A few more books about books to prolong your enjoyment of the current community read.
The 2015 One Book One Community program began October 1. Programming continues through October 20. Our 10th anniversary selection is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Print and audio copies of this book can be checked out of your library, inter-loaned from other libraries or purchased at local bookstores.
The beautifully illustrated History of the Book in 100 Books by Roderick Cave and Sara Ayad traces book technology from Egyptian times to the e-book. Readers discover that the history of the book and the printed word has undergone constant change since the first inscriptions made on cave walls. The author and visual artist have chosen 100 works from around the world to explain the role each has played in the development of books and writing and the expansion of literacy and knowledge. They start with cave paintings from 16,000 BCE, move through Apicus, "the earliest serious cookbook surviving," that was transcribed in Germany in 830 CE, and conclude with e-books (which are thought, by many, to have been prototyped by a school teacher in Spain in 1949), manga, and crowd- (and cloud-) sourced fiction.
Sitting on a milk crate in her grandfather’s butcher shop, reading voraciously, Cara Nicoletti realized how good books and good food make people happy. In Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks her way Through Great Books, readers are introduced to Nicoletti and her family, her reflections on a number of classic works and fifty recipes inspired by her favorite stories. Try brown butter crepes (Gone Girl) for breakfast, clam chowder (Moby-Dick, of course) for lunch, and gingerbread cake with blood orange syrup for an evening snack (Hansel and Gretel). All are charmingly presented by this essayist who is also a butcher and a cook.
Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie is so enthralling that my husband and I listened to it during two car trips downstate this summer. The characters, the demanding efforts of the printers, and 15th-century Mainz society are so well depicted in this work of historical fiction that we felt we were in Gutenberg’s workshop, watching eagerly as a font was designed, molded and poured, as lines and pages of text were meticulously laid out, as page after page of Gutenberg’s Bible was finished in a race against church greed, jealous guilds, Elder politics, superstition, plague and the fall of Constantinople. (It’s a long book.) The story is anchored by Peter Schoeffer whose foster father, Johann Fust, apprenticed the young Paris scribe to the demanding Gutenberg to be his eyes in the workshop which he supported financially and to hurry along the evolving technology which Fust believed would revolutionize the publishing world.
Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair is a fun, jumbled, comic, fantasy, mystery tied in with time travel and romance. Set in a 1985 alternative England where people take their literature very seriously, Special Operative literary agent Thursday Next sets out to thwart the evil schemes of Acheron Hades, the world’s third most wanted villain. Hades steals a prose portal device that allows people to enter works of literature and begins kidnapping characters from their books. After Jane Eyre is taken, Thursday is assisted by Mr. Rochester in recovering Jane, catching Hades, destroying the portal and providing a satisfying end to the story.
Simon Watson is a librarian who lives alone in the family’s crumbling house above Long Island Sound. An antiquarian bookseller finds Simon’s grandmother’s name inside an old log kept by the owner of an 18th-century traveling circus and sends him the diary. Inside the log may be the clues Simon needs to solve the family curse. The women in his family, including his mother, were excellent swimmers and circus mermaids who all drown on July 24. Simon fears for his sister Enola, who returns home in June after running away to join a traveling show. Simon’s story alternates with those of the members of the 18th-centry troupe in Erika Swyler’s Book of Speculation.
Moored on the Seine, we discover Monsieur Perdu, the literary apothecary who runs a floating bookstore on a barge in Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop. Perdu dispenses books that mend the hearts and souls of his customers. Perdu’s own heart, however, remains broken ever since Manon, the love of his life, abruptly disappeared 21 years ago. Perdu has steadfastly refused to read the letter Manon mailed shortly after her departure. When empty-handed Catherine moves into his apartment building she finds the letter in the drawer of a table Perdu gives her. At Catherine’s urging Perdu reads Manon’s letter then pulls up anchor to travel upriver to the south of France hoping to find forgiveness and healing. Perdu is joined on his journey by Max, a young author running away from his fame, a woman they save when she falls in to the stormy river, and an Italian chef searching for his long-lost love.
--Cathy Seblonka, Collection Development/Reference Librarian