The best books about rare books

Who picked these books? Meet our 5 experts.

5 authors created a book list connected to rare books, and here are their favorite rare book books.
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By Susan Wittig Albert,

Book cover of Hemlock

L.M. Jorden Author Of Belladonna

From the list on mysteries with poison plants to please a gardener.

Who am I?

As the author of the Dr. Josephine Plantae Paradoxes, a historical mystery series based on my grandmother, an early trailblazing woman doctor, I stay true to the facts. I remember entering her apothecary filled with strange bottles of little homeopathic white pills, giant stills, and finding poisonous plants in her atrium. In my novels, Dr. Josephine Reva fights for woman’s equality and practices a mix of botanical and modern medicine, and moonlights as a sleuth to solve paradoxical ‘poison cure’ crimes. An award-winning journalist, author, and former professor with an MS from Columbia University, I studied botany. I currently live between France and New England with my family, furry friends, and lots of plants.

L.M.'s book list on mysteries with poison plants to please a gardener

Discover why each book is one of L.M.'s favorite books.

Why did L.M. love this book?

Hemlock contains much information about this poisonous botanical, famous for killing Socrates.

The mystery revolves around the disappearance of a rare and valuable volume of A Curious Herbal by the botanist Elizabeth Blackwell.

There’s a novel within a novel framework, and the second novel concerns the difficult life of Mrs. Blackwell as she attempts to save her family from debtor’s prison by publishing her botanical treatise.

Interestingly, Sussan Wittig Albert is a successful self-published author, and very original. Hemlock is sure to please for its exciting dual-arc stories, both concerning poisonous plants.

By Susan Wittig Albert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hemlock as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Susan Wittig Albert, the New York Times bestselling author of A Plain Vanilla Murder, comes a tightly crafted novel that juxtaposes the disappearance of a rare, remarkably illustrated 18th-century herbal with the true and all-too-human story of its gifted creator, Elizabeth Blackwell.

Herbalist China Bayles' latest adventure takes her to the mountains of North Carolina, where her friend Dorothea Harper serves as the director and curator of the Hemlock House Library, a priceless collection of rare gardening books housed in a haunted mountainside mansion that once belonged to Sunny Carswell, a reclusive heiress. But the most valuable book-A Curious…

Book cover of The Lions Of Fifth Avenue

Jennifer Wilck Author Of A Reckless Heart

From the list on making you laugh, cry, and escape this crazy world.

Who am I?

I’ve always had a passion for wounded heroes and strong heroines. My earliest memories are reading books where the heroine saves the day. I’ve never wanted the heroine to need the hero in order to make her life complete. Even as a child, when my dad read me books at night—one of my favorite memories—I preferred stories where the heroine saved the day. As an adult, I’ve loved to read stories where the hero is brave enough to show his vulnerable side, and when I decided to become a writer, those were the books I wanted to write.

Jennifer's book list on making you laugh, cry, and escape this crazy world

Discover why each book is one of Jennifer's favorite books.

Why did Jennifer love this book?

I loved the dual time-line mystery. It features so many strong women who overcome their circumstances—even when they don’t realize they’re doing it—and the character development is superb. The New York Public Library comes alive, the mystery is twisty and not what it seems, and the characters are unique and memorable.

By Fiona Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lions Of Fifth Avenue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Good Morning America Book Club Pick and a New York Times bestseller!
“A page-turner for booklovers everywhere! . . . A story of family ties, their lost dreams, and the redemption that comes from discovering truth.”—Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of The Shoemaker's Wife 

In New York Times bestselling author Fiona Davis's latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

It's 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn't ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New…

Flora Illustrata

By Susan M. Fraser (editor), Vanessa Bezemer Sellers (editor),

Book cover of Flora Illustrata: Great Works from the Luesther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden

Chris Thorogood Author Of Weird Plants

From the list on to immerse you in plants.

Who am I?

My life has always been intertwined with plants. As a kid I would explore the old cemetery behind our back garden, where I would climb trees and swing from branches, pretending I was in the rainforest. I amassed quite a collection of natural history books too. I’d pore over them, memorise the names of the plants they contained, and copy the pictures, scribble them all down on paper; I think I always knew I would write and illustrate books myself one day. Today, as a botanist, I am fortunate to see beautiful plants in their natural habitats all around the world. I seek to capture the beauty I see in words. 

