Reading saved me as a child, giving me a way to see the world outside the walls of my childhood home, offering me respite and escape from an often intolerable and hostile atmosphere. The public library in my small town in eastern Washington state became my sanctuary.
So it’s no surprise that I cherish books about books and libraries.
My most recent read, Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, propelled me to seek out even more books about libraries.
During that search, I discovered Bella Osborne’s The Library.
Osborne writes a lot of feel-good fiction that generally veers toward chick lit, not that there’s anything wrong with that, by no means. Despite this, I started reading The Library, but still with a few mental reservations.
To my surprise, I sank into the story immediately, just as I did with The Midnight Library.
The first sentence – “My name is Tom Harris and I am invisible.” – seemed to be a rather odd hook. But hook me it did. And so I got to know Tom, an awkward teenager who runs into Maggie, the other central character in the book. It turns out that Maggie is, shall we say, old enough to be Tom’s gran. The story unfolds somewhere in the UK, in a small village.
But Osborne’s telling of their meeting at the village library and the ensuing friendship between the young lad and the older female pensioner is anything but trite or sugary. No chick lit here.
I am not going to breathe another word about the trajectory of the story, but so taken was I with The Library‘s overarching themes of friendship and land ownership that I’ve sought out a few other uplifting books with farming in the mix.
I hear you, though.
“The farming part, that’s the food connection, right? I mean, after all, you do write about food, and it makes sense to fall for a book with farming overtones. Or does it?”
Yes, it does. There’s food, cooking, and eating in The Library, too. Roast chicken, for one. As well as the joy of seeing someone who’s hungry both eating and blooming because of the hospitality that comes with making food for others.
If you have a favorite book(s) about libraries or books, please share it(them) in the Comments section.
I look forward to hearing from you.
4 thoughts on “Another Stellar Book Set in a Library: Bella Osborne’s “The Library””
Dianne, your library sound slike a dreamy place. Thank you for sharing. I also like WWII-related books, mostly fiction, though.
Thanks, I have seen that book, but have never read it. Now I probably will! Thanks for mentioning it.
My little home town library was always cool and spotless. Two spinster librarians looked over their glasses at you as if they thought you were up to no good regardless if you were the town council’s daughter or a vagrant seeking a cool drink from the water fountain at the entry. In front of the check out desk was a small rack for the latest titles which I always looked over. My favorites were World War 2 true stories; growing up in the late 1940s I had recollections of servicemen and my uncles’ stories of their time in the US Army. Outside the library there was a well-tended fish pond and water feature with small goldfish. This area was tiled and had flowerbeds; an oasis in the hot summer. It is always the same after many years. In my new neighborhood in a huge city our library is highly inadequate, small, and grim in my opinion so I don’t venture in. Despite comments that our area’s population will soon increase by 30% due to new high rises, this issue hasn’t registered with those in power at the city government level. I have fond memories of the first library I just described!
For me, the obvious choice for a novel about a library is The Shadow of the Wind. It’s not surprising that the writer Carlos Ruiz Zafron also tried his hand at screenwriting.
The novel, about a boy who has to pick a book from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, uses lots of cliff-hanging, page-turning tricks to keep you hooked. And whether or not you like being manipulated by a soap opera of a book, it totally works.
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