The City of Dreaming Books - Walter Moers, John Brownjohn

The moment I opened this book (and yes I know I say this a lot) I knew that I would love this book from the first page.

My dear readers, did you, like me, never want this book to end? I wanted it to be longer. I savored it, took my time...but at the same time, I was reading pages whenever I had the chance. Literally in the bathroom, during dinner--I'd read into the night until my eyes got sore and even then, the book nagged at me from my bedside tables in my dreams. "Read me, read me!" it cried until I would give in, light a candle and become a night owl once more.

You may ask, what would compel me to do such a thing? Let me fangasm for a moment, if you please. *OMGZZZ THIS BOOK IS SO AWESOME LIKE YEAHHHH I JUST WANT TO LIVE IN IT FOREVER AND EVER AND EVERRRR!" Ok. Now that that's out of my system, let me give my explanation as to why this kooky book is so very wonderful.

Moers writing is so detailed and creative that he invokes emotions, senses. When Optimus Yarnspinner entered Bookholm for the first time, I was in awe. I could smell, at least in my imagination, a place I've only dreamed of: a place dedicated to BOOKS. I smelt leather and paper and ink...As a bibliophile, you can imagine how happy this made me--this book was written for people like me in my mind. I've always loved books about books, but this takes everything and blows it out of the water. Even Inkheart.
A part of me ached because Bookholm doesn't and will never exist, except on a page, and another part was telling myself that I could visit this book time and time again and be enraptured.

This is how I imagine I'd react in Bookholm:

I'm having a hard time figuring out how to get across my feelings about this book. I love all the small details and the world building, all the quirky anagrams which were fun to figure out in my head, and the interesting Zamonian book titles, the creatures and the food. I felt like I was in the tavern with Optimus, wincing as he accidentally got a bad sting from Beebread. {watch out for that by the way!} The Poets Ringlet sounds most delicious to me or the book shaped pastry with apple filling and pistachios. I loved all the footnotes and the backstories of Zamonian history, or even Optimus's little asides about a memory and such. I think one of my favorite parts was when I read about Regenschein and his adventures in the catacombs. I swear that in reading that passage, I could hear The Shadow Kings rustling papers behind me, his ink breath on the back of my neck. Another part I enjoyed was towards the end, about the history behind Zamonian horror literature. (pgs. 318-322 in my edition) There are so many passages that I want to memorize, just for the sheer delight. There were so many that felt special to me, but especially this one on pg. 81 of my edition: "Books, books, books, books. Old books, new books, expensive books, cheap books, books in shop windows or bookcases, in sacks or on handcarts, in random heaps or neatly arrayed behind glass. Books in precarious tottering piles, book parcelled up with string ("Try your luck --- buy your surprise package!), books displayed on marble pillars or locked away behind grilles in dark wooden cabinets ('Signed first editions--don't touch!). Books bound in leather and linen, hide or silk, books with clasps of copper or iron, silver or gold--even in one or two shop windows, books studded all over with diamonds." My bibliophilic brain went dizzy with the images I conjured up in my owlie head.

The illustrations make the book come even more alive and the writing is wonderful, have I mentioned that? There was never a point where I wanted to stop or I felt it slowed down, I felt as if every word was placed perfectly in the story--beautiful sentences complimented each other in wit and vivid imagery. and god help anyone who interrupted me. I was irritated whenever my stomach growled or I had to use the bathroom. I wanted to yell at my body and say "Can't you see I'm trying to read!?"

This is a fun charming and gorgeous read for bookish adults who still dream of mountains of old books in a far off fantasy land. I was obsessed with this book to the point where I would be at the edge of armchair, going through a range of emotions just as how most people did reading the manuscript given to Optimus. I giggled with sheer happiness at all the passages describing ancient book lore and the shops, and the stories of the catacombs--I laughed at a lot of things--I bit my lip and nail in fear for Optimus's safety, and shed a tear when it was done, considering picking it up again because I felt as if I had just lost something. I can't say exactly what, but I knew I'd miss the whimsy and the adventure. I had an Oz moment and I wanted to turn to the Booklings and say: "I'll miss you most of all!" The ending with the Booklings made me tear up a little, I must say.

Even though I'll miss this book and I certainly never wanted to stop and start other books, I'm glad I have finished such a wonderful story. Many other stories are waiting on my shelves for me, so this one will be put up in a place all its own and rest for a good while--but I know like a good old friend, it will always be there to welcome me back into its pages.

PS--Beware of Hazardous Books and Animatomes! (or the hybrids)