The Library Book
Whether brand new or steeped in history, real or imagined, libraries feature in everyone's lives. In memoirs, essays and stories that are funny, moving, visionary or insightful, twenty-three famous writers celebrate these places where minds open and the world expands.Public libraries are lifelines, to practical information as well as to the imagination, but funding is under threat all over the country. This book is published in support of libraries, with all royalties going to The Reading Agency's library programmes.

The Library Book Details

TitleThe Library Book
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 25th, 2019
PublisherProfile Books
ISBN-139781781250051
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Books About Books, Essays, Short Stories

The Library Book Review

  • Emer
    January 1, 1970
    "To reduce a library to simple architecture, bricks and mortar is a mistake. Similarly, to suggest a library is defined by the books on its shelf is erroneous. Libraries are very special spaces, spaces where people come together in separate but joint pursuits of knowledge, of learning. Libraries are the heartbeats of communities." This is a collection of short writings by various authors covering both fiction and non-fiction that talk about the library experience and the value that the library "To reduce a library to simple architecture, bricks and mortar is a mistake. Similarly, to suggest a library is defined by the books on its shelf is erroneous. Libraries are very special spaces, spaces where people come together in separate but joint pursuits of knowledge, of learning. Libraries are the heartbeats of communities." This is a collection of short writings by various authors covering both fiction and non-fiction that talk about the library experience and the value that the library holds in each of the writer's lives. As with any collection some stories are more moving than others but all are eminently readable making for a very enjoyable read. I particularly enjoyed the shorts by Anita Anand and Stephen Fry. Both stories in this instance were the writers' childhood memories of using their library and as someone who started using her local library from the earliest age I readily identified with their fondness for the library. three stars
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  • Alexandra
    January 1, 1970
    "Libraries don't service only left-wingers or right. they don't judge by class, race or religion. they service everyone in their community, no matter their circumstances. rich or poor, no one is denied. libraries are not simply part of our guarantee to the pursuit of happiness. they are a civil right. if we lose our libraries, we risk losing our communities, our families and ourselves."i FLEW through this one. it's a compilation of stories by u.k. authors all about how their lives have been shap "Libraries don't service only left-wingers or right. they don't judge by class, race or religion. they service everyone in their community, no matter their circumstances. rich or poor, no one is denied. libraries are not simply part of our guarantee to the pursuit of happiness. they are a civil right. if we lose our libraries, we risk losing our communities, our families and ourselves."i FLEW through this one. it's a compilation of stories by u.k. authors all about how their lives have been shaped by or changed by or made infinitely better by libraries. libraries are so many different things. they are safe havens, they are places to get FREE books so that EVERYONE in a community can have access to knowledge, regardless of their financial circumstances. libraries are meeting places for book clubs and community groups. places for students of all ages to work on research projects and study either with friends or individually. i know i personally have been shaped by libraries. i have always felt at home there, regardless of the location. libraries are almost like churches to me. all are welcome. it's just didjdjdhshdh. 🙌🏼🙌🏼i remember when i was a kid and i got my first library card and i proudly signed the back in horribly messy cursive and i just felt so...important and excited and eager to get started checking out books.when i was in elementary school we only had "Library" once a week, because the other days were devoted to other "Specials" like Gym or Art. and i always remember walking past the library when it wasn't library day and feeling so bummed and wishing i could just go in and look at all the books.i grew up in libraries and in bookstores, and was fortunate enough to always be surrounded by books. as i write this, i am literally surrounded by piles of books, bags of more books, shelves of even more books. and i couldn't imagine it any other way.it was beautiful to read what libraries mean to so many people but it also made me sad because in so many places around the world, funding for libraries is being cut. this book happened to pertain to the u.k., however it is happening all over the u.s. as well and it's so terrifying. so if you love books and reading, you might think of purchasing a copy of this book, as all proceeds go to the Reading Agency, which is a u.k. based organization that puts on library programs in various libraries throughout the u.k. and most importantly, frequent your local library! check books out, donate books there, participate in programs or book groups. 💙🙏🏼📚
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  • Kirsty
    January 1, 1970
