All libraries remain closed to the public until further notice. Library To Go service is available at selected libraries.


Reading By Design: Books About Books

Updated: December 10, 2020

There are many ways to select books to read. Some people are methodical and read all the books by one author; some read only certain types of books, and others like to browse. This is a selected list about books and reading that might make you want to stay home and read, read, read.

84, Charing Cross Road
Hanff, Helene.
Call Number: 085.442 H238

A play and a movie were based on this small book of letters between New York writer Helene Hanff and British bookseller Frank Doel. Helen Hanff's love of very specific books set her on an adventure to find the books she wanted to own. The time is post-World War II, and the only way to buy books was at local stores or by writing to booksellers. A tribute to the love of books and reading.

1,000 books to read before you die : a life-changing list
Mustich, James,
Call Number: 028.3 M991

If you don't know what to read, or think there is nothing left to read, then pick up this book (all 3.4 pounds of it), and be reawakened and refreshed to the joys of reading widely and deeply. The list includes fiction and non-fiction, arranged alphabetically by authors' last names. Mustich then adds a type of addendum, "A Miscellany of Special Lists". This book will make you want to live longer to read more.

Am I alone here? : notes on living to read and reading to live
Orner, Peter,
Call Number: 028.9 O74

Peter Orner's book is a collection of essays which inextricably meld books and life. Beautifully insightful, quirky and so very personal as he ruminates about his own life and the books which mattered. The subtitle sums it up: notes on living to read and reading to live. There is an excellent author and title index 

Book crush : for kids and teens : recommended reading for every mood, moment, and interest
Pearl, Nancy.
Call Number: 028.5 P359

If there are children or teens in your life, then consult this book. It is never too late for adults to revisit some old favorites, or learn about others they have never read.

The book that changed my life : 71 remarkable writers celebrate the books that matter most to them
Call Number: 028.3 B724

Roxanne J. Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison Connecticut, asked 71 writers, all of whom had appeared at the bookstore for public readings, to write one short essay about the importance and impression one book had made in their lives. Included is a reading list of the selected books, and Roxanne's Very Opinionated Reading List. This small book, with lots of surprises, was created to promote childhood literacy because all proceeds went to Read to Grow.

Books for living
Schwalbe, Will,
Call Number: LT 028.9 S398

Will Schwalbe is a dedicated, lifelong reader who celebrates the information and joy books can bring to everyone.  He analyzes specific books, why he has read them and what modern day problems they might address.


The books in my life.
Miller, Henry, 1891-1980.
Call Number: 809 M648

Best known for his irreverent writing, this collection of essays about reading and books by Henry Miller, about his favorite authors, will present another view of the writer.

Bound to please : an extraordinary one-volume literary education : essays on great writers and their books
Dirda, Michael.
Call Number: 028.3 D598

Michael Dirda, book critic for The Washington Post, takes off on a historical survey of his favorite books, beginning with old classics (not necessarily by old masters) up to modern writers, including a list of science fiction books that he likes.

By the book : writers on literature and the literary life from the New York Times Book Review
Call Number: 028.3 B9935

A selection of 65 interviews with writers, from the regular New York Times Book Review, all about their favorite books. These interviews are the uncut versions and interesting sidebars.

The end of your life book club
Schwalbe, Will.
Call Number: 616.994 S398

Will Schwalbe’s absorbing and heartfelt memoir recounts the last two years of his mother’s battle with cancer as they exchange and discuss a variety of books from contemporary fiction to classic literature. It speaks not only to the shared love of reading but how the discussion of literature is a language in and of itself that has the power to connect people to one another.

For the love of books : 115 celebrated writers on the books they love most
Call Number: 028.9 F6925 2000

Over one hundred writers were asked, "What books have left the greatest impressionon you, and why?" Their answers may surprise you.

A history of reading
Manguel, Alberto.
Call Number: 028.9 M277

Alberto Manguel set out to write a book about the history of reading, and in doing so he covers thousands of years of the very special engagement between the printed word and an individual reader.  An important form of communication that most of us take for granted.

How to think about the great ideas : from the great books of western civilization
Adler, Mortimer Jerome, 1902-2001.
Call Number: 814 A237-1

Mortimer Adler was a promoter of the Great Books program, which had the study of philosophy as its base. The focus is on the world of ideas in western civilization.

The lost library : gay fiction rediscovered
Call Number: 809 L8815

Remembrances of important older gay novels by 28 modern gay writers.

The new lifetime reading plan
Fadiman, Clifton, 1904-1999.
Call Number: 016 F145-1

This is based primarily on western civilization, but offers readers a guide to books from the ancient world to the modern.

Ten years in the tub
Hornby, Nick,
Call Number: 028.3 H814-1

Nick Hornby wrote a monthly column, "Stuff I've Been Reading," published in The Believer Magazine. This book covers September 2003 through June 2013; each section begins with two lists: Books Bought and Books Read. Yes, the man buys books and makes no apologies for doing so. Both serious and humorous, Hornby is a reassuring guide for those who have fallen out of the reading habit, or feel remiss for not having read certain classics.

Turkish Delight & Treasure Hunts: Delightful Treats and Games From Classic Children's Books
Brocket, Jane.
Call Number: x 790 B864

With recipes, games and activities from well-loved classic children's books, Jane Brocket will take you down memory lane. Some readers might want to revisit the joys of early childhood reading and pick up a few of the memorable books that are referenced. Many of them are chapter books.

The well-educated mind : a guide to the classical education you never had
Bauer, Susan Wise.
Call Number: 028.9 B344 2016

Susan Wise Bauer offers a modern-day version of the Great Books so that individuals can read and learn without attending formalized courses. She is an enabler who offers encouragement to slow readers; how to learn to critically analyze the printed word in whatever form; and how to find enjoyment in reading.

The Western canon : the books and school of the ages
Bloom, Harold.
Call Number: 809 B6547 1995

Harold Blooms's guide to the great books of western civilization, and why he thinks they are important.

When books went to war : the stories that helped us win World War II
Manning, Molly Guptill, 1980-
Call Number: 810.9 M284

During World War II the United States government, with the help of Librarians, sent over 120 million paperback books to serviceman in Europe. The books were loved and cherished, and many authors received fan letters from the troops.  There are two book lists; one is especially interesting, "Banned Authors," a small selection of writers whose books were banned in Germany and German-occupied countries during World War II.

Words are my matter : writings about life and books, 2000-2016 with a journal of a writer's week
Le Guin, Ursula K., 1929-
Call Number: 818 L521-4

Le Guin is a prolific writer, best known for science fiction, however her interests and writing ability are more wide-ranging: poetry, essays, children's books, book reviews, talks. This volume is a small compilation of her other writings, which reveal her bravery to express truth with clarity and wit.

The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe
Morgan, Ann (Ann Beatrice),
Call Number: 028.9 M847

Travel the world by reading its novels, poetry, folktales, and other written works. That is what British journalist Ann Morgan did after the 2012 Olympics came to London. In one year she read a book from each of the 196 independent countries of the world, and blogged her reading adventures in A Year of Reading the World. The blog continues today with more reading adventures.  This book has a fantastic bibliography arranged alphabetically by country.