For the love: 4 novels

If you love books and reading, and especially if you cherish settling in with a well-written novel, the following four titles are for you. When cold winds bluster, nestle into your nest and dedicate yourself to these books about books – and about love. Embracing these novels as you burrow in your burrow, you will find narratives about booksellers, printers, and authors – and their individual passions, some inconstant and some enduring. I was enwrapped in these stories of ardor and loss, invention and devotion.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Jean Perdu sells books from his barge on the Seine, operating as a literary apothecary prescribing the titles most needed by his customers. Yet he cannot heal himself, being immobilized by the pain of a love long broken. This story takes off when Perdu unfreezes emotionally, suddenly starting a trip through France and finally beginning a journey through his own grief. On his travels, he meets with readers, authors and others seeking to cope with the sorrows and pleasures of love. He also gradually meets up with his own broken self. With grieving comes a return to living. This book understands anguish and encourages joy. It also comprehends loving books.

Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie 

Peter Schoeffer’s life takes a difficult turn when he is forced to become an apprentice to Johann Gutenberg in medieval Germany. Schoeffer believes in his work as a scribe, faithfully copying text by hand. Initially, he is devastated by Gutenberg’s secret ideas for movable type. Moreover, Gutenberg is as abrasive as he is inventive. Eventually, the two men do manage to combine their abilities and ideas to create something distinctly new, producing the first printed Bible in 1455. This work of historical fiction tells the entwined stories of Schoeffer and Gutenberg, illuminating the invention of the printing press in Europe. The novel delivers compelling characters, and it delves into the links between devotion and invention. Author Alix Christie, who learned the printing craft herself as an apprentice to two master printers, skillfully elucidates process and history. Anyone who loves the difficult, beautiful work of printing will appreciate her accomplishment.

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg 

Aurore Dupin wants more from her life. Thus, she moves to Paris, leaving behind her husband, two children and family estate. It’s a particularly bold move in the 19th century, and this novel explores her ensuing suffering, as well as her successes and passions. Dupin renames herself George Sand and flourishes as a writer and author. She also becomes friends and lovers with a variety of notable artists, including the composer Frederic Chopin and the actress Marie Dorval. Using a first-person voice, this work of historical fiction imagines how this brilliant, defiant woman uniquely composed her identity and her life, as well as her written works. Readers who are intrigued by authors will take pleasure in this interesting depiction of a complex individual.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld 

Darcy Patel wants more from her life as a writer, so she moves alone to New York to focus on revising her first novel and writing its sequel. It’s an unflinching move given that the 18-year-old could have spent her advance publication money to fund her college education. Chapters about Darcy’s experiences alternate with chapters taken from her drafted novel, which tells the story of Lizzie, a teen who survives a terrorist attack. The two stories come together thematically in interesting ways, even as they are separated visually with ink: Lizzie’s chapters appear with black ink at the top and bottom of the white page. At its core, this book is about writing and creating, connecting and belonging. Author Scott Westerfeld dedicates his novel to “all you wordsmiths, you scribblers…for making writing a part of your reading.” Readers interested in writing will find much to enjoy in this well-crafted work, even if they are not frequent visitors to the YA section.

Winter calls for us to slow down and curl up. Answer the call by slowly reading one of these books, allowing yourself to appreciate time, shelter, and your own love for books.