    I picked this up from the library, wonderfully enough. Ordinarily, I very much enjoy books about books, but I had a feeling that this could be overshadowed somewhat by Ali Smith's wonderful Public Library and Other Stories. There is some marvellous content here, granted, but as with a lot of anthologies, some of the essays were greatly overshadowed by others which were more engaging, or better written. Some of them I just didn't really enjoy; they were either too short or rushed, or failed to ca I picked this up from the library, wonderfully enough. Ordinarily, I very much enjoy books about books, but I had a feeling that this could be overshadowed somewhat by Ali Smith's wonderful Public Library and Other Stories. There is some marvellous content here, granted, but as with a lot of anthologies, some of the essays were greatly overshadowed by others which were more engaging, or better written. Some of them I just didn't really enjoy; they were either too short or rushed, or failed to captivate me. The essays themselves are all different; some are informative, others filled with memories. Most are unfailingly enthusiastic, which is a wonderful trait in such a collection.If I were rating this based solely upon Stephen Fry's essay, it would have received five stars; ditto Bella Bathurst's amusing effort. Susan Hill wrote (sadly not all that extensively) about King's College London, and the benefits of the (alas, too expensive to use for the majority of students!) London Library. Her work was particularly vivid to me as a reader, since I'm now a KCL alumni myself. What is clear though is that libraries are, and have been, so incredibly important to such a range of people - and long may they continue to be. The Library Book is quite a quick read, but rather an important one, I feel.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    We are fortunate to live in a large community that has first-rate libraries and new books flowing (flooding!) in every day. Almost every time I am there, there is something next to something else right by whatever it was we were looking for, that turns out to be some kind of hidden gem, or best-kept secret. If my daughters stumble across a great book, then discover it is one in a series of five or eight, then it will be a great day. What would we do without the open and calming, and stimulating We are fortunate to live in a large community that has first-rate libraries and new books flowing (flooding!) in every day. Almost every time I am there, there is something next to something else right by whatever it was we were looking for, that turns out to be some kind of hidden gem, or best-kept secret. If my daughters stumble across a great book, then discover it is one in a series of five or eight, then it will be a great day. What would we do without the open and calming, and stimulating and engaging presence of libraries?"The libraries I love best are the ones that encourage readers to take this sort of chance. I worked for a while in Huddersfield Library and there staff regularly pulled books from their normal alphabetical order...and set up what they called the Serendipity Collection. This was a place to browse, to come upon a book to suit my mood, to fall for a new author."This collection of essays felt like a shelf on its cover; one can pick and choose what to read, discover a new author, happily read what a favorite wrote about her childhood filled with books (Zadie Smith!), get a book recommendation or two and feel satisfied in the end. The purpose of this book seems to be to raise awareness about the value of libraries in the UK, but the concepts are the same no matter where you live."A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold, rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead. A human with a brain and a heart and a desire to be uplifted, rather than a customer with a credit card and an inchoate need for stuff."Yes!
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  • Joanne
    January 1, 1970
    A great little gem of a book which has excerpts from 23 of the UK's most notable writers, including Zadie Smith, Julian Barnes and Stephen Fry, all reflecting on how libraries are used and why they are still important. The book is first and foremost an anthology: of short stories, book excerpts, brief memoirs and rememberings of libraries past and present. It's pleasure is twinfold: as a slim volume it enables a reader to dip in and out as time wills or allows, while the selection of pithy narra A great little gem of a book which has excerpts from 23 of the UK's most notable writers, including Zadie Smith, Julian Barnes and Stephen Fry, all reflecting on how libraries are used and why they are still important. The book is first and foremost an anthology: of short stories, book excerpts, brief memoirs and rememberings of libraries past and present. It's pleasure is twinfold: as a slim volume it enables a reader to dip in and out as time wills or allows, while the selection of pithy narratives provides readers with the chance to perhaps discover their favourite authors' thoughts on libraries, whether public, private, mobile or historical. In many ways this is both a worthy cause and tome for those who are consummate library lovers. In the UK as library closures and cuts unfortunately continue, the proceeds of this book supports The Reading Agency which organises reading schemes helping children and adults with low literacy levels. For those less library enlightened, the inclusion of Tom Holland's essay is brilliant, while the fictional library narratives contributed by Julian Barnes, China Mièville, Kate Mosse and Susan Hill creates a well-rounded and agreeably easy to read anthology. The idea of this book is rather simple: to celebrate libraries, as Karin Slaughter one of the many brilliant contributors so rightly says, "Reading is not just an escape, it is access to a better way of life."
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  • Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
    January 1, 1970
