See, Isn't Life Better with a Library Card? by Laura Raphael

Narcissism is generally not a good thing. Extreme selfishness, getting stuck in your own perspective, no empathy for others, etc.: bad.

But reading narcissism – i.e., reading novels that reflect your life or experience or profession or family or passion in some way – can be healthy. When you read about a character who, for example, spends his nights and weekends running long distances ( The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe), or is a high school English teacher trying to deal with a challenging student ( Saul and Patsy by Charles Baxter) and you are, yourself, a long-distance runner or high school English teacher, getting confirmation of that experience can be highly rewarding and, in therapy-speak, validating. It expands your consciousness because the individual stories point to a universalism that allows you to be more empathetic and, generally speaking, a better human being.

Funnily enough, when it comes to reading narcissism, LIBRARIANS ARE THE WORST. (Or, you know, the best, if you buy the above argument about expanding consciousness and so forth.)

In other words, we LOVE LOVE LOVE novels and mysteries and short stories and operas and comic books in which main or minor characters are librarians, or the setting is a library, or libraries are even briefly mentioned.

Indeed, there are entire web sites and blogs and all manner of other online shenanigans devoted to cataloging (*snerk*… a little librarian humor there for you) books with librarians as characters. Google it, if you dare.

With that in mind, here is my own personal list of favorite books (mostly novels), 10 to 1, with librarians as characters and/or libraries as settings:

10. The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

9. Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

8. The Inferno Collection by Jacqueline Seewald

7. The Archivist by Martha Cooley

6. Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett

5. The Librarian by Larry Beinhart

4. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

3. The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken

2. Mobile Library Mystery series by Ian Sansom

1. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

*This was recently overhead by a librarian colleague of mine, from one young man to his friend, after said friend applied for and received a library card. I’m not a tattoo kind of girl, but if I were, I’d have this prominently inked on my backside.


thanks i'll have to give that a look, been searching for similar books, nothing else seems as interesting :) well at least for right now.

Thank you for listing my novel as a favorite! Just want to mention that Harlequin Worldwide Mystery has now published all three of the Kim Reynolds librarian sleuth mysteries as inexpensive paperback reprints.They are respectively: THE INFERNO COLLECTION, THE DROWNING POOL and THE TRUTH SLEUTH.

Add new comment