The City of Dreaming Books

The City of Dreaming Books, by Walter Moers, is a journey into the depths of book love.  The dinosaur we follow is Optimus Yarnspinner, who is journeying to bookhold in search of a writer who once sent Optimus’s uncle the greatest piece of literature he had ever seen. Armed with the manuscript, Yarnspinner goes to the city of Bookhold, a city dedicated to the production, the selling, the appreciation and the collecting of books. From the shops above ground to the laberynth of tunnels extending far beneath the city, we travel with Yarnspinner through a world where just reading a book is serious, life threatening business.

If the sheer heft of the book doesn’t give it away let me say, despite the apparent subject matter and quirky drawings, this book is not meant for children younger than, say, ten. It’s not that there is ever any subject matter that I think would be too horribly inappropriate, it’s just that it is a deceptively difficult read for younger readers.

Meanwhile, it also didn’t really overly appeal to me. It felt like it sits in a middle ground between a young adult story and literature.  While I could never call the book boring, it’s not, there are times where it does get a bit tedious. It’s clear Moers has never met a word he doesn’t like and doesn’t hesitate to string together a new word at the drop of a hat.  For the most part this plays to his advantage but it also makes for an occasionally combersome read.

So if you’re in a bit of a flippant mood and don’t mind taking a break with a charming read about dinosaurs, cave spiders and a Shadow King terrorizing Book Hunters in the catechombs, The City of Dreaming Books might be up your alley.

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