    £0.99 until Jun 7, 2012 in UK Kindle Jubilee Sale. Worth every penny.People should read this for Stephen Fry, Karin Slaughter and Julian Barnes's contributions, as these alone should convince EVERYONE, even cynical politicians, to preserve every single library, no matter how small. If you value books and are worried about their future, then this is a must read.The Library Book is filled with essays, stories and autobiographical pieces by a range of authors and journalists from different backgrou £0.99 until Jun 7, 2012 in UK Kindle Jubilee Sale. Worth every penny.People should read this for Stephen Fry, Karin Slaughter and Julian Barnes's contributions, as these alone should convince EVERYONE, even cynical politicians, to preserve every single library, no matter how small. If you value books and are worried about their future, then this is a must read.The Library Book is filled with essays, stories and autobiographical pieces by a range of authors and journalists from different backgrounds about the importance of libraries in the past, present (2012) and future. The proceeds of this book go to The Reading Agency, a UK charity which runs reading programmes in libraries, so even though it advocates using and preserving libraries, buying this will also have a beneficial effect.Foreword by Rebecca Gray & Afterword: The Reading Agency by Miranda McKearney This Place Will Lend You Books For Free by James Brown 4★As this dude says "it's cheaper than Amazon." In my case, I spent £0.99 buying the Kindle edition and my library would've charged £0.70 to reserve the dead tree edition so for me this was true. Character Building by Anita Anand 2★Anand recalls herself as a voracious reader as a child, leaning to one side as she struggled to carry home piles of books. The Defence of the Book by Julian Barnes 5★A previously unseen extract from England, England. *adds to shelf*A dystopian view of future England and the role of the library. Having dead tree books makes it harder to control the truth whereas with a few clicks digital information can be distorted. Could've done without this cliffhangering mid-sentence though. I wanna know the rest! The Punk and the Langside Library by Hardeep Singh Koli 2★This personal experience shows the diverseness of the people that use and intermingle inside the walls of libraries and how it strengthens communities. The Rules by Lucy Mangan 4★A charmingly funny list of rules in Mangan's library. Baffled at a Bookcase by Alan Bennett 1★ [unfinished]Tedious and over-long, I lost interest. The Future of the Library by Seth Godin 5★I'd love to see Godin's ideas come to fruition on libraries teaching how to find and use information efficiently rather than just being repositories, encouraging a far more active role in communities. Going to the Dogs by Val McDermid 3★Ah, the ingenuity of children. In order gain access to the world of adult books the young McDermid tells the librarians her mother is bedridden and must supply her with books. They fall for it -hook, line and sinker. I ❤ Libraries by Lionel Shriver 4★Shriver argues libraries support publishers and writers when unless something is a bestseller a book may only remain on shelves for 6 weeks after release, and publishers refuse to keep backlists in print. She concludes with: 'I am bequeathing whatever modest estate I accumulate by my death to the Belfast Library Board.' I respect her reasons for doing this. Kudos. Have You Heard of Oscar Wilde? by Stephen Fry 5★Amazing. People should get this book just for this. The autobiographical piece explains so much about this man and his obsession with Oscar Wilde, his idol. (He even plays him in the movie, Wilde.) This is incredibly moving and inspiring, and exactly why access to books is so important. The Secret Life of Libraries by Bella Bathurst 4★Interested in the miscellaneous oddities of libraries? What people choose to do in them other than the obvious? This is for you. They can be more licentious places than the stuffy, church-like atmosphere suggests. Very interesting. The Booksteps by China Miéville 2★An extract from Un Lun Dun.A strange children's story of a crossover from real London to the mirror world of UnLondon. Alma Mater by Caitlin Moran 3★Moran argues that once you close libraries they will be too costly to reopen when things get better. So once they're gone, they're gone forever: 'Libraries that stayed open during the Blitz will be closed by budgets.' The Library of Babylon by Tom Holland 3★I skimmed this one a bit but it details the historical significance of libraries in the ancient world and how they were symbols of great power for many rulers: 'Knowledge was power - and power was barely worth having without knowledge.' A Corner St James's by Susan Hill 1★Apparently she met E.M. Forster and T.S. Eliot but that's all I remember about this one. It Takes a Library... by Michael Brooks 1★ [unfinished]Lost interest. The Magic Threshold by Bali Rai 1★Not that interesting. Best quote: 'Technology has its place, but it would not even exist without books and libraries.' Libraries Rock! by Ann Cleeves 2★The end of this piece is excellent: 'And if libraries don't support these writers, publishers won't commission them. Without money, libraries are tempted to buy what is certain to issue - and that's the material that you can find in every supermarket, the bestsellers, the easily promoted. Libraries aren't supermarkets; they're places of cultural importance, where magic happens and where dreams begin.' The Five-Minute Rule by Julie Myerson 3★About the role the library played as a child when Myerson was an exuberant young writer, plus some tips on how to get started. If You Tolerate This... by Nicky Wire 2★Nicky Wire as interviewed by Robin Turner for The GuardianWire's answer to the plight of libraries: 'higher taxation of wealthiest 10% of the country.' Library Life by Zadie Smith 2★Smith believes this shameful government is trying to hand off the burden of building and maintaining of infrastructure (like libraries and schools) to the people with the invention of the 'Big Society' so they're free to nationalise and save the private sector. The Lending Library by Kate Mosse 1★ [unfinished]I gave up on this one. I think it was a supernatural murder mystery set in the 1950s involving a library but my attention wandered. It was also longer than most of the other pieces. Fight for Libraries as You Do Freedom by Karin Slaughter 5★A powerful, passionate and well-researched essay by an internationally bestselling author all ready proactive in the fight to save libraries by founding the 'Save the Libraries' project which has so far raised $100k. I wholeheartedly agreed with her hard-hitting and direct arguments. I must read this author. I have no idea what my average rating of these pieces is but I do believe this is an important, timely book. It depicts the current crisis, gives us the historical importance of libraries, divulges a broad range of positive life-changing personal experiences with libraries and the negative effects should libraries go into decline, and presents the need for libraries to evolve and stay up-to-date.
