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Public Library and Other Stories (2015)

by Ali Smith

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4102154,377 (3.49)27
"Why are books so very powerful? What do the books we've read over our lives - our own personal libraries - make of us? What does the unravelling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us? The stories in Ali Smith's new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they coax us endlessly to unexpected blossom; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make." -- Book jacket.… (more)
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» See also 27 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Stunning book filled with stories of lost love, nature, art, music, books, wisdom, memory and family.

Alternating with true love testaments to the real human hunger and need for libraries; the minds and souls they nourish; the salvation they provide to the lost and searching which is all of us, whether we know it or not.

Public Library is brimming with outpourings of imagination, the beauty of the natural world that fortunately can be found in city parks. And just as nature and parks, grass, trees, flowers cultivate our senses and well-being, libraries with their books, stories, poems and access to data develop our minds and spirits, and improve our lives in both obvious and mysterious ways.

Very good read!
  Bookish59 | Jun 24, 2022 |
DNF. I liked How to Be Both but guess I don’t really enjoy much else by Ali Smith.
  Bruyere_C | Dec 2, 2021 |
Maybe because I wanted to love this, it didn't make my heart sing. I'm not sure if that is as I listened to it, many of the stories are in the first person, but listening to the author narrate them I was never quite sure if I was listening to fact or fiction. In between each story is a short piece by a variety of people on the importance of libraries to them. This is where I am in wholehearted agreement. Libraries are a vital escape, be that a short term escape within the covers of a book, or into the land of nod (as per one contributor's mother, who she observes having an afternoon snooze in a sunny spot in the library). Or they can be a long term escape from poverty. The only reason I am where I am now is that I had access to the library and to a huge range of reading material, which I devoured indiscriminately, like someone starving. Here I was exposed the the world in all its breadth and majesty and I have never recovered from the shock. We were never quite so poor as to be starving, but I do remember spending quite a lot of my childhood being hungry, in hand me down clothes. Even now, ask me what I want for a present and my first instinct is "books and clothes", Christmas and birthday being the only time I had any of those things. Your library is vital on so many different levels to so many different people. use it, even if you don't need to. ( )
1 vote Helenliz | Oct 8, 2021 |
Just like I often find books disappointing that have been heavily hyped, I'm sometimes delightfully surprised by books that come my way by fortunate serendipity. Public Library is one of these. It's a collection of first-person, often subtly book-themed short stories interspersed with testimonials the author gathered from various people about the role that public libraries have played in their lives in response to the drastic cuts to British library services that were made under austerity budgets of recent years. Both types of narrative pack an undeniably poignant punch, and the cumulative effect is dazzling. I hadn't heard of acclaimed Scottish author Ali Smith until I picked Public Library up at the Edinburgh Book Festival while on vacation. Her writing is fabulous, and I'm eager to get my hands on one of her novels next. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
Twelve short stories by Ali Smith, interwoven with short contributions by other writers on what libraries have meant to them over the courses of their careers. A great read, and an important reminder of the vital nature of libraries. ( )
  JBD1 | Oct 17, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
This same book in a stranger's hands, half-known.
Those readers kindred spirits, almost friends.
You are in transition; you are on the threshold.
The library is the place that gets you. Pure gold.
Jackie Kay
O magic place it was - still open thank God.
Alexandra Harris
Dedication
For Hazel Beamish and for Sarah Wood
First words
Here's a true story. Simon, my editor, and I had been meeting to talk about how to put together the book you're reading right now. We set off on a short walk across central London to his office to photocopy some stories I'd brought with me.
Just off Covent Garden we saw a building with the word LIBRARY above its doors.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

"Why are books so very powerful? What do the books we've read over our lives - our own personal libraries - make of us? What does the unravelling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us? The stories in Ali Smith's new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they coax us endlessly to unexpected blossom; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make." -- Book jacket.

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Book description
Why are books so very powerful? What do the books we've read over our lives--our own personal libraries--make of us? What does the unraveling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us? The stories in Ali Smith's new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make. Woven between the stories are conversations with writers and readers reflecting on the essential role that libraries have played in their lives. At a time when public libraries around the world face threats of cuts and closures, this collection stands as a work of literary activism--and as a wonderful read from one of our finest authors.-- Provided by publisher.

Contents (essays in italics):
Library -- Last

-- that beautiful new build -- Good voice -- opened by mark twain -- Beholder -- a clean, well-lighted place -- Poet -- the ideal model of society -- Human claim -- soon to be sold -- Ex-wife -- put a price on that -- Art of elsewhere -- on bleak house road -- After life -- curve tracing -- Definite article -- Grass -- the making of me -- Say I won't be there -- the infinite possibilities -- And so on.
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