I subscribe to two email newsletters from The Seattle Public Library. I follow Shelf Talk, our library’s official blog. I know two retired Seattle Public Library employees. So, finding “a book recommended by a librarian” was a cinch for me.
Late last December, I read a post on Shelf Talk entitled Bus Reads: December. In it, the author of the post, Kara, recommended a book named The Library of Unrequited Love. It’s a book about a librarian, in a library, recommended by a librarian. It seemed so perfect that I put the book on my “For Later” shelf, and stopped searching for any more books to fit this Category.
La cote 400, by Sophie Divry, was published in France in 2010. It was published in the USA in 2015, translated by Siân Reynolds as The Library of Unrequited Love.
Two hours before a small, municipal library is scheduled to open, a librarian discovers that a man had been locked inside the library overnight. Since opening the doors early would involve contacting Security, the librarian offers the man coffee, requests his help in finding a misplaced book, and talks to him until the library opens.
The librarian talks about her job (comparing working in a library to working in a factory), about the Dewey Decimal System, and about her honest feelings about the library patrons. She talks about the hierarchy of library employees: French Literature staff are the blue-blood aristocracy, Philosophy and Religion are high society, CDs and DVDs are the nouveaux riche, and so on. The librarian works in Geography (the proletariat) and is hoping to work her way up to History. She talks a lot about history.
The librarian comes across as a misanthrope and a pessimist.
She also talks about a secret crush she has on a young researcher named Martin. The librarian considers herself an invisible woman, however.
The Library of Unrequited Love is a tiny book. It’s 93 pages long, with pages only as tall as my hand. The book is one continuous paragraph. There’s no plot. It’s one, two-hour monologue (which is how long it took me to read it). It shows the responses the librarian gives to the man’s comments, but not the man’s comments. I never learned anything about the man at all.
I imagine that librarians could relate to this book. For me, it was amusing and offered some insight into this profession. It enjoyed reading it, but I didn’t quite love it. I wanted more from it – more story, more variety.
- A book recommended by a librarian