What You Are Looking For Is in the Library

Hanover Square. Sept. 2023. 304p. tr. from Japanese by Alison Watts. ISBN 9781335005625. $21.99. F
Originally published in Japan in 2020, this best-selling novel has been translated into over 20 languages. Set around a local community center near an elementary school, each of the five chapters is narrated in first person and describe how a librarian, Sayuri Komachi, comes to transform the narrator’s life. After each reference interview, Komachi presents a list of book recommendations, plus a random felted object that she has made (a frying pan, a cat, a globe, a plane, a crab). The magical part of each story is how these objects perfectly tie in with each patron’s outcome and how every booklist includes a title that seems a bit out of sync with the original query but comes to play a big part in helping patrons find what they are looking for.
VERDICT Aoyama’s story is reminiscent of positively told stories, which could be made into an episode of The Twilight Zone, with the librarian as the main protagonist working her magic in each encounter. The storytelling is engaging, much like Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman, making this book a fast read. Bibliophiles and book groups looking for a feel-good story will certainly find it here.
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