Book Review: The House of Paper

“One day in the spring of 1998, Bluma Lennon bought a secondhand copy of Emily Dickinson’s poems in a bookshop in Soho, and as she reached the second poem on the first street corner, she was knocked down by a car”.

I love powerful opening sentences and this one certain packs a punch. Bluma Lennon, a lecturer of Latin American literature at Cambridge dies after being ran over while reading and walking (guilty! I used to that so often in my 20s). Months later a package arrives from Uruguay with a book covered in cement. Lennon’s replacement, an Argentinian lecturer himself looking to replace her, travels to Uruguay to return it to its sender and comes across a very mysterious story.

It is a very charming book, appealing to book lovers. It talks about book collectors, avid readers, organizing shelves, dog earring books or bookmarking, writing on the margins or journaling; reading for escaping or for learning; book-buying obsession and book buying bans. In a world pre-bookstagram, it seems to cover all bases, even discussing the controversial practice of using books as props, to build furniture and even pairing books with music. Don’t expect much plot-wise or character development (I thought everyone was pretty bland) but it doesn’t make one wonder about how far we are to take this book obsession of ours.

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