her friend Athena Liu unexpectedly dies, June does the only thing she can think to do: she steals Athena’s manuscript, an experimental novel about Chinese laborers in World War I, and submits it as her own work. With this new book, June rebrands herself as Juniper Song and uses an ethnically ambiguous picture as her author photo. The book becomes a New York Times bestseller, but June can’t escape her guilt, or the fear that her secret will come out.
The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer
Jack Masterson was the best-selling author of the beloved Clock Island series. But then he suddenly quit writing under mysterious circumstances. Now he’s back and he’s written a brand new book. What’s more, he’s holding a contest at his home on the real Clock Island. Four lucky contestants will be invited to join him there for an opportunity to obtain the one and only copy of his new book. For twenty-six-year-old Lucy Hart, who found solace in the Clock Island books, this contest is the opportunity of a lifetime. But she’ll have to compete against others before she can get to the book…including one far-too-handsome competitor, Hugo Reese. Meanwhile, Jack Masterson still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
The Last Word by Taylor Adams
Ever think a negative Goodreads review would get you into trouble? That’s what happens to Emma Carpenter in The Last Word. After she leaves a one-star review for a poorly written horror novel by an author named H.G. Kane, she finds herself in a nasty online argument with the author himself. But it doesn’t stop there. As more and more mysterious and disturbing things start happening to her, Emma worries that this author is actually stalking her. Who is H.G. Kane? And what is he capable of?
Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs
Of course, all books are a little bit magic, but in Emma Törzs’ debut novel Ink Blood Sister Scribe, these books are seriously magic. Joanna and Esther are half-sisters who have been raised to protect a collection of rare books that allow the reader to do magic. The only problem? The sisters haven’t spoken for years. But then their father dies after reading a mysterious book they’ve never seen before, and the sisters are forced to reunite to protect their family’s books. In the process, they’ll discover just how big the world of magic truly is.
The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson
Running a bookshop is every book lover’s dream. But when Maggie Banks arrives in Bell River to help run her best friend’s bookstore, she realizes the job isn’t going to be as easy as she thought. The town’s literary society is stuck in the past, and they insist the bookstore only carries the classics. If Maggie wants the bookstore to succeed, however, she’s going to have to think outside of the box. And so she starts a secret book club, celebrating the forbidden contemporary books that readers actually love to read.
By the Book by Jasmine Guillory
By the Book is a sweet, modern romcom retelling of the classing fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast.” Isabelle is one of the few Black employees at her publishing company, and the job is nothing like she thought it would be. She feels overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. So when Isabelle hears about Beau Towers, a “beastly” author who has yet to turn in his promised manuscript, she sees an opportunity. All she has to do is show up at Beau’s mansion in Santa Barbara and convince him to finish the manuscript. Then she’ll surely get that long-overdue promotion. Simple enough, right?
Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward
In Catriona Ward’s Looking Glass Sound, a writer tries to come to terms with the horrors of his past. Wilder Harlow experienced on summer that changed everything. When he was young, a killer stalked his small town in Maine, and a life-shattering tragedy bonded Wilder to his friends Nat and Harper. Now, decades later, Wilder has returned to the town to write his memoir in the hopes of making sense of that summer. But the longer he spends in the town and the more he writes, the more Wilder feels like he’s losing his grip on reality. In fact, it feels as if the book is somehow writing itself.
The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest
Lily Greene is a shy book-lover who dreams of one day becoming a children’s book editor. But for the past several years, she’s been stuck doing nonfiction. The biggest joy in Lily’s life is her correspondence with her favorite fantasy author. It seems like forming a close friendship, until he stops writing her out of nowhere. Three months later, still missing her author friend and desperate to find a date to her sister’s wedding, she reaches out to her friendly new neighbor Nick Brown for help. Little does she know that Nick is actually the children’s author who ghosted her.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Set in Barcelona in 1945, during the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, this is the story of a strange book and the young boy who becomes fascinated by the mystery behind it. After Daniel discovers Julián Carax’s The Shadow of the Wind, he seeks out other books written by the author only to find that all of Carax’s written works are being destroyed. In fact, Daniel’s book might be the last book by the author in existence. Who would want to get rid of these books? And who is this mysterious author?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living in Nazi Germany in Munich in 1939. Even while the world around her is falling apart, Liesel finds joy in stealing books, which her accordion-playing foster father helps her learn to read. Liesel shares her love of books and love of reading with others, including her neighbors and the Jewish man hiding in their basement. Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, this novel is narrated by Death itself.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Nina Hill has everything she could ever want: a job at a bookstore, a killer trivia team, and a cat named Phil. But her life is upended when the father she never even knew she had dies, introducing her to a big family she never knew she was a part of. Nina is way more comfortable in the pages of a book than she is talking to strangers. And even worse, it’s not just her family that wants to get to know her. Tom, her cute trivia nemesis, is suddenly interested in spending more time with her too. If only people were as easy to read as books.
