Ex Libris
Portals to all the knowledge in the world, libraries are also created universes of a multitude of imaginations. Librarians guide us to enlightenment as well as serving as the captains, mages, and gatekeepers who open the doors to delight, speculation, wonder, and terror. Both inspire writers of speculative fiction to pen wonderful tales woven around them. This captivating compilation of science fiction and fantasy short fiction showcases stories of librarians-mysterious curators, heroic bibliognosts, arcane archivists, catalogers of very special collections-and libraries-repositories of arcane wisdom, storehouses of signals from other galaxies, bastions of culture, the last outposts of civilization in a post-apocalyptic world . . . grand adventures and small sagas of the magical places we call libraries and the wizards who staff them!

Ex Libris Details

TitleEx Libris
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 9th, 2018
PublisherPrime Books
ISBN1607014890
ISBN-139781607014898
Number of pages384 pages
Rating
GenreShort Stories, Fantasy, Anthologies, Science Fiction

Ex Libris Review

  • Jen
    April 29, 2017
    After doing the math, despite some REALLY blow your mind stories, it averaged out to 3.09 stars for me. The best, to find and read somewhere, if not from this anthology.1) "In the House of Seven Librarians" by Ellen Klages. First story in the book, starts off with amazing awesomeness, had high hopes for the rest of the book due to this story. 5 stars2) "The Books" by Kage Baker. Not quite as great as the first one, but VERY good. 4.5 stars.3) "Summer Reading" by Ken Liu. You will need a hanky or After doing the math, despite some REALLY blow your mind stories, it averaged out to 3.09 stars for me. The best, to find and read somewhere, if not from this anthology.1) "In the House of Seven Librarians" by Ellen Klages. First story in the book, starts off with amazing awesomeness, had high hopes for the rest of the book due to this story. 5 stars2) "The Books" by Kage Baker. Not quite as great as the first one, but VERY good. 4.5 stars.3) "Summer Reading" by Ken Liu. You will need a hanky or two for this one. So sweet. 5 stars.4) "The Inheritance of Barnabas Wilcox" by Sarah Monette. Spooky and while you knew where it was going, you were glad it went there. 4.5 stars.5) "The Midbury Lake Incident" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Sad, but hopeful. 4.5 stars.6) "In the Stacks" by Scott Lynch. Apparently I can only handle him in short story format, but this was really good. 4.5 stars.The ones to avoid.1) "Special Collections" by Norman Partridge. The only story I DNF'd in this entire volume, and that's saying a lot for a short story. It was HORRIBLE. No thank you, I don't want to read about a menage between a sociopathic murderer, a completely unstable female and a demon manifestation of Jack the Ripper, made out of grave worms. If that's your thing, then you will like this story. If not, avoid. No stars.2) "Magic for Beginners" by Kelly Link. It started off weird, got REALLY good, then the author left a Lady or the Tiger ending and I nearly rage-threw my eReader across the room. I wanted resolution and was given a tease. Nope! One star.I only listed the 4.5/5 and 0/1 star stories, but there were a LOT of middle of the road 2s and 3s. A few 4s as well, but I didn't want to list every story. Suffice it to say, this isn't a bad read. You have some amazing stories, some ok stories and some "I need to wash my brain and eyes with bleach" stories. It's a typical anthology. I will read other anthologies edited by this editor, she does have some taste and includes different types of stories that all are bound to enjoy at least a few of. I would recommend it. Three stars.My thanks to NetGalley and Diamond Book Distributors Prime Books for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.
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  • Marjolein
    June 12, 2017
    Full review to come!
  • Annamaria
    May 6, 2017
    DNF 8%. I just cannot get past the first story and the second one didn't pull me in either. The concept is quite unique an interesting but evidently not enough for me, and that cover is just... stunning!
