The best books with books as characters

Who am I?

I am a bibliophile. I love words, books, librarians, and independent bookstores. Both my novels describe the reading life of my main characters. To hold a book in my own hands generates an excited anticipation that both challenges and comforts me. So when I am reading a novel with a book within it as a character I double my reading fun! Like many readers, I fell in love with reading when I was very young and remember the smell of the modest musty library that my father used to take me to when I was knee-high to a grasshopper.  So many little time!

I wrote...

Seven Locks

By Christine Wade,

Book cover of Seven Locks

What is my book about?

A farmer disappears without a trace, abandoning his wife and children in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains on the eve of the American war for independence. The local villagers believe that the farmer’s wife, who has the reputation of being a scold, has driven her husband away, but a darker version of an iconic American folktale unfolds. “The future is a book with seven locks,” a mother tells her daughter, quoting a Dutch Proverb, as she undertakes desperate journeys and ambitious explorations of secrets to ensure a family’s survival.  Kirkus review called Seven Locks...a spellbinding depiction of the hardships faced by a woman fighting her own war of independence.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Cloud Cuckoo Land

Christine Wade Why did I love this book?

This is a time-travelling collection of tales braided through fragments of a Greek work of speculative fiction contrived so very long ago. I identified with all the book-loving characters from Constantinople in 1453 to small-town Idaho in the late twentieth century, to those seeking a future in outer space. I loved the fantasy and the adventure as well as the character's commitments to the magic and wisdom of written words, as well as to the translators who expand them and the librarians who conserve them.

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Cloud Cuckoo Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the New York Times bestseller list for over 20 weeks * A New York Times Notable Book * A National Book Award Finalist * Named a Best Book of the Year by Fresh Air, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Associated Press, and many more

“If you’re looking for a superb novel, look no further.” —The Washington Post

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of All the Light We Cannot See, comes the instant New York Times bestseller that is a “wildly inventive, a humane and uplifting book for adults that’s infused with the magic of childhood reading experiences” (The New York Times…

Book cover of The Liar's Dictionary

Christine Wade Why did I love this book?

This book is the story of etymology: words and the mystery of their origin and utilization by writers and speakers. And of course, the story of the books that officially collect and define them. I made a list of new words, arcane and whimsical. It was amusing to guess which were legitimate usage and which were contrived to aid the narrator’s search for what is true and real. Wordplay is the name of the game. Obsessive main characters with a supporting cast of a lackadaisical cat and oddly motivated associates of the dictionary compilation project amused me up until the surprise ending. 

By Eley Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Liar's Dictionary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Made me almost tearful with gratitude that a book as clever as this could give such uncomplicated pleasure ... And when you find a book like this, you grab it, and you hold it close.' JOHN SELF

'A delight ... As funny and vivid as Dickens, as moving and memorable as Nabokov ... An extraordinarily large-hearted work.' THE CRITIC

Picked as a 'Book of the Year' in the Guardian
mountweazel, noun: a fake entry deliberately inserted into a dictionary or work of reference. Often used as a safeguard against copyright infringement.

In the final year of the nineteenth century,…

Book cover of The Book of Form and Emptiness

Christine Wade Why did I love this book?

The Book of Form & Emptiness actually speaks aloud, explaining life’s conundrums, asking existential questions, and dispensing advice. It is a book (as in my fourth and fifth picks), that comforts a young bereft narrator who has endured unspeakable loss. Narrators I almost always fall for are young readers that find books to be a life-saving solace. Benny is one such teller of tales who finds a refuge at the library where he can hear books speak aloud, soothing him as his world spins out of control and he fears losing his somewhat peculiar mind.

By Ruth Ozeki,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Book of Form and Emptiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"No one writes like Ruth Ozeki-a triumph." -Matt Haig, New York Times bestselling author of The Midnight Library

"Inventive, vivid, and propelled by a sense of wonder." -TIME

"If you've lost your way with fiction over the last year or two, let The Book of Form and Emptiness light your way home." -David Mitchell, Booker Prize-finalist author of Cloud Atlas

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

A boy who hears the voices of objects all around him; a mother drowning in her possessions; and a Book that might hold the secret to saving them both-the brilliantly inventive new novel…

Book cover of The Shadow of the Wind

Christine Wade Why did I love this book?

The book begins with an introduction to the book of the title to a young boy who can no longer remember his mother’s face. His father takes him to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books as a consolation. He then becomes absorbed in the mysterious fates of both the book and its author, and then falls in love with a blind girl. Set in post-war Barcelona it is a romp with a cast of charming and eccentric characters whose chatter and wisdom often made me laugh out loud.

By Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves (translator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Shadow of the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller

"The Shadow of the Wind is ultimately a love letter to literature, intended for readers as passionate about storytelling as its young hero." -Entertainment Weekly (Editor's Choice)

"One gorgeous read." -Stephen King

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been…

Book cover of The Book Thief

Christine Wade Why did I love this book?

This is a story of a young girl who is saved from the horror of her historical circumstance by an unlikely read of The Grave Digger’s Handbook. What book could be a greater teacher to a young lonely girl who braves dislocation and danger at the hands of the Third Reich just as she is coming of age. She becomes such a bibliophile that she steals books as she can and book lovers like you and me are entirely sympathetic to her teenage impulses, as she lives at a crucial moment when for some the only safety is found between two book covers.

By Markus Zusak,

Why should I read it?

28 authors picked The Book Thief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

'Life affirming, triumphant and tragic . . . masterfully told. . . but also a wonderful page-turner' Guardian
'Brilliant and hugely ambitious' New York Times
'Extraordinary' Telegraph


1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.


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The Finest Lies

By David J. Naiman,

Book cover of The Finest Lies

David J. Naiman Author Of The Finest Lies

New book alert!

Who am I?

Anyone with siblings knows the deal. Your sibling becomes your first best friend and closest confidant but also your first competitor and fiercest critic. Navigating that relationship as a teen is fraught with peril. If done poorly, it can leave deep scars. If successful, it can teach you the foundations of how to build healthy relationships for the rest of your life. This theme has everything a writer needs to craft an emotional narrative, and these books do it best.

David's book list on sibling rivalry that will inspire you to reconnect

What is my book about?

A mysterious stranger traps teen siblings in a precarious game where each must overcome their embittered past for the other to survive.

This suspenseful, yet winsome novel explores the power of family and forgiveness. But take heed. The truth can cut like shards of glass, especially for those who’d rather avoid it. Sometimes, only the finest lies will do.

The Finest Lies

By David J. Naiman,

What is this book about?

High schooler Nicole Hallett has just about had it with her brother Jay, so when a mysterious man appears with an offer to replace him with a better one, she doesn’t hesitate. Nicole has always been impulsive, but this time, she finds herself in predicament far worse than anything she’s experienced. Just like that, an average snow day—usually filled with hot cocoa and snowball fights—is commandeered by the stranger, who forces the siblings into a dangerous game.

Confronted by past reflections, tested by present complications, and threatened by future possibilities, Nicole has until the end of the day to disentangle…

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