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Libraries & Librarians in Literature for Adults

Libraries are all about books. And sometimes books are about libraries too! Enjoy these fiction and nonfiction titles for adults about libraries, librarians, and bookstores.

For more stories about libraries and librarians, check out these other lists:

Find more reading suggestions at Books & More.

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People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

In 1996, Hanna Heath, a young Australian book conservator is called to analyze the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless six-hundred-year-old Jewish prayer book that has been salvaged from a destroyed Bosnian library. When Hanna discovers a series of artifacts in the centuries' old, she unwittingly exposes an international cover up.

Fiction 2008

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The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened. After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story.

Fiction 2015

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The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer

Describes how a group of Timbuktu librarians enacted a daring plan to smuggle the city's great collection of rare Islamic manuscripts away from the threat of desctuction at the hands of Al Quaeda militants to the safety of southern Mali.

Nonfiction 2016

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The Meaning of a Library: A Cultural History by Alice Crawford

Tracing what the library has meant since its beginning, examining how its significance has shifted, and pondering its importance in the twenty-first century. The Librarian of Congress and the former executive director of the HathiTrust contribute accounts to present a cultural history of the library.

Nonfiction 2015

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I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan

From a patron's missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, Sheridan showcases the oddities that have come across her circulation desk: encounters with local eccentrics; bizarre reference requests; and heart-warming stories of patrons who roam the stacks every day.

Nonfiction 2014

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The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne

The public librarian author shares his inspiring story as a Mormon youth with Tourette's Syndrome who, after a sequence of radical and ineffective treatments, overcame nightmarish tics through education, military service, and strength training.

Nonfiction 2013

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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

When his wife dies and his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, depressed bookstore owner A.J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

Fiction 2014

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

A boy named Daniel selects a novel from a library of rare books, enjoying it so much that he searches for the rest of the author's works, only to discover that someone is destroying every book the author has ever written.

Fiction 2004

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The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

Obliged to borrow a book when her corgis stray into a mobile library, the Queen of England discovers a passion for reading, setting the palace upon its head and causing the her to question her role in the monarchy.

Fiction 2007

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Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

Borchert, a former library worker in an unnamed California public library system, reveals the oddities, absurdities and day to day craziness in a place known for its quiet -- the public library.

Nonfiction 2007

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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Yale historian and reluctant witch Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, attracting the attention of other witches, daemons, and vampires, including 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont.

Fiction 2011

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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Passionately in love, Clare, an art student, and Henry, a handsome librarian, vow to hold onto each other and their marriage as they struggle with the effects of Chrono-Displacement Disorder, a condition that casts Henry involuntarily into the world of time travel.

Fiction 2003

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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret. A mysterious bookstore, a secret society, hidden codes, and the power of Google are all in one book!

Fiction 2012

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Large Print: An Unshelved Collection by Gene Ambaum

Want to know what librarians find funny about their jobs? Hilarious experiences abound at the public library in this collection of the hugely popular Web comic "Unshelved."

Comics 2010

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Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg

The subtitle says it all! In this captivating memoir, Steinberg, a Harvard grad and struggling obituary writer, spends two years as a librarian and writing instructor at a Boston prison, attracting con men, minor prophets, ghosts, and an assortment of quirky regulars searching for the perfect book and a connection to the outside world.

Nonfiction 2010

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In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians

Noted librarian Michael Cart has assembled the cream of twentieth century short fiction about libraries and librarians. They range from such classics as Isaac Babel's "The Public Library" to Jorge Luis Borges's tale about a library stretching into infinity ("The Library of Babel"), to such contemporary masters as Ray Bradbury, Alice Munro, Nikki Giovanni, and others. Lunacy, love, obsession and the joy of reading are all gathered together in one volume.

Short Stories 2002

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The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma

Named for two literary characters ("Alice" from Lewis Carroll and "Ozma" from L. Frank Baum), the author is the daughter of a Philadelphia-area elementary school librarian who embarked on a streak of father-daughter reading-out-loud sessions every night before bed as Ozma was growing up--a "streak" that would continue for eight years straight.

Nonfiction 2011