Chris' book list on to immerse you in plants

Discover why each book is one of Chris' favorite books.

Why did Chris love this book?

This is a satisfyingly large tome with sumptuous prints and illustrations from ancient texts, gardens, and herbals that spill out on every page and give it a sort of timelessness. Flicking through it now, the page that opened in front of me features a facsimile of a 1748 book, complete with foxing; it is so real I could reach out and touch it. This is something I’d put on top of the coffee table book pile and feel happier just to know it’s there, replete with its botanical treasure. 

By Susan M. Fraser (editor), Vanessa Bezemer Sellers (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flora Illustrata as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An exquisitely illustrated volume in celebration of the world's foremost library of botanical works

The renowned LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden counts among its holdings many of the most beautiful and pioneering botanical and horticultural works ever created. More than eight centuries of knowledge, from the twelfth century to the present, are represented in the library's collection of over one million items. In this sumptuously illustrated volume, international experts introduce us to some of the library's most fascinating works-exceedingly rare books, stunning botanical artworks, handwritten manuscripts, Renaissance herbals, nursery catalogs, explorers' notebooks, and more. The…

The Invisible Library

By Genevieve Cogman,

Book cover of The Invisible Library

D. Hale Rambo Author Of Between the Lines

From the list on women sleuths who use mind over might.

Who am I?

As an amateur sleuth, I’m always intrigued by the structure of mysteries and the characters who solve them. Every remarkable story has a mystery at its core. Tales where the whodunnit drives the tension are my favorite, though. I’ve dissected countless stories from Sherlock Holmes to Phryne Fisher, breaking them down until the books have literally fallen apart. Thank goodness for e-readers! I’ve found that my favorites revolve around the magical, the witty, and the vivacious women who know how to distract with words while they pull prints off your cup. Those are the sleuths I want to write about often–and wish I could have a cocktail with! 

D.'s book list on women sleuths who use mind over might

Discover why each book is one of D.'s favorite books.

Why did D. love this book?

I love libraries and books about books. What reader doesn’t? There are a lot of shenanigans and mysteries contained within this first in a series where librarians travel to other worlds to find books to add to the one true Library. There are werewolves, dragons, and the wittiest fae imaginable. And through them, all clever focused Irene consistently uses her smarts before she reacts to the conflict. Amid the chaos, she’s quick thinking which I love. You can’t trust just anyone to retrieve a good book and she makes it clear that a proper librarian is the universe's best option. 

By Genevieve Cogman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Invisible Library as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure—the first in the Invisible Library series!
One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen.
London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death…

Homicide in Hardcover

By Kate Carlisle,

Book cover of Homicide in Hardcover

Hannah Dennison Author Of Murder at Honeychurch Hall

From the list on murder and humor set in small communities.

Who am I?

My picks reflect my passion for the cozy mystery genre (which I write myself!) One of the reasons I love cozy mysteries is that justice always prevails. There is no violence, bad language, or sex on the page. The murders take place in a small town or community where everyone is known to everyone else. If you like Murder She Wrote and Midsomer Murders, you’ll enjoy this genre. 

Hannah's book list on murder and humor set in small communities

Discover why each book is one of Hannah's favorite books.

Why did Hannah love this book?

I love the adventures of bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright. There are 15 books in the series and each one features a well-known book as a backdrop that is integral to the plot. The plots are clever with a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. Most of all I enjoy the interaction of the characters – Brooklyn was brought up in a commune and was named after the bridge beneath which she was conceived … which says it all really!

By Kate Carlisle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Homicide in Hardcover as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book expert Brooklyn Wainwright discovers that murder is always a bestseller in the first novel in the New York Times bestselling Bibliophile Mystery series.

Brooklyn Wainwright is a skilled surgeon. Sure, her patients might smell like mold and have spines made of leather, but no ailing book is going to die on her watch. The same can’t be said of Abraham Karastovsky, Brooklyn’s friend and former employer. 
On the eve of a celebration for his latest book restoration, Brooklyn finds her mentor lying in a pool of his own blood. With his final breath Abraham leaves Brooklyn with a cryptic…