More Than Words on Paper
Wrap up the year with tales that celebrate the power of books, bookstores, and libraries.
Start with Michiko Aoyama’s internationally acclaimed bestseller, “What you are looking for is in the library,” a sweet and wise novel that has been read in over 15 languages and recently translated into English.
Meet five endearing characters, each navigating a distinct stage of life. Aoyama’s subtle and tenderly drawn portraits illuminate the imperfections in their lives and have readers rooting for them from the start.
Chance encounters with Mrs. Komashi, an enigmatic librarian at a local community center library, move the characters in surprising new directions. Through her unconventional reading recommendations, each character discovers new purpose, friends, and even love, as well as a common understanding that they can find what they seek by “pulling on the invisible threads of connections.”
The novel underscores the community that libraries create beyond the power of the books they house. Its simple messages — people can surprise you; civility and kindness matter; and one should seize opportunities — resonate. As a transformed narrator offers, “Instead of saying ‘maybe one day,’ say “one day is going to become tomorrow.”
In their 2012 collaborative work “My Ideal Bookshelf”, Thessaly La Force, editor, and Jane Mount, illustrator, explore the influence of great books. They ask 100 leading cultural figures, including luminaries such as Alice Waters, Malcolm Gladwell, and Judd Apatow, to share the books that played a pivotal role in shaping their dreams and aspirations. Their central premise is that our bookshelves, and the books we choose to display, are an expression of “who we are and how we see ourselves.”
Each contributor names their favorite books and essays to explain why they have special meaning for them. Readers will be encouraged to reflect on their own ideal bookshelves – and the books that have left a mark on their lives. Bibliophiles will enjoy perusing this sentimental and visually engaging book.
Another feel-good read for book lovers is “The Lost Bookshop” by Evie Woods. This heartwarming story unfolds on a small Dublin street, where a magical bookshop becomes the focal point of a tale that blends historical fiction, magical realism, and a bit of romance.
The narrative weaves a dual timeline, introducing us to three strangers whose lives intersect. Opaline, escaping her wealthy oppressive family in 1921, seeks solace within a bookshop. Present-day Martha, grappling with insecurity and fleeing abuse, finds herself employed as a housekeeper in a peculiar townhouse. Simultaneously, Henry, a young academic, obsessively searches for a missing manuscript tied to a vanished bookshop.
As the characters embark on a journey to unearth the secrets of the mysterious lost bookshop, they each find a path to self-discovery. In the words of Martha, “the thing about books is – books help you to imagine a life bigger and better than you could ever dream of.”
“The Lost Bookshop” is a celebration of the enduring spirit of the independent bookstore and the transformative magic inherent in books. In the Author’s Note, Woods shares her reflections on the impact of growing up in a world of books and what inspired her: “Books are more than words on paper; they were portals to other places, other lives.”