When you get right down to it, the concept of books about books is a little weird. After all, if you'd read the book in question, what could you have possibly missed that required another book to explain to you?
Well, it turns out a lot. Sometimes you're dealing with a huge series that is so full of characters and details that the average person simply can't keep up with every little tidbit. Other times, you've got something so in-depth that even repeated reading will not reveal all the tiny Easter eggs hidden with the author's work. With those parameters in mind, we highly recommend the following companions for your bookshelf.
Most of us have read Anne Rice's acclaimed vampire books, and many of them still stand the test of time. Granted, that's because we didn't know how bad vampire books could get, but we still pick up Interview from time to time. Better than the vampires, though, is her trilogy following the lives of the Mayfair Witches.
Truth be told, you don't really need The Witches' Companion to fill in any mysteries surrounding the Mayfairs since Rice lays the whole thing out pretty clearly. The Companion does have one indispensable section, though. The Mayfair line is pretty damned inbred, and while people joke about their family tree being a stick, actually tracing out the bloodlines is a lot harder than you think. Until we picked up this book, just trying to gave us a splitting headache.
Kim Harrison's Hollows books are another paranormal mystery series, but they manage to capture the audience with some unforgettable characters like Jenks, whose swear words involving Tinkerbell's dildo were the focus of a previous article. It's good brain candy fun about witches, vampires, fairies and a planetwide fear of tomatoes.
The recently released Hollows Insider is amazing not only for the deeply forensic way in which it approaches its magical world, but also for the sheer readability of the book. We're given a whole new character to narrate the lexicon, a reporter who is obsessed with series protagonist Rachel Morgan after a misfired spell causes him to lose all his hair. The Insider is arranged like a file, complete with journal entries, newspaper clippings and other bits of random information that is gripping even if you haven't followed the Hollows books. It's unique on this list for being a fair piece of literature just on its own.