The City of Dreaming Books

The City of Dreaming Books

4.6 38
by Walter Moers

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Overlook has published three of Walter Moers's hilarious and beloved Zamonia books and The City of Dreaming Books, a fantastic tale for every book lover, is his most popular yet. Optimus Yanspinner inherits from his godfather an unpublished manuscript by an unknown writer and sets off to track down the mysterious author, who disappeared into Bookholm--the so-called…  See more details below


Overlook has published three of Walter Moers's hilarious and beloved Zamonia books and The City of Dreaming Books, a fantastic tale for every book lover, is his most popular yet. Optimus Yanspinner inherits from his godfather an unpublished manuscript by an unknown writer and sets off to track down the mysterious author, who disappeared into Bookholm--the so-called City of Dreaming Books. Yarnspinner falls under the spell of this book-obsessed metropolis, where an avid-reader and budding author can find any number of charming attractions--priceless signed first editions, salivating literary agents, and for-hire critics. But as Yarnspinner pursues the trail of the missing author, the darker side of Bookholm begins to unveil itself--cold-blooded book hunters, fearsome cyclopean booklings, sharp-toothed animotomes, and of course, the Shadow King, whose howls rise from deep beneath the city at night. Will Yarnspinner survive his quest into this world where reading is a genuine adventure?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

German author and cartoonist Moers returns to the mythical lost continent of Zamonia in his uproarious third fantasy adventure to be translated into English (after 2006's Rumo), a delightfully imaginative mélange of Shel Silverstein zaniness and oddball anthropomorphism à la Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Optimus Yarnspinner, a young saurian novelist, embarks on a quest to track down the anonymous author of the "most magnificent piece of writing in the whole of Zamonian literature." Traveling to Bookholm, the legendary City of Dreaming Books, the naïve Yarnspinner falls victim to Pfistomel Smyke, a maggotlike literary scholar who poisons Yarnspinner and abandons him in the treacherous catacombs miles below the city's surface. Stranded in an underworld steeped in terror-inducing myth and home to more than a few bizarre inhabitants, Yarnspinner undertakes a long and perilous journey back to the world above. Enchanting illustrations by the author compliment a wonderfully whimsical story that will appeal to readers of all ages. (Sept.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Sure, Larry McMurtry's got his own book town in Texas, and then there's Sedbergh and Hay-on-Wye over England way. But none of them can compare to the setting of Moers's (Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures, 2006, etc.) semifabulous tale of treasures hidden. Those with no patience for the syrupy, who eschew easy puns, who upchuck when Paolo Coelho's name comes up, are warned forthwith. German novelist Moers puts Tolkien through some sort of Willy Wonka sweetening process and comes up with characters such as Optimus Yarnspinner, who, names being fate and all, just has to be a storyteller, a gloriously esteemed trade over in the magical land of Zamonia. Op's pop's pal, Uncle Dancelot, is "more of a connoisseur of literature than an originator thereof," even though he's gone out to lunch for decades on the strength of his sole book, The Joys of Gardening. Dancelot has discovered the most wonderful manuscript in all the land and has gone all Svengali-like (or maybe Entrekin-esque) over the prospects of bringing its glories to the world. But then, zounds, old Dancelot takes a dirt nap and Optimus is left with the manuscript, which puts him in "a state of feverish exuberance after only a few paragraphs." What's an entrepreneur to do? Well, head for Bookholm, where booksellers and publishers abound, the former peddling books that are "neither truly alive nor truly dead but located in an intermediate limbo akin to sleep." In this altogether bookish and symbolism-choked place, Optimus learns valuable lessons, such as how to keep clear of big bad Pfistomel Smyke and the voracious Bookhunters while absorbing useful lessons in literature and life from the likes of the Homuncolossus, who instructs ouryoung charge that the only reason he hasn't produced publishable work himself is that he's "writing with the wrong paw." Q.E.D. "Tonstant Weader fwowed up," wrote Dorothy Parker after reading Winnie the Pooh. She had it easy. For the innocent of heart, unsullied by taste.

