Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany - Jane Mount

Summary: This volume brims with bookish treasures, all delightfully illustrated by avowed bibliophile Jane Mount.  

Find your next great read in lovingly curated stacks of books! 

 Test your knowledge of the written word with quizzes!  

Sample the most famous fictional meals! 

Peek inside the workspaces of your favorite authors!  

Tour the world's most beautiful bookstores! 

And meet an adorable array of bookstore cats!  

Dive into this enchanting collection to fall in love with books over and over again.  

(Summary from back of book - Images from thriftbooks.com)

My Review:  Is your idea of interior decorating simply a matter of building enough bookshelves?  Are you constantly on the lookout for your next great read?  Do you think the smell of old books should be bottled and sold? If so, then Bibliophile is the book-lovers paradise you've been waiting to find. 

Bibliophile offers an exquisite blend of high-quality book recommendations, engaging artwork, and other occasionally quirky, always fascinating book-related content.  The author randomly cycles through the topics, rather than grouping them into sections, so that each turn of the page is exciting. I never knew exactly what was coming and I loved it.  It even has a thick, red, built-in bookmark, for picking up exactly where you left off, and is filled with the author's own colorful sketches of well-known book spines, book covers, famous libraries, bookstore fronts, and even bookstore cats.  Yes, cats. I think her artwork is simply mesmerizing and I'd quite happily stare at it for days.  The unanticipated benefit I found from spending a few days admiring the spines of these best-selling books is that it made them super recognizable.  After reading this book, I was in my local thrift shop and snagged FOUR books that I recognized from the shelf in a matter of minutes.  How cool is that?!  

My hands down favorite aspect of the book was how Mount's artwork seamlessly created a visual list of reading recommendations for specific genres with commentary and additional recommendations (see below).  

It has basic genres pages, like...

  • Historical Fiction
  • Mysteries
  • Short Stories
  • Poetry
  • Essays
  • Graphic Novels & Comics
  • Biographies & Autobiographies
  • Memoirs
  • Feminism
  • War
  • Dystopia
  • Southern Lit (British too!)
  • Love & Romance
  • History
  • Nature & Animals
  • Kid's Picture Books
  • ...and more

But also a gajillion* more specifically categorized genres, like these...

(my comments are in italics)

  • Formative Faves (those first books you read that really stick with you, seen above)
  • Girl Stars (books with female main characters)
  • Coming of Age (making it through those tough teen years)
  • Cult Classics (loved by some, hated by others)
  • Unhappy Families (these families are more messed up than yours)
  • Book Club Darlings (selections from Oprah, Emma, Reese, and more!)
  • Special Powers (these main characters have a little something extra)
  • Technothrills & Cyber Punks (futuristic and used-to-be-futuristic novels)
  • Space & Aliens (all the things that might be out there)
  • Us & the Universe (learn about the incredible world around and inside us)
  • A Sense of Place (novels that are set in far off locales)
  • Journeys & Adventures (adventure vicariously)
  • Regional Cooking (French, Indian, Mexican, and more...)
  • Reference Cookbooks (how to cook almost everything)
  • Everyday Food Inspiration (find your next great meal!)
  • Baking & Desserts (for all that quarantine-baking)
  • Food Writing (all the things for the food obsessed)
  • We're All Human (enjoy reading about other perspectives)
  • Finding Meaning (looking for a purpose?)
  • How to Write (want to be an author? This is your section!)
  • Creativity & the Pursuit of Happiness (how to create your best life!)
  • Sports (waaaay more than just stats!)
  • Innovation & Business (how to help you do what you do in the best way possible!)
  • Picture Books for Grown-Ups (they are making a comeback!)
  • ...and MORE!  (Seriously.  There are more.)
Each of the many genres listed above is presented as a gorgeously-drawn stack of highly-recommended books + another ten book recommendations (in actual list form) + even more genre-related book facts and author anecdotes.  Feel free to do the math.  I'll wait.  Answer: A LOT OF RECS.

And you know what?  

That isn't even all of them!  

In multiple sections called Bookish People Recommend, a collection of people who know books -- authors, librarians, booksellers, book buyers, and other book lovers -- talk about their favorite books alongside Mount's illustrations. Some of them I had read, many of them I hadn't.  I had a library copy and so I had to keep reminding myself that under no circumstances was I allowed to write in it, even though my fingers were itching to star, highlight and checkmark my way through it.  

I would give this book 5 stars on the artwork and book recommendations alone, but the author also  includes an assortment of other bookish treasures, scattered throughout: delightful little facts, historical anecdotes, bookstore fronts, author bios, fun quizzes, architecturally astounding libraries from around the world, and more.  I obsessed over the little free libraries and book-mobile pages and had a blast looking up the bookstores, libraries, and writer's rooms online so I could see if the sketches matched the photos (they did).  Wouldn't a worldwide tour of bookstores and libraries be divine?!

Long story short, Bibliophile is a a uniquely beautiful, unbelievably large, and insanely diverse catalogue of book recommendations.  In the intro, the author states that her objective was to triple my To-Be-Read pile. I'll admit, I thought that was a rather lofty goal, but she totally delivered.  Reading this book more than tripled my TBRs (by a lot) and even helped identify some gaps in my reading that I look forward to filling. Even though I have read Bibliophile from cover to cover, I still feel like I could read it a thousand more times and find something new. It is a passionate 'love letter' to all things book-related and the perfect gift for anyone who doesn't find that concept even remotely odd. 

*Okay, slight exaggeration.  But there are a lot.

My Rating:  5 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  There are a few instances of profanity - mostly in quote from from authors.

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