  • Alex Sarll
    May 19, 2017
    Ah, the perils of the anthology on a single topic, in this case libraries: as a wise man once observed, stories with a twist can lose much of their impact if you read them in 50 Stories Where The Heroine Turns Out To Be A Vampire - and even when it’s not a matter of twists, diminishing returns can easily set in. Particularly if you have an advanced copy* with a ticking clock and are obliged to get through all 23 tales in a month or two. So for all that I love a good library, there were points he Ah, the perils of the anthology on a single topic, in this case libraries: as a wise man once observed, stories with a twist can lose much of their impact if you read them in 50 Stories Where The Heroine Turns Out To Be A Vampire - and even when it’s not a matter of twists, diminishing returns can easily set in. Particularly if you have an advanced copy* with a ticking clock and are obliged to get through all 23 tales in a month or two. So for all that I love a good library, there were points here at which I found myself sighing as yet another collection was lost or saved, hidden away or opened up. E.Saxey, whose work I've not encountered before, encapsulates it perfectly in the aptly titled 'The Librarian's Dilemma'; the nature of the job is that it's always a tension between access and preservation. That story switches back on itself several times within a fairly short piece, understanding that some moral questions are tricky but that doesn't mean others aren't easy; too many of the other pieces seemed too certain of too many answers, plumping uncomplicatedly for one or the other, ending in moments of resolution which made me think - really? Most particularly AC Wise’s ‘With Tales in Their Teeth, from the Mountain they Came’, in which the library at the story’s beginning seems too forbidding – but the new library praised in the conclusion is far too noisy for this particular Goldilocks. Still, I’ll forgive a certain amount for its orgy of the human books. Similarly, while Paula Guran’s introduction sometimes devolves into a mere list of Some Libraries In Genre Fiction, I can’t be too harsh on any such list which opens with James Branch Cabell’s incomparable Beyond Life, wherein can be found a library resembling but preceding and exceeding the one Lucien curates in The Sandman.There are certainly gems here. Ray Bradbury was always the master of evoking the sort of small American town I dream about inhabiting in another life, and his library story here gains points for the anthology by not being the obvious ‘Bright Phoenix’. Kelly Link, in what I think may be the book’s longest piece, uses a strange TV show about an otherworldly library as the anchor for a poignant tale of that teenage moment which seems most eternal precisely as it’s ending: "Now the five are inseparable, invincible. They imagine that life will always be like this - like a television show in eternal syndication - that they will always have each other. They use the same vocabulary. They borrow each other's books and music.” And Esther M Friesner's 'Death and the Librarian’ is just heartbreakingly beautiful and sad and uplifting all at once. *From Netgalley.
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  • Michael Cook
    March 25, 2017
    (2.5 out of 5)I ended up not really caring for this anthology. It's not bad, per say. But it's not really that good either. A few of the stories are nice, particularly the first one, "In the House of Seven Librarians", but the rest failed to leave any kind of real impression on me. The quality of the shorts varied greatly, some being much better than others. But overall, the anthology itself was a bit of a trek to get through. It wasn't as enjoyable as I'd hoped it would be. Perhaps some will en (2.5 out of 5)I ended up not really caring for this anthology. It's not bad, per say. But it's not really that good either. A few of the stories are nice, particularly the first one, "In the House of Seven Librarians", but the rest failed to leave any kind of real impression on me. The quality of the shorts varied greatly, some being much better than others. But overall, the anthology itself was a bit of a trek to get through. It wasn't as enjoyable as I'd hoped it would be. Perhaps some will enjoy it, perhaps the writing styles of many of the shorts just weren't my cup of tea. But I didn't much care for it. It's not bad, it's just forgettable.(I received a digital ARC of this book from Edelweiss in return for a fair review.)