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
A mystery hidden within a mystery novel? This is the ideal whodunit for all book lovers. Alan Conway’s detective novels starring Atticus Pünd are reminiscent of classic British crime novels by authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. And Pünd is a wildly popular character. So popular that Conway’s editor Susan Ryeland is willing to put up with a lot of the author’s more eccentric behavior. But as Susan sits down to read Conway’s latest manuscript, she becomes increasingly suspicious that the story holds the key to a real-life murder mystery.
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill
Here’s another bookish murder mystery. This one is set in the reading room at the Boston Public Library. When, out of nowhere, a scream shatters the calm, security guards rush to investigate straight away. They ask everyone else to remain where they are until they can figure out what happened. While stuck inside the reading room, four strangers who just happened to be sitting at the same table strike up a conversation. Each of them has their own reason for being in the reading room that day. And each of them has a secret. One of them is a murderer.
The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
How life-changing is your TBR list? While working at a local library, Aleisha finds a list of books she’s never heard of before crumpled up in the back of a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. Intrigued, she decides to make it her mission to read every book on that list. The books end up being magical and transformative, and so Aleisha passes the list on to her widowed grandfather, in the hopes that they will help him as well. This book is a beautiful story about how books bring us together and can help make us feel whole again in the face of tragedy and loss.
Hell of a Book by Jason Mott
Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book tells the story of a Black author on tour to promote his latest bestselling novel. The book also follows the story of Soot, a young Black child who lives in the South in the recent past and who also appears to the author while he’s on tour. As these two characters’ stories converge, we also learn more about a tragic police shooting that has shaken the nation.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Cussy Mary is a traveling librarian who has come to the Appalachian town of Troublesome Creek as part of Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project. But the people of Troublesome Creek aren’t necessarily fond of the project, and they’re wary of Cussy. Especially because Cussy has blue skin, one of the last of her kind. If Cussy wants to make this book project a success, she’ll have to overcome the deep-seated prejudice in the community.
Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread by Michiko Kakutani
Michiko Kakutani is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic. In this collection of essays, the former New York Times critic shares memories of the books that have meant the most to her over the years and what these stories can teach us about the world today. Kakutani’s essays include important works of American history, classic children’s literature, acclaimed contemporary fiction, and more.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Here’s another fascinating nonfiction book about books, from Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief. In this book, New Yorker reporter Orlean weaves in her own love of books and reading with an investigation into a strange and unexplained fire. On April 28, 1986, the Los Angeles Public Library went up in flames, a fire that went on for more than seven hours. By the time it was over, it had destroyed four hundred thousand books. But over thirty years later, it is still unknown how this happened. Was the fire started by someone on purpose? And if so, who and why?
The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree & Arthur der Weduwen
If you’re a book lover, then you know libraries are magical places. But how did libraries come to be? Historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen explore this and more in The Library: A Fragile History. This is the storied and often troubled history of libraries across the world, from the antiquarians and philanthropists who curated some of the world’s greatest book collections to the crimes against rare manuscripts and everything in between.
Read Dangerously by Azar Nafisi
Reading isn’t just a joy. It’s a political act. In Read Dangerously, Azar Nafisi explores the role of literature in an era where one political party is banning books at record rates. Structured as a series of letters to her father, the author examines the political power of literature from authors such as Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood, and more. Yes, we can fight back through literature. And this book takes a look at how.
Looking for more book recommendations, book lovers? Here are some lists of books about books we’ve put together in the past: 10 Books About Books for Serious Bibliophiles and 8 of the Best Books About Books.