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  • Kam
    January 1, 1970
    I grew up with a mother who loved to read, and shared that love with her daughters. She wasn't a very big believer in TV as entertainment for her children, which meant my sister and I only had a handful of hours to watch TV when we were kids - usually Sesame Street and Batibot, a show similar to Sesame Street except in Filipino. On top of that, my mother had a shelf containing books she'd chosen for us, and was happy to let us go read whatever we wanted, anytime we wanted. At the time, we were s I grew up with a mother who loved to read, and shared that love with her daughters. She wasn't a very big believer in TV as entertainment for her children, which meant my sister and I only had a handful of hours to watch TV when we were kids - usually Sesame Street and Batibot, a show similar to Sesame Street except in Filipino. On top of that, my mother had a shelf containing books she'd chosen for us, and was happy to let us go read whatever we wanted, anytime we wanted. At the time, we were still living in the big house in North Greenhills with my grandparents, who had what I now know might be called a "private library:" a room set aside exclusively for the storage and reading of books. As a child I remember wandering into the room from time to time to stare at the shelves and inhale the scent of paper and dust, taking down a book every so often to see what was inside. I was, however, far too young to really understand what I was reading - as it turned out, most of it had to do with military history, biographies, and autobiographies: my grandfather's personal collection. Biographies and autobiographies were his preferred genre, and as for the military history, well, he was a retired brigadier general, so it stood to reason he'd have a lot of books related to his career. Eventually, as I grew older and went to school, I realized that libraries were, hands-down, my favorite place at any educational facility I was at. At the preparatory school I attended prior to entering grade school, I experienced great frustration at not being allowed to read the research books that the school kept in the highest shelves - enough that I have a vague memory of my mother speaking to one of the administrators, reassuring her that I wouldn't chew on the covers or tear the pages. I was not an uncivilized savage, after all, and knew how to treat books with respect. I recall my mother's pride - clear in her tone and in the set of her shoulders - at the fact that she had raised her daughter properly in that regard. When I entered grade school, the library made a great hiding place for dodging classes I didn't want to attend. Not only did my grades stay high (I regularly placed in first, second, or third on the honors' roll) because of all the reading I was doing, but I was able to dodge the bullies who made attending actual classes absolutely miserable for me. When I transferred to another school in fourth grade, I stopped dodging classes, but the library stil provided a refuge from bullies. The library was, for me, an escape from what troubled me, providing me with a multitude of avenues - via books, of course - that would help me forget everything that troubled me for an hour or so. Libraries, therefore, have been crucial in my development into the person I am now. As a teacher, reader, and writer in my own way, I can say with great confidence that I wouldn't have become who I am now if it weren't for the libraries I'd entered, used, and continue to use throughout my life. It's because of this love of libraries that I picked up The Library Book, a collection of essays about libraries and how they have shaped and continue to shape the lives of the people who enter and use them.Actually, to say that the contents of the book are all essays would be inaccurate: China Mieville's contribution is actually an excerpt from his book Un Lun Dun, while Kate Mosse's contribution is a short horror story. JUlian Barnes' piece might look like an essay, but it's actually more like a chunk of a longer fictional work. The rest are an interesting combination of memoir, humor, and prediction, but all of them are connected to libraries: what they were, what they are, and where they might be going. And, since it's such a grab-bag of genres and tones, the impact of the essays in question tends to vary.The essays that I found the most touching were, in my opinion, the ones written by those who came from immigrant backgrounds, or for whom the library shaped them into who they are today - particularly if they are writers. Hardeep Singh Kholi's essay about how the library opened him up to the world in more ways than one was especially lovely to read, because it is impossible to be prejudiced when one is surrounded by the voices of humanity in a library (if it is, of course, a good library). Stephen Fry's essay, which I think is one of the best in the entire collection, is about how access to a library helped him to articulate his sexuality, and how that articulation led him to a wider world of reading. There are also the really humorous ones. James Brown's essay, titled "This Place Will Lend You Books for Free," almost feels like it was written by a hopelessly addicted soul who has found the best, fastest, and least dangerous way to acquire one's drug of choice. This is a sentiment that, I think, is very much shared by voracious readers everywhere, who are constantly confronted with the issue of not having enough space or money for all the books they want to read. The library, James Brown declares at the end, is "cheaper than Amazon," and in the twenty-first century world of easy and relatively cheap online acquisition, this is really saying something - especially since borrowing books is, for the most part, free.Lucy Mangan's essay is another gem of this collection. Titled "The Rules," it's about what kind of rules she would enforce if she were to have her own library. There's a bit of polemic at the start and in some of the rules, but the way they are articulated won't get in the way of the reader having a good giggle at what she's trying to write. It allows the reader to start up their own little fantasy about what they would do if they were in charge of their own libraries, what rules, and how many, they'd have. Those rules, after all, say a lot about what reading habits are most valued by the rule-maker, and are usually as unique as the rule-maker herself or himself.Another really amusing essay is Bella Bathurst's "The Secret Life of Libraries," which is both informative and a little gossipy in a most entertaining way. It starts out with a discussion about what kinds of books get stolen from which libraries, and what those thefts say about the communities those libraries serve, but it also talks about the people in the libraries themselves, both the staff and the people they serve. There is talk about how the staff treat drunks or the homeless who walk in off the street looking for a warm place to stay; or how in one library a notable TV personality was found dead at his desk and how now the library regularly checks for and rouses sleeping people, just to make sure no one dies under their watch again. Libraries have their own characters of course, and that is what makes them unique and interesting places to be at - one never knows who or what is going to walk through those doors, or what they're going to do, or what they're going to read, or ask.The rest are, as I said earlier, a grab-bag of memoir and polemic. One of the more beautiful memoir-style essays is "Baffled at the Bookcase" by Alan Bennett, who takes the reader through all the most memorable libraries in his life, and how each one was uniquely positioned to influence that particular point in his life. Some are politically-slanted, such as Zadie Smith's "Library Life," Nicky Wire's "If You Tolerate This...", and Karin Slaughter's "Fight for Libraries as You Do for Freedom" (which I felt was the best of those kinds of essays). That particular slant in these essays (and which are implied in the rest) are mostly because of why this book was made in the first place: to keep libraries in the UK open against further closure thanks to shifts in government policy.The only pieces I had an issue with in this entire book were the pieces that were actualy fiction: Julian Barnes' "The Defence of the Book," China Mieville's "The Booksteps," and Kate Mosse's "The Lending Library." I picked this book up because I saw Mieville and Fry's names as contributors, and while I was entirely happy with Fry's essay, I was disappointed to see that Mieville's contribution actually came from a book of his that I'd already read, instead of saying something new or personal about what libraries meant to him as a writer and a reader. Mosse's story, on the other hand, was meant to be a horror story with a library at its heart, but the library didn't turn out to be that vital, and the story itself was, frankly speaking, a bore. As for Barnes' piece, it was an interesting attempt to project a future where libraries no longer exist, but it was too short, and frankly, had too many shades of Fahrenheit 451 for me to find it particularly interesting.Overall, The Library Book is a touching, and oftentimes funny, look at why people love libraries, and why they should continue to stand despite, or because of, the rise of digital books - Seth Godin's essay "The Future of the Library" makes an interesting point regarding how we should define the words "library" and "librarian" in the twenty-first century. It is, however, a bit of a grab-bag of pieces, and the three fiction pieces I mentioned earlier will likely throw the reader for a somewhat unpleasant loop. Nevertheless, anyone who loves reading, and who loves libraries, wil find something to enjoy in this book, and will come away quite satisfied with it.
