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Set among the stacks: Four enchanting novels for bibliophiles

Set among the stacks: Four enchanting novels for bibliophiles

Book lovers and libraries naturally go together. That’s why such a large number of novels written each year are set in these palaces of learning. Four recent outstanding works of fiction look inside these mighty institutions to celebrate the joy of books, the inspirational power of storytelling, and the ways that library communities can uplift lives. 

In Janet Skeslien Charles’ stirring World War II-era novel, “The Paris Library,” the high stakes underscore the power of books: “No other thing possesses that mystical faculty to make people see with other people’s eyes. The Library is a bridge of books between cultures,” she writes.

Why We Wrote This

Why do we love libraries? They are places of refuge, learning, and personal discovery. But their most vital role may be in the building of community, as explored in four captivating novels.

From the ancient Greek Athenaeum to your cozy local reading room, libraries have long served as a refuge for longtime book lovers and new readers alike. But a place to borrow books is just the beginning – for many people, a library is a place of opportunity, learning, and self-discovery.

“Libraries of all kinds are key to the vitality of communities,” according to Patty Wong, president of the American Library Association. “If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that America’s libraries are nimble enough to meet changing local needs and foster community resilience.” 

The keepers of these libraries are often unsung heroes who deserve praise. Four recent outstanding novels look inside these mighty institutions to celebrate the joy of books, the inspirational power of storytelling, and the ways that library communities can uplift lives.

Berkley, William Morrow, Atria Books, and Viking

Why We Wrote This

Why do we love libraries? They are places of refuge, learning, and personal discovery. But their most vital role may be in the building of community, as explored in four captivating novels.

A righteous fight

Freya Sampson’s winsome novel, “The Last Chance Library,” takes place in a small English village, where the local Chalcot Library is about to lose its funding. June Jones, a shy and lonely 20-something library assistant (and daughter of the town’s late legendary librarian) finds blessings in believing in herself, as she takes on the task of fighting to keep the library open with the help of a host of quirky co-workers and library patrons. From Stanley Phelps, a kindly fan of World War II novels who practically lives in the library, to an array of townsfolk, June finds a sense of family in friendships she never knew she could have.

“Libraries aren’t just about books,” our narrator reminds us. “They’re places where an eight-year-old boy can have his eyes opened up to the wonders of the world, and where a lonely eighty-year-old woman can come for some vital human contact. Where a teenager can find precious quiet space to do her homework and a recently arrived immigrant can find a new community.”

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