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The Library Book

by The Reading Agency (Charity)

Other authors: Anita Anand (Contributor), Julian Barnes (Contributor), Bella Bathurst (Contributor), Alan Bennett (Contributor), Michael Brooks (Contributor)20 more, James Brown (Contributor), Ann Cleeves (Contributor), Stephen Fry (Contributor), Seth Godin (Contributor), Rebecca Gray (Foreword), Susan Hill (Contributor), Tom Holland (Contributor), Hardeep Singh Kohli (Contributor), Lucy Mangan (Contributor), Val McDermid (Contributor), Miranda McKearney (Afterword), China Miéville (Contributor), Caitlin Moran (Contributor), Kate Mosse (Contributor), Julie Myerson (Contributor), Bali Rai (Contributor), Lionel Shriver (Contributor), Karin Slaughter (Contributor), Zadie Smith (Contributor), Nicky Wire (Contributor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3471461,430 (3.6)148
From Alan Bennett's Baffled at a Bookcase, to Lucy Mangan's Ten Library Rules, famous writers tell us all about how libraries are used and why they're important. Tom Holland writes about libraries in the ancient world, while Seth Godin describes what a library will look like in 2020. Lionel Shriver thinks books are the best investment, Hardeep Singh Kohli makes a confession and Julie Myerson remembers how her career began beside the shelves. Using memoir, history, polemic and some short stories too, The Library Book celebrates 'that place where they lend you books for free' and the people who work there. All royalties go to The Reading Agency, to help their work supporting libraries.… (more)

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English (13)  Spanish (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
I love going into my local library! I get something from being there that I don’t get anywhere else. All the contributors in this book feel the same way. Libraries are special places and if you think so too you’ll enjoy this lovely book about what makes them so special. ( )
  Fliss88 | May 25, 2021 |
An interesting little book full of essays on what libraries have meant to the writers. A varied collection of authors, some well known, others not, but all very much appreciate libraries. It was a lifeline for many, escaping from home, poverty, ...
A good read. ( )
  GeoffSC | Jul 25, 2020 |
This is a book published by the reading agency, as an eulogy to the institution that is the public library system. All the authors in this book are fans of libraries, either because they have fond memories of them as children, or they were pivotal in their life. It has a couple of fictional extracts, and the remainder are essays on the reason that we cannot let national government abolish these essential parts of the community.

I am a complete library addict. I see them as a free bookshop, and normally visit once a week. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
The Library Book was published to support The Reading Agency, whose website describes itself as "a charity whose mission is to inspire more people to read more, encourage them to share their enjoyment of reading and celebrate the difference that reading makes to all our lives." Rebecca Gray, author of the foreward, along with her colleague "John" appear to be the editors for the volume, although no formal attribution statement is made. The book consists primarily of essays written by various authors championing libraries and reading. A couple of selections were excerpted from published works, including a a fictional one in the case of China Mieville's contribution. My favorite contribution was Val McDermid's "Going to the Dogs." It described her experiences with libraries over the years, providing insight into why she chose the mystery genre. I'll let you read the essay to find out why she entitled her essay as she did. My next favorite was "Libraries Rock!" by Ann Cleeves. While her essay was different in nature, I found it to be written with a great deal of thought. In contrast, one or two of the contributions seemed to be written in haste and unedited, even by the author. It's a book those of us who love books and libraries should love, but it really encourages support for both reading and libraries. ( )
  thornton37814 | Aug 2, 2018 |
£0.99 until Jun 7, 2012 in UK Kindle Jubilee Sale. Worth every penny.

People should read this for [a:Stephen Fry|10917|Stephen Fry|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1208721007p2/10917.jpg], [a:Karin Slaughter|12504|Karin Slaughter|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1202439539p2/12504.jpg] and [a:Julian Barnes|1462|Julian Barnes|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1242364645p2/1462.jpg]'s contributions, as these alone should convince EVERYONE, even cynical politicians, to preserve every single library, no matter how small. If you value books and are worried about their future, then this is a must read.