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  • SueKich
    January 1, 1970
    In praise of libraries (mostly).A slender volume containing a selection of pieces by well-known writers in praise of libraries. They tell us about their early experiences of their local library, Seth Godin (alone worth the price of admission) talks about the future of libraries, a few use the opportunity to sound off about politics and one or two cheeky authors fob us off with an extract from their previous work (I’m looking at you, China Miéville and Kate Mosse.) The one glaring omission is any In praise of libraries (mostly).A slender volume containing a selection of pieces by well-known writers in praise of libraries. They tell us about their early experiences of their local library, Seth Godin (alone worth the price of admission) talks about the future of libraries, a few use the opportunity to sound off about politics and one or two cheeky authors fob us off with an extract from their previous work (I’m looking at you, China Miéville and Kate Mosse.) The one glaring omission is any contribution from library users who are not actual published writers. In other words, readers. How I wish they’d have asked me!
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  • Crazytourists_books
    January 1, 1970
    A lovely book with short stories, memoirs, essays about public libraries. A polemic against the closure of libraries, a tribute to reading.
  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    I don't normally read non-fiction, but this came in new to the library last week, and as a member of library staff I was interested to see what all of these authors had to say about libraries and great to see such support for them, so important in the current climates when so many are threatened with closures.This book has 24 'chapters', each one is written by a different author and tells of their experience with libraries, how they first fell in love with the world of books and there are a coup I don't normally read non-fiction, but this came in new to the library last week, and as a member of library staff I was interested to see what all of these authors had to say about libraries and great to see such support for them, so important in the current climates when so many are threatened with closures.This book has 24 'chapters', each one is written by a different author and tells of their experience with libraries, how they first fell in love with the world of books and there are a couple of extracts from books.I found it fascinating to find out how they all first encountered a library, or first found their love for books. Some are funny, some more in depth and others captivating.I loved 'The Rules' by Lucy Mangan, her idea of what she would enforce is she ran her own library made me laugh. It's also interesting to hear how libraries have changed, many of them talk about big, important sometimes restricted buildings in which stern faced librarians ruled, or scholars ruled, the buildings large, intimidating. To think of the library I work in is like an entirely different world, gone is the days of silence in the libraries and children can have their choice of books, no rules on fiction/non-fiction.This book is a great tribute to what we do and what we can offer, there are no limits to libraries, anyone can come in, borrow books, use computers, sit and look at papers, attend events. They have been around for years and should be round for many more. Hopefully this book will make people re-think the way they look at libraries.It's also great that profits from the book go straight back into library funds.
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  • Christine Blachford
    January 1, 1970
    A collection of short stories from various different writers all focusing on the glory of the library. It doesn’t sound like an amazing read, and I can’t remember what prompted me to buy it in the first place (I was probably swept along in an Amazon sale somewhere). However, there are some glorious little nuggets in there, along with some that may or may not have been included just to fill the space.It’s only a short book anyway, and some of the essays really are just a few hundred words long. O A collection of short stories from various different writers all focusing on the glory of the library. It doesn’t sound like an amazing read, and I can’t remember what prompted me to buy it in the first place (I was probably swept along in an Amazon sale somewhere). However, there are some glorious little nuggets in there, along with some that may or may not have been included just to fill the space.It’s only a short book anyway, and some of the essays really are just a few hundred words long. Others are more rambling and indulgent, tales of growing up in and out of a library and looking through rose-tinted spectacles. I have good memories of the library too, but equally it’s not as relevant to me now as it was. Some of the stories are more political than others, which is understandable given the motivation for the book in the first place.My particular favourite piece was just a short item by Seth Godin, pointing out that librarians are not the guardians of books but of knowledge and how to get it. With that comes the idea that the library as a place may change but the librarians within will always be required.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book published by the reading agency, as an eulogy to the institution that is the public library system. All the authors in this book are fans of libraries, either because they have fond memories of them as children, or they were pivotal in their life. It has a couple of fictional extracts, and the remainder are essays on the reason that we cannot let national government abolish these essential parts of the community.I am a complete library addict. I see them as a free bookshop, and no This is a book published by the reading agency, as an eulogy to the institution that is the public library system. All the authors in this book are fans of libraries, either because they have fond memories of them as children, or they were pivotal in their life. It has a couple of fictional extracts, and the remainder are essays on the reason that we cannot let national government abolish these essential parts of the community.I am a complete library addict. I see them as a free bookshop, and normally visit once a week.
