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16 Meta Fantasy Novels About Books, Stories, and Libraries

Books within books, stories within stories. These sci-fi/fantasy novels are perfect for people who can never have enough books.

Book-Lovers Fantasy Novels

The idea of books and stories inside books and stories is a trope many book-lovers always appreciate. Perhaps it’s simply understanding that books, as Stephen King so succinctly put it, are magic. They transport us. 

Who hasn’t dreamed of finding themselves somehow swept into their favorite story at least once? To capture that endless magic, we gathered 16 books about stories, books, and libraries.

The Best Fantasy Books About Books

book of night, a sci fi fantasy book

Book of Night

By Holly Black

In a world where magicians carefully protect their secrets, what could be more valuable than information? Charlie Hall is a retired thief and con-artist who spent most of her life stealing books of magic for gloamists, who can manipulate shadows. Now, Charlie is content to work as a bartender … until a terrible figure from her past returns. 

Soon Charlie is thrown into a world of secrets and murder in the first of a new Holly Black duology (with Thief of Night slated for 2024). Those familiar with Black's previous work will find Book of Night more targeted toward adults and chock-full of mystery and intrigue.

cover of the midnight library, illustrated with paired windows of various scenes

The Midnight Library

By Matt Haig

So, what exactly is The Midnight Library? 

Matt Haig's bestselling novel introduces readers to a library where all the infinite realities are stored inside books: The life you could have lived, the decision you didn’t make. Every possibility is shelved in neat, tidy rows. The story follows Nora Seed as she faces the enormous task of travelling through the library to explore each choice, desperate to find exactly what makes a life meaningful and fulfilled.


The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak

Liesel finds a book buried in the snow by her brother’s gravestone. The Gravedigger’s Handbook was left there by mistake, and Liesel takes it, stealing her first book—but not her last. Her father teaches her to read, and she quickly sets out to steal more books. She takes them from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever she can. But in 1939 Nazi Germany, Death has never been busier. And when her foster family hides a Jewish man in the basement, Liesel will face far more danger than she did stealing books.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Cloud Cuckoo Land

By Anthony Doerr

In Constantinople, 1453, an orphaned seamstress and a cursed boy live and fight on opposite sides of a wall, risking everything to survive. 

Fast forward to Idaho, 2020, and two outcasts, one young and one old, face a lifetime of struggles. Their solutions couldn’t be more different. Konstance is humanity’s last hope. Only by going back to an ancient text can she find an answer that can save her people. Across time and space, the love of a single book ties multiple lives together. No matter what happens, it’s the stories that survive.

The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation

By Erika Swyler

Simon Watson is a young librarian. His mother, once a circus “mermaid,” drowned in the Sound his house sits on. His father died, too. And his sister reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival she fled to years earlier. But then he receives a mysterious book, an old log of traveling carnivals from the 1700s. In it, he discovers incidents of strange and magical occurrences, including a drowned mermaid. He learns that the mermaids in Simon’s family have all drowned., and always on July 24. As the date draws closer, Simon becomes increasingly worried about his sister. Is his family cursed? Might the solution lie hidden in the book he now holds?

The Reader by Traci Chee

The Reader

By Traci Chee

Sefia knows how to survive. Ever since her father was murdered and she fled with her aunt, Nin, into the forest, it’s all she’s learned how to do. But when Nin is kidnapped, the only clue is a strange object—a book—that is rare in Sefia's illiterate society. With the help of a stranger harboring plenty of his own secrets, Sefia embarks on a journey to save her aunt and find out what really happened to her father all those years ago. 

If she can, she’ll punish whoever is responsible for both.


The Invisible Library

By Genevieve Cogman

The Library harvests fictional books from multiple realities, and Irene spies for them. When she’s sent to alternate London to retrieve a dangerous book, she discovers it’s already been stolen. The warring factions of London’s underground are willing to die to get their hands on it, but this London has more than dangerous books at play. With supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic, things are hard enough. To make things worse, Irene's new assistant seems to be hiding secrets of his own. Irene faces dangerous turns, mysterious clues, and the intrigue of secret societies. She refuses to fail. After all, the fate of all reality is at stake.

ink heart


By Cornelia Funke

Meg loves books. She reads whenever she can, devouring books faster than her bookbinder father can fix them. But when he starts reading a book called Inkheart to her, the unimaginable happens. The villain, an evil ruler named Capricorn, emerges from the pages and stands in their living room. Suddenly, Meg and her father are in the middle of an adventure she’s only read about in books. If she wants to change the story, she has to learn to harness the magic that unleashed the characters in the first place or risk being stuck in this new world forever. 

