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Bibliophile, An Illustrated Miscellany

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I was just about finished with a book review for the ClaytonPioneer when I went through hip replacement and my daughter, who had come to reverse roles, presented me with a book my son-in-law found for me at Booksmith in SF. It’s been a little more than a week, and I have tossed aside the first review for a shout-it-out, thumbs-up, you-have-to-get-this-book, review of Jane Mount’s fabulous Bibliophile, An Illustrated Miscellany.

Don’t be dissuaded by the title. Mount’s book is not for the collector or first edition aficionado, although serious collectors and those of us who still have room for one more book on a shelf or stack, will want this book. Bibliophile is a book for readers, for those wonderful people who love books, all kinds of books.

In Mount’s own words, “It’s a literary Wunderkammer, connecting you with books you might love for all kinds of reasons—because the subject speaks to you, because you found it through a great local library, or because there is a cute cat on the cover. Like a portable, beloved bookstore with aisles filled with passionate shelftalkers, this volume contains something for everyone who enters. Each time you open it, you’ll find another jewel you didn’t know you needed to find until that moment.”

Added to Mount’s own enthusiasm for her book, are her illustrations of covers for almost every book mentioned; along with drawings of authors, familiar and unfamiliar, bookstores you will want to see for yourselves, and ordinary people who have generously passed on their love for books to impoverished folks around the world. Her colorful illustrations are enchanting in their ability to tap a memory of the first time you read one of the books from the stacks of books on almost every page.

Mount’s range of interests is groundbreaking. Who knew we’d be thrilled to see the table where Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice? Or exactly what the heck are all those subdivisions of fiction, literary or otherwise, all about? Are you a foodie? A sci-fi fan? What about books on nature? On romance, history, mystery, and yes, even more?  She also has a few fun quizzes. But you are never meant to feel stupid because the answers (all listed numerically upside down) are on the same page (you can cheat!). There are pages of recommended books, recommended by librarians, booksellers, and authors.

Remember the little bottle down Lewis Carroll’s rabbit hole? The bottle that said, “Drink Me”? Well, that is what Jane Mount’s book is for readers. Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and buy this book. Before you make up your holiday gift-giving list, forget about buying your favorite reader a book by her or his favorite author; instead, don’t take my word for it, find the book and a chair to sit in, open it, and step into a world of magic. There is not a reader alive who will not sing your praises for the gift of Bibliophile, An Illustrated Miscellany.   –  Sunny Solomon

Also available by Jan Mount: My Ideal Bookshelf; The Martin Parr Coloring Book; Ideal Bookshelf Universal Puzzle, 1000 Pieces; Bibliophile Vase.

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