What’s On the Bookshelf: 5 books about books
Pageturners that will take you on a tour of the literary world…
Book nerds unite – our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation have scanned high and low to bring you recommendations for books about books! Featuring writers, readers, librarians, dictionaries, publishers and secret book clubs, today’s listicle will have you flipping through pages on a whistle-stop tour of the literary world.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Andrew Sean Greer is a bestselling American novelist who won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for this book in 2018.
The story is named after the protagonist, Arthur Less, a failed novelist who is fast approaching the autumn of his life. He receives the wedding card of his former partner which results in an immediate ‘I need to be anywhere but the wedding reception’ attitude. His solution lies in a pile of invitations to literary events that he hasn’t yet responded to. As he embarks on a journey across the world, he finds he can overcome the challenge of his past relationship… by replacing them with a whole new set of problems.
The satirical writing style will leave readers smiling wryly and the character development will ensure that despite the book’s flaws, you will find yourself rooting for the character to find happiness and love.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murphy
Marie Benedict has written several historical fiction novels that recognize and celebrate stories of extraordinary women but this was her first co-written book. This Good Morning American Book Club pick, which was published last summer, is a fictionalized tale about illustrious American financier J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle de Costa Greene.
As a young woman, Greene was hired as a curator for the Pierpont Morgan Library. As a prominent member of the New York art and culture scene, she wielded great power. But she also harboured a deep secret. Her colouring is not due to her alleged Portuguese background but because her father is one of the first Black Ivy League graduates and renowned for his race advocacy. An amazing story about a phenomenal woman who scaled great heights on her own merit but had to hide her heritage to protect her family from a racist society.
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker
The date is August 30, 1975 when 15-year-old Nola Kellergan vanishes forever. Thirty-three years later, her secret paramour and one of the country’s most respected authors, Harry Quebert, stands accused of her murder. Quebert’s mentee, Marcus Goldman, also a successful writer, must push through his writer’s block to investigate the cold case and save Harry’s life and both their careers.
This crime thriller broke sales records and would make for an intensely enjoyable weekend read. If you can’t get enough of the mystery, you can pair it by watching the drama miniseries starring Patrick Dempsey (actor from the hit show Grey’s Anatomy).
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Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
This book was first published in 2020 but has come into the limelight again as it is Reese Witherspoon’s Helle Sunshine Book Club pick for this month. This historical fiction is one that is brilliantly researched and detailed. The heart of it lies in the importance of words and women finding their power in small ways in a male-centred world.
It may be a slow read, but Emirates Literature Foundation vouches for it being well written and enjoyable.
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen.
If you enjoyed today’s recommendations by Nivea Serrao, Website Content Manager at Emirates Literature Foundation, then you should read more of her work on their blog. Check out their bi-monthly podcast, the Boundless Book Club. And subscribe to their YouTube channel and follow them on social media to keep abreast of Festival news and Foundation initiatives.