This week I’m sharing a post from last winter on one of my favorite topics: books about books. Happy reading!
Is there anything better than “books about books”? This is a genre I can’t get enough of. Turning the pages and spotting references to favorite books and authors, finding out the characters inhabit bookstores or libraries each day, and reading loads of dialogue between characters about the titles they love––heaven!
Here are 10 Bookish Reads for you and the little ones in your life. Happy reading!
1. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
If you are on the lookout for your next bookish read and have not yet picked up this gem of a book, place your library requests or bookstore orders immediately! This is a reading experience to be treasured. I grabbed this book and curled up on the couch with it anytime my daughter was asleep one rainy Saturday and alternated between laughing out loud, reaching for the tissues, and looking for another book dart to mark a passage I loved. A young toddler comes into the life of a thirty-something widower bookstore owner, changing the course of not only their “stories”, but also the entire community’s. Bookish references abound in this one and great reads are at the center of the characters’ lives. This book was also a wonderful fictional look at raising a reader. A.J. Fikry has certainly zoomed to the top of my list of recent favorites–highly recommended.
You can also check out this interview with the author, Gabrielle Zevin from NPR:
2. First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett
I got this book recommendation from a wonderful “Lifetime mother-daughter book club” episode of my favorite reading podcast, “What Should I Read Next” with Anne Bogel. (If you haven’t listened to this book recommendation podcast, this would be a great episode to start with. This book was recommended by the mother and daughter on the show sharing their favorite reads and getting book recommendations.) First Impressions is a bookish mystery for Jane Austen fans and Anglophiles, that alternates between Jane’s perspective and modern day Sophie Collingwood’s, a recent Oxford graduate about to take on the greatest literary puzzle she could imagine. Bonus–it will inspire you to re-read Pride and Prejudice.
3. The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
Little House on the Prairie fans, this is the book for you! Wendy McClure shares her account of immersing herself in the world of the series and embraces all things Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’m fascinated by how Wilder, like L.M. Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott blended the real stories of her upbringing and family life with fiction. Like Avonlea and Orchard House, the setting of the various Ingalls’ homesteads is also such a rich part of the story and McClure makes pilgrimages to them all–from the Big Woods of Wisconsin, to Plum Creek, and South Dakota. This is a delightful literary travel memoir and reflection on the series. For a more scholarly look at the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder and reality versus fiction in her work, you can also check out Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser.
4. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
If you’re a fan of Liane Moriarty or Jojo Moyes and haven’t picked up a Taylor Jenkins Reid book, I highly recommend this author. She writes smart, tug-at-your-heartstrings women’s fiction that is impossible to set down. In One True Loves, Emma Blair has spent her twenties with her high school sweetheart Jesse, traveling the world and having adventures far from their small Massachusetts hometown. After being married for only a year, tragedy strikes and Jesse’s helicopter crashes somewhere over the Pacific. Emma moves back home to rebuild her life and takes over her parents’ bookstore. After several years, she falls in love again with Sam, an old friend, and becomes engaged. When Jesse is found alive, Emma’s world is turn upside down. Keep the tissues handy as you’ll be as torn as Emma about how to choose between the husband she lost and the fiancé she has built a life with. This book also dives into Emma’s complicated relationship with her family as well as the world of the bookstore, which she rebelled against growing up.
5. The Losers Club by Andrew Clements
The wonderful Andrew Clements has done it again with another funny, relatable, middle-grade school story–and in this one, he celebrates being bookish! This has taken the top spot as my new favorite Clements book and was a hit when I helped choose it as the 4th and 5th grade parent/child book club pick at my school. Alec is a lifelong bookworm who is actually constantly being sent to the principal’s office for reading too much at school. (Which breaks my librarian heart!) In the after-school program, he’s forced to sign up for a club, but he just wants to spend his time reading. His solution–call the club “The Losers Club” and hope no one else wants to join so he can read in peace. When things don’t exactly go according to plan, Alec makes some interesting discoveries about himself and the people around him. Clements weaves in a stellar book title every few pages and even includes a full list of books read by Alec and his classmates at the end of the story –the young readers in your life will devour this title.
6. Another Day as Emily by Eileen Spinelli
This is a quick read that completely warmed my heart. I read it in a few hours one afternoon and couldn’t wait to recommend it to students. Eleven-year-old Suzy researches Emily Dickinson as part of a summer program at the public library. When things don’t seem to be going her way, she decides to channel her inner Emily and live like a 19th-century recluse. Her experiment exasperates her parents and baffles her friends, but left me charmed. This book was in my reading pile because it’s part of this year’s Massachusetts Children’s Book Award program. 4th, 5th and 6th graders across the state are presented with 25 nominated books. If they read 5, they are eligible to vote for their favorite. Many states have reading programs for elementary kids, and the nominee lists are great places to seek out new books for the little ones in your life.
7. Our Story Begins: Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids, Edited by Elissa Brent Weissman
I flipped through this book gleefully as I saw how many author contributed, from the author of my childhood favorite Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine, to authors and illustrators of incredible contemporary titles like Wonder (R.J. Palacio), One Crazy Summer (Rita Williams-Garcia), Escape from Mr. Lemencello’s Library (Chris Grabenstein), and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Grace Lin). This is a fascinating look at the varying journeys of accomplished authors and illustrators–the childhood sketches, attempts at novels, and encouragement from teachers and parents that got them where they are today. A truly inspirational and entertaining read for kids and adults alike.
8. A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker
This delightful picture book makes kids of all ages laugh out loud. Bear is a bit of a curmudgeon and has all the books he could ever need (seven to be exact). Why would he possibly want to go to the library with Mouse? A sweet, funny tale about being open to trying new things and discovering your next favorite book at the library.
9. Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr
Why does reading make us happy? Is it being able to read the signs at the zoo? Or sharing a story with a friend? Todd Parr explores the many wonderful reasons why “Reading Makes You Feel Good”. A perfect book to share with the littlest readers in your life. I love to ask my K-2 students why they love to read after sharing this title. They always come up with adorable reasons!
10. The Library by Sarah Stewart
Elizabeth Brown was born a bookworm. Her piles of books are her constant companions. She even creates a check-out system for lending books out to friends when she is away at school. (I love that she conducts “midnight raids” to take overdue books back from classmates). When others are out socializing, she’s staying in content with her book. She also reads while grocery shopping and vacumming (if only she’d had access to audiobooks!). As she gets older and moves into a house of her own, the piles of books become towers until she eventually runs out of room. The solution? Create a public library for her town. This is a fun bookish read aloud for kids of all ages and certainly pleases us bookish introverts!