#BookReview THE SECRET LIFE OF BOOKS by TOM MOLE #20BooksOfSummer20


We love books. We take them to bed with us. They weigh down our suitcases when we go on holiday. We display them on our bookshelves or store them in our attics. We give them as gifts. We write our names in them. We take them for granted. And all the time, our books are leading a double life.

The Secret Life of Books is about everything that isn’t just the words. It’s about how books transform us as individuals. It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time. And it’s about why, even with the arrival of other media, books still have the power to change our lives.

In this illuminating account, Tom Mole looks at everything from binding innovations to binding errors, to books defaced by lovers, to those imprisoning professors in their offices, to books in art, to burned books, to the books that create nations, to those we’ll leave behind.
It will change how you think about books.

A real treasure trove for book lovers’ – Alexander McCall Smith

‘Every sentence is utterly captivating . . . probably the most compulsive text ever penned about what it means to handle and possess a book’ – Christopher de Hamel, author of Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts

‘Wonderfully insightful’ – Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading

‘Tom Mole’s enthusiasm for books is infectious. If you also love books . . . you’ll want to discover The Secret Life of Books’ – Sam Jordison, author of Literary London

‘A treat for bibliophiles everywhere’ – Gavin Francis, author of Shapeshifters

‘A treasure-chest, filled with bookish wonders’ – Adam Roberts, BSFA award-winning author of Jack Glass

‘I suspect I’ll never look at a book the same way again’ – Jon Courtenay Grimwood, author of Stamping Butterflies


This was book 4 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

This is the perfect book for any book lover! The obsession, the rituals, the art of collecting, the covers, the fonts – all the things that draw us to a book…. often for it to sit on our bookshelves unread for many a month/year!! And that’s why I found it to be the perfect read as I felt so connected to someone else who ‘got’ the book thing!

It features so many subjects that evolve from the world of reading – book snobbery, the impact books make on us as children, the history of a book – those messages you find written inside a book that hints of previous owners, and even how the wear and tear on a book can tell its’ own story of how a person treats a book.

It’s the simplicity of a book that I love so much – the fact that a bunch of words on a page can transport you elsewhere immediately – and how we often find ourselves making our mind up on a person based on their bookshelves! God forbid a house doesn’t have a bookcase nowadays!! How are we supposed to know what we think of someone?!!

There are also fascinating little breaks in the book to focus on artists who have featured books in their paintings and I really enjoyed the little diversion to see how books impacted other walks of life.

It also touches on the history of books and, more importantly, the future in this digital world. If I’m anything to go by, I buy more ‘real’ books now despite owning a Kindle, and I will always be grateful for having bookshelves and cases dotted around the house! And I’m glad this book is now part of my book collection!!



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