The Library Book is filled with essays, stories and autobiographical pieces by a range of authors and journalists from different backgrounds about the importance of libraries in the past, present (2012) and future. The proceeds of this book go to The Reading Agency, a UK charity which runs reading programmes in libraries, so even though it advocates using and preserving libraries, buying this will also have a beneficial effect.

Foreword by Rebecca Gray & Afterword: The Reading Agency by Miranda McKearney

This Place Will Lend You Books For Free by James Brown 4★
As this dude says "it's cheaper than Amazon." In my case, I spent £0.99 buying the Kindle edition and my library would've charged £0.70 to reserve the dead tree edition so for me this was true.

Character Building by Anita Anand 2★
Anand recalls herself as a voracious reader as a child, leaning to one side as she struggled to carry home piles of books.

The Defence of the Book by [a:Julian Barnes|1462|Julian Barnes|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1242364645p2/1462.jpg] 5★
A previously unseen extract from [b:England, England|100893|England, England|Julian Barnes|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171471355s/100893.jpg|2078781]. *adds to shelf*
A dystopian view of future England and the role of the library. Having dead tree books makes it harder to control the truth whereas with a few clicks digital information can be distorted. Could've done without this cliffhangering mid-sentence though. I wanna know the rest!

The Punk and the Langside Library by Hardeep Singh Koli 2★
This personal experience shows the diverseness of the people that use and intermingle inside the walls of libraries and how it strengthens communities.

The Rules by [a:Lucy Mangan|807148|Lucy Mangan|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg] 4★
A charmingly funny list of rules in Mangan's library.

Baffled at a Bookcase by [a:Alan Bennett|11781|Alan Bennett|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1234747177p2/11781.jpg] 1★ [unfinished]
Tedious and over-long, I lost interest.

The Future of the Library by [a:Seth Godin|1791|Seth Godin|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1244929769p2/1791.jpg] 5★
I'd love to see Godin's ideas come to fruition on libraries teaching how to find and use information efficiently rather than just being repositories, encouraging a far more active role in communities.

Going to the Dogs by [a:Val McDermid|5672|Val McDermid|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1241725522p2/5672.jpg] 3★
Ah, the ingenuity of children. In order gain access to the world of adult books the young McDermid tells the librarians her mother is bedridden and must supply her with books. They fall for it -hook, line and sinker.

I ❤ Libraries by [a:Lionel Shriver|45922|Lionel Shriver|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1332800238p2/45922.jpg] 4★
Shriver argues libraries support publishers and writers when unless something is a bestseller a book may only remain on shelves for 6 weeks after release, and publishers refuse to keep backlists in print. She concludes with: 'I am bequeathing whatever modest estate I accumulate by my death to the Belfast Library Board.' I respect her reasons for doing this. Kudos.

Have You Heard of Oscar Wilde? by [a:Stephen Fry|10917|Stephen Fry|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1208721007p2/10917.jpg] 5★
Amazing. People should get this book just for this. The autobiographical piece explains so much about this man and his obsession with Oscar Wilde, his idol. (He even plays him in the movie, Wilde.) This is incredibly moving and inspiring, and exactly why access to books is so important.

The Secret Life of Libraries by [a:Bella Bathurst|151173|Bella Bathurst|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg] 4★
Interested in the miscellaneous oddities of libraries? What people choose to do in them other than the obvious? This is for you. They can be more licentious places than the stuffy, church-like atmosphere suggests. Very interesting.

The Booksteps by [a:China Miéville|33918|China Miéville|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1243988363p2/33918.jpg] 2★
An extract from [b:Un Lun Dun|68496|Un Lun Dun|China Miéville|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170692699s/68496.jpg|2959401].
A strange children's story of a crossover from real London to the mirror world of UnLondon.

Alma Mater by [a:Caitlin Moran|939363|Caitlin Moran|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-F-50x66.jpg] 3★
Moran argues that once you close libraries they will be too costly to reopen when things get better. So once they're gone, they're gone forever: 'Libraries that stayed open during the Blitz will be closed by budgets.'

The Library of Babylon by [a:Tom Holland|52292|Tom Holland|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1223405186p2/52292.jpg] 3★
I skimmed this one a bit but it details the historical significance of libraries in the ancient world and how they were symbols of great power for many rulers: 'Knowledge was power - and power was barely worth having without knowledge.'