Nebula Awards finalists

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

By Alix E. Harrow

When January Scaller was seven years old, she found a Door. Long forgotten, she now lives as a ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke in a sprawling mansion filled with curiosities. January feels like one of his collections. She’s taken care of but feels out of place, one oddity placed among the rest. Everything changes when she finds a book. In it are stories of Doors, love, adventure, and more. The more she reads, the more memories of her past start to surface, and with it, the chance to escape into the worlds beyond.

The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount Char

By Scott Hawkins

Carolyn doesn’t go outside much since her parents died and she was taken in by a mysterious man she calls Father. Over the years, she’s adapted to his strange ways, growing up alongside her adopted siblings. With little else to do, Carolyn and the other children study the books in Father’s Library and start to think he might be God. When Father goes missing, the books he guarded are now vulnerable—and all creation is vulnerable with them. New competitors rise, wanting to take Father’s place and become a new God. But Carolyn has a plan. The only problem is, in preparing for war, she’s neglected to protect the very things that make her human.

The Forbidden Library by Django Jexler

The Forbidden Library

By Django Wexler

After Alice’s father dies in a shipwreck, she has to live with an uncle she’s never even heard of let alone met. The one place in his enormous manor that’s interesting is the massive library that she isn’t allowed inside. When she meets a talking cat, everything changes. At the cat’s invitation, Alice enters the forbidden library and meets a boy who dares her to open a book. Unable to resist, she’s soon trapped inside. The only way out is to defeat the creature hidden in the pages.



By Roald Dahl

Matilda is too smart for her own good. At a young age, she devours any book she can get her hands on. Even though she’s absolutely the teacher’s pet, her classmates adore her. But not everything is perfect for young Matilda: To start, her parents hate how much she reads and are constantly trying to stop her. Then there’s Miss Trunchbull, the former hammer-throwing champion turned principle who flings children around at the drop of a hat. Luckily, Matilda has learned a thing or two from all her books ... and maybe a little something extra to help her get exactly what she wants.


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

By Robin Sloan

Clay Jannon is out of work. Walking through the city, he stumbles upon an old bookstore with a hiring sign in the window. Soon enough, he’s working the nightshift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. It’s a strange job where most of the patrons check books out rather than buy them. Putting his computer skills to work, he starts tracking the patterns to see who checks out what book and when. 

When he stumbles on a secret society and an ancient mystery he and his friends find themselves on a quest to solve the puzzle, to answer the questions, and perhaps, to even find love.

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang

The Library of Legends

By Janie Chang

When Japanese bombs fall on Nanking in 1937, Hu Lian and her fellow classmates are evacuated. They have to trek 1,000 miles to reach safety. Part of their journey requires that they carry the Library of Legends, a 500-year-old collection of ancient Chinese myths and folklore. But when a classmate is arrested and another murdered, Lian realizes that a family secret puts her at risk too. She leaves the group, travelling to Shanghai to find her mother. But as the ancient book makes its way across China, immortals and guardian spirits are woken by its call, and their intentions will change the fate of the country forever.

The Library of the Unwritten AJ Hackwith

The Library of the Unwritten

By A.J. Hackwith

When an author doesn’t finish a book, it goes to the Library of the Unwritten—in Hell. It’s a quiet wing, but there’s always a risk that the characters inside these discarded books will materialize and try to escape. Claire is the Head Librarian, tasked with keeping an eye on these unfinished stories. When a Hero escapes and sets out to seek his author, Claire and her two assistants track him down. But what should be a standard recovery goes terribly wrong when an Angel accuses them of holding the powerful Devil’s Bible. In the war between Heaven and Hell, that book is a powerful weapon, and the only people who can be trusted to find it are the librarians.


Ink and Bone

By Rachel Caine

The Great Library of Alexandria survived, and now its presence is in every city. Through alchemy, the Library can deliver any work to anyone. The only catch is no one can personally own books. Jess Brightwell believes in the Great Library, even if most of his education came from illegal books. He’s sent to the Library to be a spy, only to have his loyalty tested during his training when his friend invents a device that could change the way knowledge is transferred. But the people who control the Great Library will go to any length to protect their power. 

It doesn’t matter if books burn as long as heretics burn with them.

book giveaway

The Starless Sea

By Erin Morgenstern

Zachary Ezra Rawlins finds three clues in a curious book in the University library—a book that seems to tell the story of his own childhood as much as the tale of  prisoners and acolytes. Eventually he finds a secret doorway leading to an ancient library hidden deep underground. In it, Zachary finds lost books and meets their guardians, the warriors dedicated protectors who will do anything to preserve the archive. Because there are those who want nothing more than to destroy it. As he makes his way through the realm, Zachary searches for his own meaning in both the book and his life.