Phantoms on the Bookshelves

Phantoms on the Bookshelves

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781468301854
  • 144 Pages
  • Overlook Books
  • Adult


The enthralling memoir on the art of living with books Phantoms on the Bookshelves considers how our personal libraries reveal our true natures: far more than merely crowded shelves, they are living labyrinths of our innermost feelings. The author, a lifelong accumulator of books ancient and modern, lives in a house large enough to accommodate his many thousands of volumes, as well as overspill from the libraries of his friends. While his musings on the habits of collectors from the earliest known libraries are learned, amusing, and instructive, his advice on cataloguing may even save lives. Phantoms on the Bookshelves ranges from classical Greece to contemporary Iceland, from Balzac to Moby-Dick and Google. Rich in wit and wisdom, it will be a lasting delight for all who treasure books.


"This is a charming book full of erudition and wit, and is very nicely translated." — John Sutherland, Literary Review

"Part cataloging manual, part homage to books, adventure story and autobiography, this Borgesian account is a promise of happiness." — Jerome Garcin, Nouvel Observateur

"This charming volume illustrates the intensely symbiotic relationship between reader and writer, a book and its recipients." — Publishers Weekly

"The book’s ideal readers will be those who share Bonnet’s love of being surrounded by the evidence of their minds’ journeys, insatiable readers who love to linger over large and quirky accumulations of the printed word. For those readers, highly recommended." — Library Journal

"In Phantoms on the Bookshelves, Jacques Bonnet has once again invested the humble reading copy, the mode through which we first read, experienced, and encountered our favorite books and writers, with the old affection, respect and awe we had for it." — The Hindu