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  • Katharine (Ventureadlaxre)
    May 14, 2017
    This anthology is made up of reprints, taking from other anthologies or magazines such as Uncanny and Subterranean, so some you may have come across before. Of these, I've already read the shorts by Elizabeth Bear, Kelly Link, Scott Lynch, and Tansy Rayner Roberts - but as these are my favourite authors I eagerly reached for the rest. After all, what better subject than libraries.Unfortunately I struggled with this anthology. Usually I love to review each story individually, but I didn't find my This anthology is made up of reprints, taking from other anthologies or magazines such as Uncanny and Subterranean, so some you may have come across before. Of these, I've already read the shorts by Elizabeth Bear, Kelly Link, Scott Lynch, and Tansy Rayner Roberts - but as these are my favourite authors I eagerly reached for the rest. After all, what better subject than libraries.Unfortunately I struggled with this anthology. Usually I love to review each story individually, but I didn't find myself able to have enough to discuss about each one. Please find following what I loved about a few of them. This is a steady anthology, one that has a beautiful cover and a few very excellent pieces in it, but unfortunately is not an easy collection to read through continuously (either in a week, or a few weeks).In the House of the Seven Librarians by Ellen KlagesIn a fitting start to the anthology we see a quaint proper library replaced with a new one that boasts proper fluorescent lighting and ergonomic chairs, and it's written with the kind of tone we can appreciate - a library isn't just a place with stacks of books, libraries that were our friends growing up are places of comfort - not sharp lines and electronics. Not all the books make it over, and for some reason the seven librarians remain in the old building also - and it's here they receive a late return. As we all know, late books require a fee to be paid, and this payment is quite odd indeed.This is quite a lovely short - a little bit magical and a little bit of old comfort you instantly wish you were one of the librarians in their quiet comfort, or the lucky little bundle of payment. Reading this one was an excellent start to the anthology, and is so lovely in such a gentle way that it beautifully sets the tone.The Books by Kage BakerI love the premise of this - just like how I loved it in Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - how in a not so distant future a rabble group of people travel the world to entertain and remind others of things so they can't be forgotten and lost to the ravages of time in a post-apocalyptic world.This one is an excellent piece to broaden the anthology out. We start with a safe library we've always found comfort in as children with Klages' story first, and then Baker takes us out into the big unknown, and shows how stories are our constant, and the one thing we can't do without - up there with food, water and shelter.In Libres by Elizabeth BearEuclavia has been instructed by her advisor that her thesis really needs another source. He recommends a full rare book, rather than a particular article, and this means she has to go to the library. To the Special Collections section in particular. And for this, she wants her oldest friend, Bucephalus, (a centaur) to come with her, as libraries are a cause for concern.They arrive, and the librarian they meet both recommends against it, and asks whether she's done anything to earn the ire of her advisor - slept with the tutor's spouse, etc. 'Any reason for him to want you dead?' is literally asked.This creates such a fantastic piece of work where librarians carry both sword and wand, and people like poor Eu who need to enter are instructed to bring a ball of twine, three days of food, a bedroll, no fire, no shoes on antique rugs, no pens (but pencil and notepaper are allowed)... though as a plus, there are first air and water stations wherever there are restrooms which is say, every five kilometers... however they all move around, so who knows, really.Brilliant through each part, and Bear, I want a full novel of this, please.Summer Reading by Ken Liu'After mankind had scattered to the stars like dandelion seeds, Earth was maintained as a museum overseen by robot curators.'We have CN-344315 as our protagonist. He last saw a human over five thousand years ago, but he still goes about his routine - just like our favourite Wall-e, and like him, he cares so much about what humans have left behind.This short story is endlessly quotable, like a lot of what Liu writes. 'Data only lives when it is constantly copied.' 'Books are long alive when they're read.' 'For books are seeds, and they grow in minds.'Beautiful.The Inheritance of Barnabas Wilcox by Sarah MonetteAs one can guess from the title, Barnabas Wilcox has passed away, and his inheritance involves a country house to his nephew. One of the stipulations being that his library catalogue of an astounding number of books be finished - only his nephew doesn't know where to begin, so he writes to a boy he knew in school - one he was never close with, but he's the only one he knows who to turn to. And as Booth is in awe of the now deceased antiquary Lucius Wilcox, he agrees. Like a good horror or murder mystery, the pieces slowly fall into place. The insane ramblings of the uncle. The abundance of a certain type of tree in the garden, and the horrid scratchings on the library door. I haven't yet read any of Monette's work but now I really, really want to. What Books Survive by Tansy Rayner RobertsLike some of the oldest and best fiction, space invaders have come. Now nothing electronic works, but as long as they stay behind their walls, the invaders seem to leave them pretty much alone. The only issue is that some houses have no or very few physical books, and along with half the houses (which means everyone has to squish in together), the shops, and the school (so now the town hall acts as the school also)... they left the library on the other side of