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  • Nikki
    January 1, 1970
    The Library Book is a collection of library-themed bits of writing, fiction and non-fiction, some of them republished from elsewhere, some of them just extracts from something else. It's an interesting enough little collection to flip through, and I rather liked Kate Mosse's story -- and given I paid 99p for it, it wasn't a waste of money. I would recommend it more to flip through than to read cover to cover, though. A reader's interest in each part will probably vary quite a bit.
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  • Vellum Voyages
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 helms Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages (www.vellumvoyages.com)Who hasn't stepped into a library at least at one stage in our life? A library has almost definitely helped us achieve something, be it research, printing, a study area and of course access to a plethora of books. Me? I LOVE libraries! Ever since I was a kid, libraries have always played a huge part of my childhood. Each city I have lived in, the first thing I have ever done is join its pub 3.5 helms Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages (www.vellumvoyages.com)Who hasn't stepped into a library at least at one stage in our life? A library has almost definitely helped us achieve something, be it research, printing, a study area and of course access to a plethora of books. Me? I LOVE libraries! Ever since I was a kid, libraries have always played a huge part of my childhood. Each city I have lived in, the first thing I have ever done is join its public library. So far, I have library cards from Sydney, Edinburgh, Carmarthen (Wales) and two from London! Yes, I collect library cards :D I love them! I love the feeling of stepping into a building that pays respect to books, helps people and also brings a community together despite ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation or income. Libraries don't judge :)"The Library Book" is a lovely mix of stories from various British authors mostly about their experiences with public libraries and how they have been influenced by them. As with any collection of stories, some stories are much more fascinating than others but they are all good reads in their own way. Some of the authors, also draw awareness to the importance of libraries and the critical role they play in communities. Just because a lot of printed media is going digital in our modern times, doesn't mean public libraries should become defunct and unusable. Public libraries should be cherished, maintained, used and supported as they are invaluable sources of information and facilities. Let's also not forget, for example, if you don't have a printer at home and you need something printed, the first thing you think of is the public library. It doesn't just help us in lending books and research but also provides everyday life resources that some may not have access to. Personally, I use libraries to help me find books and authors I normally don't buy but would still like to try! I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves their public library, have been influenced by it and of course for those who love reading :D P.S: I borrowed this book from the library!
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    The Library Book was published to support The Reading Agency, whose website describes itself as "a charity whose mission is to inspire more people to read more, encourage them to share their enjoyment of reading and celebrate the difference that reading makes to all our lives." Rebecca Gray, author of the foreward, along with her colleague "John" appear to be the editors for the volume, although no formal attribution statement is made. The book consists primarily of essays written by various aut The Library Book was published to support The Reading Agency, whose website describes itself as "a charity whose mission is to inspire more people to read more, encourage them to share their enjoyment of reading and celebrate the difference that reading makes to all our lives." Rebecca Gray, author of the foreward, along with her colleague "John" appear to be the editors for the volume, although no formal attribution statement is made. The book consists primarily of essays written by various authors championing libraries and reading. A couple of selections were excerpted from published works, including a a fictional one in the case of China Mieville's contribution. My favorite contribution was Val McDermid's "Going to the Dogs." It described her experiences with libraries over the years, providing insight into why she chose the mystery genre. I'll let you read the essay to find out why she entitled her essay as she did. My next favorite was "Libraries Rock!" by Ann Cleeves. While her essay was different in nature, I found it to be written with a great deal of thought. In contrast, one or two of the contributions seemed to be written in haste and unedited, even by the author. It's a book those of us who love books and libraries should love, but it really encourages support for both reading and libraries.
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  • Kats
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful collection of essays by some successful and talented writers. All in defense and in aid of public libraries (in the UK), a truly laudable cause. I particularly enjoyed the essays that were addressing the issue at hand (current UK government looking to close more than 10% of public libraries) and delivering strong and intelligent arguments in favour of keeping libraries open and accessible to everyone. Many contributors told personal (childhood) anecdotes about how libraries (and libr A wonderful collection of essays by some successful and talented writers. All in defense and in aid of public libraries (in the UK), a truly laudable cause. I particularly enjoyed the essays that were addressing the issue at hand (current UK government looking to close more than 10% of public libraries) and delivering strong and intelligent arguments in favour of keeping libraries open and accessible to everyone. Many contributors told personal (childhood) anecdotes about how libraries (and librarians) influenced and even shaped their lives, often very moving or funny stories that I just loved reading and could totally identify with. I'd have gladly given this collection five stars if it weren't for the dull / superfluous contributions by Seth Godin, China Mieville and Kate Mosse (some creepy ghost story that seemed completely pointless to me and was probably only in there because the protagonist does some volunteer work at a library.... come on!!), but most of the others were great and very enjoyable. I will give my copy of this lovely book to our local library for their English language section and hope that back in the UK this book creates some serious buzz amongst people and encourage them to fight for their libraries. A most worthy cause. 
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    This is a collection of memoirs, essays and stories from twenty three well known writers, all written in defence of the library. All royalties go to the Reading Agency's library programmes, so a good read for a good cause.