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Product Details

The Overlook Press
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File size:
22 MB
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Age Range:
18 Years

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The City of Dreaming Books (Zamonia Series #3) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Eagle_and_Child More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Walter Moers works, and this is by far his best. I am an obsessive reader, and this is in my all time top ten. Such a miraculous tale filled with adventure, suspense, hope, all that you could want. This is an ideal book for any book lover. A book about a city of books which sits atop catacombs filled with books. Written by a man who obviously is madly in love with books. A bibliophile cannot ask for a better piece of art. Read this, you won't regret it.
Nichole Wagner More than 1 year ago
My newest favorite book. A little chunk of bliss in a book. Did not want to put it down until I was done and then wanted to cry because it was over. Happiness in print.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Always looking for something a little different to read, I stumbled across this book. What a delightfully different book with as many twists and turns as the catacombs beneath Bookholm! I couldn't put it down.
Oklahomabooklady More than 1 year ago
Optimus Yarnspinner destiny is to become a writer. Some of the best Zamomian literature has come from Lindworm Castle where Optimus lives.

When his authorial godfather, Dancelot Wordwright, passes away he lives Optimus a mysterious manuscript. After reading it he decides he must find the author.

So he sets off for the only place a mysterious author might be found, Bookholm.

"Bookholm had more than five thousand officially registered antiquarian bookshops and roughly an thousand semi-legal establishments that sold, in addition to books, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and intoxicating herbs and essences whose ingestion was reputed to enhance your pleasure and powers of concentration when reading. There was also an almost incalculable number of itinerant vendors with printed matter of every conceivable kind for sale in shoulder bags or in handcarts, in wheelbarrows and mobile bookcases. Bookholm boasted over six hundred publishing houses, fifty-five printers, a dozen paper mills and a steadily growing number of factories producing lead type and printers ink. There were shops offering thousands of different bookmarks and ex-libris, stonemasons specializing in bookends, cabinetmakers workshops and furniture stores filled with lecterns and bookcases, opticians who manufactured spectacles and magnifying glasses, and coffeeshops on ever street corner."

Optimus was in a booklovers paradise. He spends the next couple days just wandering through the city. He even sees his first bookhunter! He happens upon a building with a sign outside saying it was "The Chamber of Hazardous Books". The Vulphead outside tells passerby to make out their wills before entering. There are books that can bite, strangle and fly. Optimus decides against going in. He also gets to see the "Graveyard of Forgotten Writers" (not an actual graveyard), "Poison Alley" and "Editorial Lane".
He makes a few attempts at finding the author to the manuscript he carries. Either no one knows or is unwilling to talk about who the author is.
Finally he finds someone whom he thinks will help him. Poor Optimus is tricked and banished deep within the catacombs of the city. Opitmus is in for an adventure of a lifetime if he can only survive trying to find his way out of the catacombs.

I truly enjoyed reading this book. I loved reading the descriptions of the city and the titles of some of the books Optimus finds. Walter Moers has written several books set in this same world of Zamomian. If you haven't had a chance to read this I think most readers will enjoy this book. I enjoyed his other book called "the 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear".
Guest More than 1 year ago
To sum up this novel - it is yet another stroke of genius by German author Walter Moers. His previous books took us into the continent of Zamonia, and this book does it once more. Comical drawings done by Moers himself only add to the exciting and captivating setting of this novel. A good book with no doubt.
geekchicMM More than 1 year ago
This is such a fun tale with great illustrations. Zamora is one of those fictional places you wish you can visit. I will be reading everything by Walter Moers in the future. Recommend to anyone who likes Douglas Adams as an adult and Shel Silverstein as a child.
ConfuzzledShannon More than 1 year ago
A strange book with stranger creatures.  There are lizards, cyclopes, living books, and some things I can not even describe.   Optimus Yanspinner goes on an adventure looking for the author of the best written story ever.    Optimus almost dies many times as he gets lost in the catacombs of Bookholm..   I did not get into the book until I was half way through.  The book became fun once the Booklings came along.  This a uniquely strange and delirious book.  I find it really hard to described because is like nothing I can remember.   I figure how can you go wrong with a book about books and a world that loves books. The biggest reason I had a hard time getting into the book until the middle was because all the strange names and strange descriptions.  I also felt that there were times the description was like watching a movie with too much going on at once and not really knowing what was going on.  I reread some scenes over and over.  A world of book lovers and writers who write books that become magically dangerous and some that are just normal readable books. How can you not love a world like that if you are avid reader.  The book is very different.  Am I glad I read it? Yeah I guess I am.  It really for someone with an wide open imagination. 
Hagbard_Celine More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend Walter Moers. Imaginative world of Zamonia that is insanely creative & filled with books & bookings. 
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Another gem by walter moers
pdt More than 1 year ago
Loved this book and all the characters!
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SlipIntoMagik More than 1 year ago
There has never been, nor will there ever be a masterpiece like this again. I would recommend this book to anyone.
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Gooberpoop More than 1 year ago
Check out my review on 'The Alchemaster's Apprentice' it is the same for this masterpiece
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