the barricade. Something that 16yo Katie Marsden can't stand.This is such a fun and wonderful piece - kids with gumption, and it tackles the hard questions. Such as 'Should I pick books [to save] because of posterity and shit like that, or should I just be selfish and save the ones I wanted to read?' Personally I reckon save the ones you want to read - life is too short if invaders have come. Now Tansy is a fan of the kindle, as am I, but this certainly is a strong reason to be a fan of both mediums for sure. The Green Book by Amal El-MohtarThis is such a clever piece that the least said about it, the better. Even if you pick up this book and flick to Amal's section first - totally worth it. In the Stacks by Scott LynchAn old favourite. Fifth year exams for the High University of Hazar require the aspirants to enter the library and return with a library book. Simple, right?Well, the motto of the librarians here is: RETRIEVE. RETURN. SURVIVE. Dressed in armour, equipped with swords and years of training, four of them are there to take the test. As one of the thankfully longer pieces in this anthology, we get such a fun romp of a tale where you see so much of their whole world even though we mostly see their sprawling library alone. Another piece that demands a full novel or ten. The language and dialogue makes anything by Lynch such a joy to read. The descriptions, witty banter - in many awful moods I've picked up something by Lynch and felt better within minutes - if only it could be bottled. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Xia Jia, translated by Ken LiuAfter college, a young girl returns to where she grew up to work in the library her father ran - as it's always felt like home, and other people don't make much sense anyway. She's had a feeling that she's always been looking for something, and she finally finds it in a slim volume of poetry, that's part of a collection donated by a family clearing out their father's estate.This is a beautiful piece of work. 'It was still there, a slim volume squeezed between other books like a mysterious woman hiding in the attic.' Basically one can be assured that if Liu has translated it, then it's always going to be worth reading.
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  • Andreea Marin
    May 6, 2017
    See Full Review: https://infinitetext.blog/2017/05/06/...Paula Guran, the editor of this anthology, has compiled 24 short stories that have been previously published in Sci-fi and Fantasy magazines like Uncanny, and Clarkesworld which have at its core the topic of libraries and librarians. Some of the authors include Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Ray Bradbury, Ken Liu, and Xia Jia. These writers are contemporary giants in the Science Fiction and Fantasy community, and I was pleasantly surprised b See Full Review: https://infinitetext.blog/2017/05/06/...Paula Guran, the editor of this anthology, has compiled 24 short stories that have been previously published in Sci-fi and Fantasy magazines like Uncanny, and Clarkesworld which have at its core the topic of libraries and librarians. Some of the authors include Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Ray Bradbury, Ken Liu, and Xia Jia. These writers are contemporary giants in the Science Fiction and Fantasy community, and I was pleasantly surprised by the stories they wrote.What Paula Guran outlines in the introduction is that librarians in fiction tend to be unhappy or stereotyped, but since this is science fiction and fantasy, the librarians expand beyond that. She writes: “Science fiction and fantasy, is thank goodness, not ‘serious fiction’ (whatever that is). The troubled, gloomy librarian does, of course, occur in speculative fiction, but librarians are also characterized in many other ways.”She then explores libraries and librarians in sci-fi and fantasy works that have been published with the exception of the stories in this collection. She explores Borges’s Library of Babel, The Library of Dream in Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel series The Sandman, to Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library Novels, Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom Series, and even projections of future libraries like in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, to give just a few examples. I was so intrigued that for the first time, a discussion of librarians explored literature that entertained possibilities rather than capturing stereotypes. Guran provided me with a bibliography of the many books I must read with a library at its core (added to my TBR).I must admit that I read the Ray Bradbury story “Exchange” with a lot of passion—particularly since Bradbury is famously known for having been made a writer by the public library. He said in an interview with Sam Weller: “I graduated from the library when I was twenty-eight years old. So that’s why I’m here tonight—because I believe in libraries. They’re more important than universities. They’re more important than colleges. Libraries are the center of our lives.”My favourite story in this anthology however is “In the House of the Seven Librarians” by Ellen Kloges. It’s about a small child who is left at the doorstep of a library where seven librarians ‘live.’ Library space and time are explored in a way I have not yet encountered in literature. These are just a few lines that stayed with me: “Librarians are guardians of books. They help others along their paths, offering keys to help unlock the doors of knowledge.” “knowledge is not static; information must flow in order to live.” “Books were small comfort once the lights were out, and their hard, sharp corners made them awkward companions under the covers.” “time had become quite flexible inside the Library. (This is true of most places with interesting books. Sit down to read for twenty minutes, and suddenly it’s dark, with no clue as to where the hours have gone.)I recommend this book to everyone, particularly librarians, people who love libraries and book descriptions, and lovers of science fiction and fantasy.