  • Dlmrose
    January 1, 1970
    3+
  • Cara Group
    January 1, 1970
    I’m proud to have checked this fantastic collection of essays on the importance of libraries in society out from my local library (yay - Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh)! If you love books - and importantly stories about books - I highly recommend it! This collaboration was created in response to the drastic cuts in funding that libraries have seen in recent years. Authors and musicians plead the case for books, libraries, & education. I’ve copied in just a few of the quotes that really stuck I’m proud to have checked this fantastic collection of essays on the importance of libraries in society out from my local library (yay - Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh)! If you love books - and importantly stories about books - I highly recommend it! This collaboration was created in response to the drastic cuts in funding that libraries have seen in recent years. Authors and musicians plead the case for books, libraries, & education. I’ve copied in just a few of the quotes that really stuck out to me. “you might not understand the point of such lowly gateways, or be able to conceive why anyone would crawl on their hands and knees for the privilege of entering one. It has always been, and always will be, very difficult to explain to people with money what it means not to have money. If education matters to you, they ask, and if libraries matter to you, well, why wouldn’t you be willing to pay for them if you value them? They are the kind of people who believe value can only be measured in money, at the extreme end of which logic lies the dangerous idea that people who do not generate a lot of money for their families cannot possibly value their families as people with money do.”“Perhaps it’s because they know what the history books will make of them that our politicians are so cavalier with our libraries: from their point of view, the fewer places where you can find a history book these days, the better.”“Reading develops cognitive skills. It trains your mind to question what you are told, which is why the first thing dictators do when they come to power is censor or ban books. It’s why it was illegal for so many years to teach slaves to read. It’s why girls in developing countries have acid thrown in their faces going to school.”
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  • Angelique
    January 1, 1970
    Anita Anand was on The Guilty Feminist promoting her OTHER book, but this came up for the e-reader from the library, so I read her chapter and saw Caitlin Moran and Lucy Mangan had also written a chapter, so hey, why not?These stories were largely amusing, personal, interesting-ish, thoughtful and most importantly pleasant. I liked the bit about older libraries and how everything was written on clay and when some power set it on fire, it meant that they were preserved, lol.It made me wonder what Anita Anand was on The Guilty Feminist promoting her OTHER book, but this came up for the e-reader from the library, so I read her chapter and saw Caitlin Moran and Lucy Mangan had also written a chapter, so hey, why not?These stories were largely amusing, personal, interesting-ish, thoughtful and most importantly pleasant. I liked the bit about older libraries and how everything was written on clay and when some power set it on fire, it meant that they were preserved, lol.It made me wonder what the role of libraries is going to be in the future. I use them, but SHOULD I be using them? As there were a lot of stories about being too poor to get books from anywhere else. And while books are as cheap as ever, they aren't as cheap as free. I also use the library for rhythm and rhyme, so perhaps that is the future? Apparently in Norn Ir there are no more librarians.Is this sad? Are libraries adapting? Are we less connected than before or more? These are the questions I was asking myself.I loved my library growing up, I hope my children will like theirs. Nothing is as nice as a book in one's hand. And being surrounded by books. Books for days.
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  • Helen
    January 1, 1970
    It is rare for me to score a book as a five star read. Rare too for me to decide that a book will stay on my shelves rather than be moved on. This one is a must-have for bibliophiles and library lovers everywhere. Easy to read; a testament to the good that libraries have done, and still do - if only they are given a chance. Definitely my sort of book. Personally I enjoyed it far more than Ali Smith's Public Library and other Stories, and felt it was more relevant.
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  • Johanne
    January 1, 1970
    A lovely little anthology mostly non-fiction about the joy of libraries with a couple of short stories thrown in too. very enjoyable and thought provoking easy read
  • Oda Renate
    January 1, 1970
    Fun, impactful and smart book with essays and fiction extracts about the value of libraries.I recomend this to: library lovers, book lovers, if you love short books.
  • Dana
    January 1, 1970
    This was a collection of short essays celebrating the roles that libraries play in our communities. It sounds like this was written in response to a movement by Parliament in Britain to close or cut funding to local libraries. Some essays were better than others, but I loved seeing how each author was positively impacted by a library, or by reading in general, in their youth.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    This book was like reading a telethon for libraries.
  • Joanna
    January 1, 1970
    Essays by some excellent folk and an impassioned call to support and use your local libraries = perfect. If you're not already a member of your local library, join. We need to protect these vital community resources for generations to come.
