Behind the Book: Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

As mentioned in our Cozy Fall Book List, Markus Zusak, bestselling author of The Book Thief, is back after a 13-year break with Bridge of Clay an incredible, sweeping family saga. This is the kind of emotional, moving book you find yourself reading and re-reading. Zusak’s breathtaking story centers around the five Dunbar brothers, who are beholden to only themselves after the death of their mother and abandonment by their father. The brothers are living—fighting, loving and grieving—in the perfect chaos of a house without grown-ups. Then, the father who left them walks right back in with a surprising request: Who will build a bridge with him? It is Clay, a boy tormented by a long-buried secret, who accepts. But why is Clay so broken? And why must he fulfill this extraordinary challenge? Read on to discover Zusak’s thoughts on his triumphant return.


bridgeofclayHow do we sum up a decade of our lives going by, and all that happened in between? For me, the one thing that made things hardest over the last ten years is also what makes the answer to that question pretty easy: I poured a decade into Bridge of Clay.

I originally got the idea more than two decades ago; I was nineteen, or twenty. I stumbled over the thought of a boy building a bridge—but I had a lot of growing up to do, both as a person and a writer—before I was able to write it. I tried, of course. I even finished a version of Bridge of Clay that I didn’t send off to attempt publication. I was a long way from having anything published at that stage—but I knew even then that the version I’d written wasn’t the right one. . . I didn’t know it would be another twenty-three years before I’d get there. Continue reading

Books About Books Make Great Books

“In books I meet the dead as if they were alive,

In books we see what is yet to come…

All things decay and pass with time…

All fame would fall victim to oblivion

If God had not given mortal men the book to aid them.”

I believe the above quote from Richard de Bury adequately expresses the importance books play in our lives.  Books can teach us about civilizations long gone, as well as the world around us now, and they can inspire us with glimpses of what the future could be.  Some people believe that books are so important they have written books about them.  Here are 5 of my favorite books about books.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke — This book is about Meggie and her father Mo, a man who can read characters out of books and into the real world.  One night while reading the book Inkheart aloud to his wife and baby girl,  Mo reads several characters out of the book.  Unfortunately, for everything that is read out of a book, something must go in.  Mo’s wife is taken into the book, and the rest of the story is roughly about getting her back, while the characters from the book try to take over the real world.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford — While the characters of Inkheart are read into the real world, Detective Thursday Next in The Eyre Affair uses the Prose Portal to go into a book to stop a thief from blackmailing the literary world.  However, the damage done by Thursday and the thief to the classic novel Jane Eyre causes Thornfield Hall to burn down and Rochester’s mad wife to fall to her death…What do you mean that’s how the story ends?  Are you sure it always ended that way?   And are you sure that a Goliath Corporation operative named Jack Schitt hasn’t always been trapped in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven?

The Bookman’s Wake by John Dunning — Speaking of The Raven, the bibliomystery The Bookman’s Wake follows detective-turned-book dealer Cliff Janeway as he tries to protect a young woman who has stolen a rare volume of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven from someone who’s been killing people for more than 20 years to get his hands on it. This book also can teach you a lot about rare books and book binding, even as the reader stops into the University District Half Price Books store while following Janeway to Snoqualmie Falls. (Seriously, we’re in the book!)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak — Since we were talking about people stealing books, we can’t leave out Liesel Meminger, the main character of The Book Thief, a book which is, of course, narrated by Death, during Nazi-Germany, a time when Death admits he was a pretty busy guy.  Liesel steals her first book after an apprentice gravedigger drops The Grave Digger’s Handbook in the snow after her brother’s funeral.  The also steals The Shoulder Shrug from a pile of books to be burned in celebration of Hitler’s birthday  Throughout this book, the power of books to change lives is explored.  Liesel even writes the book of her life story, which is the book that Death has been carrying around with him for years.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury — If we are going to mention burning books, we have to mention Fahrenheit 451, which is about a man whose job is to burn books.  First published in 1953, this book talks about technology taking over our lives and making them empty.  Books became blander and blander due to censorship, and finally stopped selling altogether.  So the government started burning them.  However, some people don’t give up their books willingly and are arrested or killed.  Montag, the main character is a fireman, or someone who burns books for a living, but he is also a man searching for something more in his life.  He begins to keep and read some of the books he is supposed to burn until the men he works with start coming after him.

Now, this is just a sampling of some wonderful and at times very poignant books about books.  There are many others.  In fact, the Assistant Manager at the Mesquite store might kill me for not mentioning The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende.  So, what are your favorite books about books?

Julie is Production Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.