A Corner St James's by [a:Susan Hill|18874|Susan Hill|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1337917448p2/18874.jpg] 1★
Apparently she met [a:E.M. Forster|2103|E.M. Forster|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1185594534p2/2103.jpg] and [a:T.S. Eliot|18540|T.S. Eliot|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1203003844p2/18540.jpg] but that's all I remember about this one.

It Takes a Library... by [a:Michael Brooks|125550|Michael Brooks|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg] 1★ [unfinished]
Lost interest.

The Magic Threshold by [a:Bali Rai|127331|Bali Rai|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-M-50x66.jpg] 1★
Not that interesting. Best quote: 'Technology has its place, but it would not even exist without books and libraries.'

Libraries Rock! by [a:Ann Cleeves|56067|Ann Cleeves|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1262915904p2/56067.jpg] 2★
The end of this piece is excellent: 'And if libraries don't support these writers, publishers won't commission them. Without money, libraries are tempted to buy what is certain to issue - and that's the material that you can find in every supermarket, the bestsellers, the easily promoted. Libraries aren't supermarkets; they're places of cultural importance, where magic happens and where dreams begin.'

The Five-Minute Rule by [a:Julie Myerson|400779|Julie Myerson|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-F-50x66.jpg] 3★
About the role the library played as a child when Myerson was an exuberant young writer, plus some tips on how to get started.

If You Tolerate This... by Nicky Wire 2★
Nicky Wire as interviewed by Robin Turner for The Guardian
Wire's answer to the plight of libraries: 'higher taxation of wealthiest 10% of the country.'

Library Life by [a:Zadie Smith|2522|Zadie Smith|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1241800089p2/2522.jpg] 2★
Smith believes this shameful government is trying to hand off the burden of building and maintaining of infrastructure (like libraries and schools) to the people with the invention of the 'Big Society' so they're free to nationalise and save the private sector.

The Lending Library by [a:Kate Mosse|9343|Kate Mosse|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1204646272p2/9343.jpg] 1★ [unfinished]
I gave up on this one. I think it was a supernatural murder mystery set in the 1950s involving a library but my attention wandered. It was also longer than most of the other pieces.

Fight for Libraries as You Do Freedom by [a:Karin Slaughter|12504|Karin Slaughter|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1202439539p2/12504.jpg] 5★
A powerful, passionate and well-researched essay by an internationally bestselling author all ready proactive in the fight to save libraries by founding the 'Save the Libraries' project which has so far raised $100k. I wholeheartedly agreed with her hard-hitting and direct arguments. I must read this author.

I have no idea what my average rating of these pieces is but I do believe this is an important, timely book. It depicts the current crisis, gives us the historical importance of libraries, divulges a broad range of positive life-changing personal experiences with libraries and the negative effects should libraries go into decline, and presents the need for libraries to evolve and stay up-to-date. ( )
1 vote Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
The Reading AgencyCharityprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anand, AnitaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barnes, JulianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bathurst, BellaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bennett, AlanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brooks, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cleeves, AnnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fry, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Godin, SethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gray, RebeccaForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hill, SusanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holland, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kohli, Hardeep SinghContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mangan, LucyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McDermid, ValContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKearney, MirandaAfterwordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Miéville, ChinaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moran, CaitlinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mosse, KateContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Myerson, JulieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rai, BaliContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shriver, LionelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Slaughter, KarinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, ZadieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wire, NickyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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The Library Book began with a simple idea; to celebrate libraries.
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From Alan Bennett's Baffled at a Bookcase, to Lucy Mangan's Ten Library Rules, famous writers tell us all about how libraries are used and why they're important. Tom Holland writes about libraries in the ancient world, while Seth Godin describes what a library will look like in 2020. Lionel Shriver thinks books are the best investment, Hardeep Singh Kohli makes a confession and Julie Myerson remembers how her career began beside the shelves. Using memoir, history, polemic and some short stories too, The Library Book celebrates 'that place where they lend you books for free' and the people who work there. All royalties go to The Reading Agency, to help their work supporting libraries.

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