  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    A delightful anthology of the myriad reasons to love the library. This adorable little volume contains a mixture of reflection, short stories and excerpts from published articles about the importance and appeal of public libraries.I got a lot out of this book, and not just from the writers and journalists whose work I routinely enjoy such as Lucy Mangan and Stephen Fry. I heartily agreed with Ann Cleeves’ reflection on the incredible importance of a place where all kinds of books can be stocked, A delightful anthology of the myriad reasons to love the library. This adorable little volume contains a mixture of reflection, short stories and excerpts from published articles about the importance and appeal of public libraries.I got a lot out of this book, and not just from the writers and journalists whose work I routinely enjoy such as Lucy Mangan and Stephen Fry. I heartily agreed with Ann Cleeves’ reflection on the incredible importance of a place where all kinds of books can be stocked, not just the bestsellers and sure bets we see at the supermarket or the airport. To me this is definitely a big part of the wonder of the library; you know that there are thousands of hidden gems lining the shelves, books that perhaps were a commercial failure yet will brim with meaning for you. That wonderful sense that the pressure to perform has been lifted from each volume, that there is no need for your tastes to conform to the market and that this experience exists outside of the normal capitalist order of things. Michael Brooks reminds us of that special serendipitous kind of seeking that only happens in the library:“Every book I find via an internet search has something to say that I already know about. In a library, on the other hand, that book is only a starting point. That book is surrounded by books on a similar subject – books that I didn’t know about. You pick them up, flick through them, and find treasures – and wisdom – you would never otherwise have found.” —p115That process of discovery is so powerful when combined with the extremely low barrier to entry at the library:“... readers can take a chance on a book, pick one because they like the look of the cover or the title or because they see it returned by the gorgeous young man who lives in their street. After all, they have absolutely nothing to lose. The book will be free.” —Ann Cleeves, p127And even more incredible when you consider that you don’t owe the library anything more in return:“In any town or city, you can walk in and pick up the works of T.S. Eliot or Bret Easton Ellis, extremes of taste that you can dip into and thumb through without anyone nudging you to make a purchase. There really aren’t many things in life that can enrich you for free yet ask for nothing in return.” —Nicky Wire, p136There are so many reasons to feel all warm and fuzzy about the library. If you enjoy dwelling on them then you will definitely enjoy this book!
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  • Avril
    January 1, 1970
    A mixed bag, mostly delightful, occasionally moving, sometimes hilarious. A collection of essays, articles and stories about the importance of libraries, this book includes some absolute gems. Stephen Fry discovering Oscar Wilde; Val McDermid pretending her mother is bed-ridden in order to borrow adult books; an article by Bella Bathurst on 'The Secret Lives of Libraries' - I'd happily have bought the book for these three pieces alone.Zadie Smith's article on the necessity of public libraries is A mixed bag, mostly delightful, occasionally moving, sometimes hilarious. A collection of essays, articles and stories about the importance of libraries, this book includes some absolute gems. Stephen Fry discovering Oscar Wilde; Val McDermid pretending her mother is bed-ridden in order to borrow adult books; an article by Bella Bathurst on 'The Secret Lives of Libraries' - I'd happily have bought the book for these three pieces alone.Zadie Smith's article on the necessity of public libraries is brilliant and deeply logical: "It has always been, and always will be, very difficult to explain to people with money what it means not to have money. If education matters to you, they ask, and if libraries matter to you, well, why wouldn't you be willing to pay for them if you value them? They are the kind of people who believe value can only be measured in money, at the extreme end of which logic lies the dangerous idea that people who do not generate a lot of money for their families cannot possibly value their families as people with money do." Australians are as prone to this dangerous idea as the British; I'd like every local councillor to read Zadie Smith's 'Library Life'.It felt strange to BUY a book about the wonders of BORROWING books, but the profits do go to The Reading Agency. And I am inspired to go hang out at my local library, and to try to make sure it's there for future generations.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    The trouble with a book about libraries is that I want to cry the whole way through for the love and the fear of loss. This was a great collection - I'd already read Zadie Smith's piece in the last book I read, yet despite being a resolute 'no going back' sort of reader, I read it all again with equal, perhaps even greater, pleasure. One of the many phrases in the whole book that I wanted to clutch to myself was the description of her mother "reading for her life"It was interesting to have a few The trouble with a book about libraries is that I want to cry the whole way through for the love and the fear of loss. This was a great collection - I'd already read Zadie Smith's piece in the last book I read, yet despite being a resolute 'no going back' sort of reader, I read it all again with equal, perhaps even greater, pleasure. One of the many phrases in the whole book that I wanted to clutch to myself was the description of her mother "reading for her life"It was interesting to have a few pieces that were not about the UK as I have little understanding of how public library systems operate outside my own country. The most terrifying piece was by a journalist (who founded lad mag Loaded) on discovering the modern library for the first time as an adult with his child and girlfriend. For all his enthusiasm, his piece goes a long way to explaining why libraries are threatened. There were pieces by other national treasures such as Alan Bennett and one from Stephen Fry highlighting the role of libraries in shoring up his sense of identity as a young gay teenager. I liked that there was a piece of fiction amongst the memoirs and polemics.I found myself constantly scurrying to add books to my "To Be Borrowed" list, looking up people mentioned and even looking for music after the powerful piece by Manic Street Preacher Nicky Wire. As his song and his piece say "If you tolerate this, your children will be next"
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  • Alex Sarll
    January 1, 1970
    Picked this up because it had a China Mieville contribution - except that turned out just to be an excerpt from Un Lun Dun. Still, it contains some other people I like (Stephen Fry, Caitlin Moran), and it's all in a good cause (the defence of libraries) on which even authors in whom I have no further interest can hardly fail to turn in stirring pieces. Exceptions: the clunking, dribbling Ray Bradbury rip-off from Julian Barnes, and a reprinted piece from Kate Mosse which I can only assume was or Picked this up because it had a China Mieville contribution - except that turned out just to be an excerpt from Un Lun Dun. Still, it contains some other people I like (Stephen Fry, Caitlin Moran), and it's all in a good cause (the defence of libraries) on which even authors in whom I have no further interest can hardly fail to turn in stirring pieces. Exceptions: the clunking, dribbling Ray Bradbury rip-off from Julian Barnes, and a reprinted piece from Kate Mosse which I can only assume was originally an answer to the question 'Just how generic can a ghost story get?'
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