On this cool-ish, bright sunny morning, I am enjoying a cup of tea and a bowl of fresh fruit before I head out to the library to return some items and pick up some of my “holds” that are now available. One of the items I’m returning is a little book that I thought I should write about now rather than waiting until the weekend, when I will have forgotten the details.
The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry, translated from the French by Siân Reynolds, is a hilarious little work that is sure to speak directly to anyone who has ever worked in a library. A middle-aged librarian arrives early to work one morning to find that a patron has been locked in her department, which is located in the basement, overnight. Rather than escorting him out, she carries on a one-sided conversation with him as she prepares to open for the day, ranting about everything from patrons who only want the bestsellers (“lowbrow trash”) to other librarians who have the best sections in the library (“French Literature and History”). She complains that no one ever notices her, and confides in this mystery patron her unrequited love for Martin, a graduate student who comes to the library to work on his thesis, and whom she suspects has a girlfriend (“his blond”). She extols the virtues of libraries, and laments the turn they have taken to appeal to the masses. She sees them as being a place that contributes to the reader’s culture, that librarians need to make discerning selections from the mass of publications that are available at any given time. She notes that most readers don’t come to the library “for the good of their souls”, but to take out DVDs or CDs, to take advantage of the air conditioning, or even to meet someone. This little book spoke to me and I laughed aloud as I read the rantings of this old-school librarian, because I identified with her in so many ways, sharing her views even as I recognized how ridiculous they were. She embodied all the characteristics of a stereotypical spinster librarian, and her rantings were both hilarious and very real. I read a few pages aloud to my husband, and laughed even harder than when I read it silently to myself. I found this book on the public library “New” shelf, and picked it up just for fun. It was not for a book review, or for a book club, or for my committee - it was a book just for me! I must commend the translator, too - the text of this short book flowed naturally, just as one would expect a lengthy rant from a disillusioned yet passionate person to be. It was a delight to read, and I would recommend it to anyone who has ever worked at or been a patron of a public library. At less than 100 pages, it requires a small investment of time for a tremendous amount of entertainment.
Now I must head out to enjoy this glorious day. Happy Reading!
Bye for now…
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