Books

Top 5 books on reading books - as chosen by Chris Paling

Why are books important? Let the author of Reading Allowed: True Stories and Curious Incidents from a Provincial Library remind you.

THE LIBRARY AT NIGHT
Alberto Manguel

The essayist and translator ruminates on our attempts to counter the dearth of meaning in the universe by collecting “whatever scraps of information we can gather in scrolls and books and computer chips, on shelf after library shelf.”

AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Andrew Carnegie

Despite Carnegie’s huge investments in libraries across the world, you’ll struggle to find his life story. Borrow a copy from the local library if you still have one. 

HITLER’S PRIVATE LIBRARY
Timothy W Ryback

The Nazi’s list of authors recommended for burning included HG Wells, Freud and Proust, but at his death Hitler owned an estimated 16,000 books. Some are preserved in the Library of Congress, others occasionally turn up. Some time ago a copy of Peter Maag’s Realm of God from 1915 was discovered in a 50 cent bin in a library sale. Scrawled on the title page was ‘A. Hitler’.

WHERE I’M READING FROM
Tim Parks

A collection of essays on book-related subjects. Always illuminating. If you’ve ever struggled with “why finish a book?” Parks offers a solution.

THE SHADOW OF THE WIND
Carlos Ruiz Zafon

A boy searches through post-war Barcelona for an author whose book he has discovered in the “cemetery of lost books”. His is the last copy, but why has a mysterious figure dedicated his life to eradicating the back catalogue of the author? Split the critics but is a world bestseller.  

 Reading Allowed by Chris Paling is out now on paperback (Constable, £9.99)

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