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Monday, October 26, 2020

Reading for Joy: Books About Books!

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For those of us lucky enough to be at home during this pandemic, the urge to break out and escape from isolation is very real. Fortunately, there’s a completely safe way to do this: by picking up a book! In a 2011 study, reading has been found to be an effective antidote to loneliness “providing a collective identity that is easily assumed and psychologically rewarding.”

Reading also need not be a solitary activity—many book clubs have popped up during the lockdown, book-focused social network Goodreads let us check up on what friends are reading, and engage in discussions with fellow book lovers.

As we’re all about spreading positivity here at Good Side News, we are happy to introduce “Reading for Joy”, a new series where we talk about our favorite feel-good reads. Each time, we’ll focus on a different theme, and provide our top recommendations.

For the first part of this series, we thought it best to put the spotlight on the ultimate feel-good hobby: what else, but reading! Here’s a list of our favorite books about books.

What We See When We Read

by Peter Mendelsund

Author Peter Mendelsund is many things: the associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf books; an award-winning book cover designer for authors such as Martin Amis and Stieg Larsson; a classically trained pianist; and, an avid reader. In this delightfully illustrated book, he takes us through what could possibly be going on inside our heads whenever we read.

He also explores many interesting aspects about the experience of reading: how reading is an act of performance for the reader, and one that they witness themselves; how our minds might make use of visuals from our own memories and project them into the story; and, amusingly, the displeasure of having the image of an actor in a movie adaptation override the character in our imagination.

The Smithsonian Book of Books

by Michael Olmert

Have you ever thought about how the book, as we know it today, came to be? The Smithsonian Book of Books has all the answers for you, told in this thick tome filled with over 300 illustrations. This book takes you through an in-depth history of books, from Egyptian papyrus scrolls to the invention of the printing press, and a rather dated but otherwise interesting overview of the electronic formats we consume today. It’s a must-read for any bibliophile and a great addition to your coffee table mini library.

A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books

by Nicholas A. Basbanes

Do you like collecting books, and feel bad because you might already have too many? Well, this book will invite you to think again.

A Gentle Madness is an engrossing read that covers the history of the book, and its obsessive devotees. Basbanes talks about the relentless passion of real-life bibliophiles in getting, buying, stealing, and in some cases, putting their lives on the line for that they want and love.

The stories are well-researched, but also highly entertaining. Beyond the neurotic history that is covered here, this book also sheds light on its positive role of book collecting in preserving important works and historical records. 

The Library at Night

by Alberto Manguel

The Library at Night will make any bibliophile feel seen and understood, as Manguel will show you that he knows exactly what it’s like to be enraptured by books. This book was born out of the author’s personal project to renovate his 15th century home in Loire, France, in order to create his own library. He explores the significance of libraries throughout history and organizes them into different chapters: The Library as Myth, The Library as Order, The Library as Power, The Library as Home, and so on.

If you’ve ever lost sleep obsessing over how your books should be arranged, stayed up until 6 AM with books you just can’t put down, then The Library at Night deserves a spot on your overflowing bookshelf.

Do you have any favorite books about books that weren’t included here? Feel free to drop us a word in the comments!

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