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  • Ron
    June 13, 2017
    Do you like libraries? Or do you fear libraries/librarians? Do you know what actually happens in library stacks? Well, read this collection of previously published tales that all deal in one fashion or another with libraries or librarians and find out. The book opens with a child being raised by seven feral librarians and ends with a librarian destroying the future equivalent of the Internet to save the books from abuse. In between are tales of libraries helping save civilization, would-be-wizar Do you like libraries? Or do you fear libraries/librarians? Do you know what actually happens in library stacks? Well, read this collection of previously published tales that all deal in one fashion or another with libraries or librarians and find out. The book opens with a child being raised by seven feral librarians and ends with a librarian destroying the future equivalent of the Internet to save the books from abuse. In between are tales of libraries helping save civilization, would-be-wizards needing to return books to the shelves in a living magical library, haunted libraries, libraries that collect books to good for the present readership, and many more tales. Most of these tales I had not read before and really enjoyed being able to sit back and explore one of my favorite places, the library!
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  • Alexia Polasky
    July 14, 2017
    Thank you Netgalley and Damon Book Distributors for the ARC!Sci-Fi, Gothic, Mystery, Existential, you name it. This book touches on a variety of topics and genres, all revolving around the theme of books, libraries and librarians. A book that is alive, another acts as a philosopher's stone, a baby as payment for a late return, witches, authors living after their deaths through their books, and much more.Curious about my favorites? Find them in the full review3.5 stars.
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  • Laura
    June 5, 2017
    The anthology had a good variety of stories from science fiction and fantasy to the more mundane. There were quite a few of them that struck me as being slow moving even though they were short stories. There were some really good ones too though. There was a story where the adventure was in returning the book to the proper shelf/area in the archives. There were library monsters that fed on words. There was a classic Ray Bradbury story about a man visiting the library he spent so much time in in The anthology had a good variety of stories from science fiction and fantasy to the more mundane. There were quite a few of them that struck me as being slow moving even though they were short stories. There were some really good ones too though. There was a story where the adventure was in returning the book to the proper shelf/area in the archives. There were library monsters that fed on words. There was a classic Ray Bradbury story about a man visiting the library he spent so much time in in his youth. Another story was of a future where the Earth is maintained as a museum and a robot reads a story to a young girl. For me, I found that the further into the anthology I got, the better the stories seemed. Having worked in a library for a while and having been interested in becoming a librarian, I thought this book would be awesome. It was good, but not as good as some of the other books that Paula Guran has edited.I gave this book 3.5 stars out of 5. It was good, but not awesome. It has a nice variety of stories. There's pretty much something for everyone. But, there seemed to be several slow moving stories as well. I would recommend this book if you love libraries and librarians.Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. My review is freely given and solely my own opinions.
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  • Diana
    May 11, 2017
    Book received from Edelweiss.There were some really crazy stories in here, especially the one where they had to adventure through the library to get the book they wanted while hoping they weren't killed in the process. Each short story was a quick read and many of them I had to keep reading until they were finished, they were riveting. If you get a chance to pick up this short story anthology, definitely do it, it's worth it.
