The best books about people obsessed by books

Dan Fesperman Author Of The Double Game
By Dan Fesperman

Who am I?

Dan Fesperman has made a living by writing about dangerous and unseemly people and places since his days as a journalist, when he was a foreign correspondent for The Baltimore Sun. Now traveling on his own dime, his books draw upon his experiences in dozens of countries and three war zones. His novels have won two Dagger awards in the UK and the Dashiell Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers. His thirteenth novel, Winter Work, will be published in July by Knopf. He lives in Baltimore.

I wrote...

The Double Game

By Dan Fesperman,

Book cover of The Double Game

What is my book about?

The Double Game is a spy novel, but it's also about the power of books, and their enduring hold on our imaginations. The main character, Bill Cage, grew up in the shadow of the Cold War, coming of age as a foreign service brat whose father moved them from city to city -- Berlin, Prague, Budapest and Vienna. He learned about these new homes partly by reading his dad's vast collection of spy novels.

Years later, as an up-and-coming journalist, Cage interviews his favorite author, spy-turned-novelist Edwin Lemaster, who reveals that while working for the CIA in those same cities that he'd briefly considered spying for the enemy. The story creates a brief stir, but more than two decades later Cage receives an anonymous note hinting that he should have dug deeper. 

The books I picked & why

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The Club Dumas

By Arturo Perez-Reverte,

Book cover of The Club Dumas

Why this book?

What's not to like when the main character is a self-styled "book detective" making his way through the hidden passages and darker alleys of the world of rare antiquarian books? Lucas Corso seeks to authenticate an old manuscript by Alexander Dumas, but his quest takes an eerie turn as the events and characters he encounters along the way begin to replicate those found in Dumas's fiction. This delightful 1993 novel was meta before meta was cool, and is deeply rewarding for any bibliophile.

The Library Book

By Susan Orlean,

Book cover of The Library Book

Why this book?

Part memoir, part history, and part true crime story, this non-fiction gem is the author's love letter to the public library -- as a concept, as a gathering place, and as a priceless repository for books and knowledge. She builds her tale around the 1986 arson fire that burned down the Los Angeles Public Library, and the library's subsequent rebuilding and renaissance.


By A.S. Byatt,

Book cover of Possession

Why this book?

One of my favorite novels of any type or genre, this book gives us the story of two lonely and obsessive literary scholars, would-be competitors whose lives and work intertwine as they pursue the long-buried secrets of what they suspect may have been a forbidden love affair between two Victorian poets, more than a century earlier. Rich in wit, style and intellectual pleasures, this winner of the 1990 Booker Prize will keep you turning the pages even as it dazzles with its knowledge and depth.

The Uncommon Reader: A Novella

By Alan Bennett,

Book cover of The Uncommon Reader: A Novella

Why this book?

Bennett offers a cheeky take on the power of reading with this whimsical but keenly observed novel in which Queen Elizabeth, while searching for a wayward corgi, stumbles upon a bookmobile parked outside Buckingham Palace. To be royally polite she checks out a novel, begins reading it later, and soon finds herself craving another. This quickly leads to a reading habit bordering on obsession, as the world inside her mind begins to broaden more than she could have imagined.

The Name of the Rose

By Umberto Eco,

Book cover of The Name of the Rose

Why this book?

As rich, dense, and dark as a chocolate fudge layer cake, this is a novel to luxuriate in. With great precision and grim historical detail, Eco escorts you into the heart of a murderous medieval conspiracy involving the printing, reading, hoarding, and control of books and manuscripts at a 14th-century Benedictine abbey, in an era when some of the world's most enticing knowledge was jealously kept under wraps, making it dangerous enough to kill for.

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