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  • GONZA
    June 4, 2017
    Short stories that involve library and librarians, some are good some not so much, best part in my opinion anyway is the introduction with the most famous fictional libraries.Brevi storie su librerie fantastiche e bibliotecari improbabili, alcune sono belle, altre un po' meno; comunque la parte migliore secondo me é l'introduzione con l'elenco di tutti i libri che hanno parlato di biblioteche.THANKS TO EDELWEISS FOR THE PREVIEW!
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  • Susan
    May 3, 2017
    Looking for something different to read? You've come to the right anthology! It is a book about libraries and librarians. The stories are fantastic! Many of the authors in this anthology are well known. It was a thrill for me to discover all these stories as I am a retired librarian. I've never read any of these before. Paula Guran did n excellent job of picking stories for this anthology. Don't miss it!Disclaimer: I received an arc of this book free from the author/publisher from Net-galley. I Looking for something different to read? You've come to the right anthology! It is a book about libraries and librarians. The stories are fantastic! Many of the authors in this anthology are well known. It was a thrill for me to discover all these stories as I am a retired librarian. I've never read any of these before. Paula Guran did n excellent job of picking stories for this anthology. Don't miss it!Disclaimer: I received an arc of this book free from the author/publisher from Net-galley. I was not obliged to write a favorable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.
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  • David Stringer
    April 28, 2017
    This is an interesting collection of short stories, connected by the theme of books, libraries or a little magic and mystery. The stories do range, as I'd guess you'd expect, in standard. One or two are quite interesting and absorbing making you want to keep an eye on that author, like the story 'In the House of Seven Librarians' however one or two are a little weak and require skipping! I have other books on my shelf that I'm looking forward to reading. The premise of this collection of stories This is an interesting collection of short stories, connected by the theme of books, libraries or a little magic and mystery. The stories do range, as I'd guess you'd expect, in standard. One or two are quite interesting and absorbing making you want to keep an eye on that author, like the story 'In the House of Seven Librarians' however one or two are a little weak and require skipping! I have other books on my shelf that I'm looking forward to reading. The premise of this collection of stories is good, us book lovers can't resist a good gripping story about a library or untold mysteries discovered in a book. The front cover definitely caught my eye! Love the artwork here, I just needed or wanted one or two stronger stories to be truly gripping. A rating of two stars from me, as it's ok. Could of been better.
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  • Jen Naughton
    March 28, 2017
    This collection of short story science fiction took me by surprise. The introduction which lists an overview of all famous libraries in literature was kind of long and I wasn't quite sure where this book was headed. After the first story, In the House of Seven Librarians, I was hooked. I would have loved if the entire novel just continued with that story. They got more magical and weird as I kept reading. It very much reminded me of Ray Bradbury and I think if he were alive now he would have bee This collection of short story science fiction took me by surprise. The introduction which lists an overview of all famous libraries in literature was kind of long and I wasn't quite sure where this book was headed. After the first story, In the House of Seven Librarians, I was hooked. I would have loved if the entire novel just continued with that story. They got more magical and weird as I kept reading. It very much reminded me of Ray Bradbury and I think if he were alive now he would have been thrilled with it. As an anthology, some stories were more interesting than others, but the so-so ones didn't stop me from finishing. I'm sure it helped that every story centered on books, libraries and book lore. My other favorite story involved an apocalyptic scenario where circus kids were forced to steal books from an abandoned library. All in all, I'd give it a B assuming that you are into SciFi/Fantasy. I'm labeling it YA and grown-up fiction.I read a DRC of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Ann
    April 24, 2017
    This is an unusual collection of short stories that have the theme of libraries and librarians. I particularly enjoyed the story of a baby left on the steps of the abandoned Carnegie Library. This book is a great read for book lovers. Many of the stories have the books come alive or effect the people around them. Several familiar authors and a few I've never heard of.
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