Have you ever been stuck in a library overnight and then had a long conversation with a librarian the next day? What do you mean that’s never happened? Then how do you explain Sophie Divry’s debut book The Library of Unrequited Love? What do you mean it’s a novel? My life is a total lie.
In all seriousness, I came across this while roaming my library (people still do that, or am I getting old?) It seemed interesting, so I picked up. It’s actually quite an interesting read.
The really isn’t much of a plot here. Basically, you wake up in the stacks section of the library when a librarian tells you you’ve been sleeping there all night. Instead of just telling you to go home, she gives up a 90-page rant on what it’s like being a librarian and how bad her life is.
That’s it. No conflict, no major characters. Just a librarian talking directly to you for 90 pages.
Since I’ve never worked in a library I was only able to get about 70% of what Divry was trying to say. What I did get was something any book nerd would understand. From her rants about how people only use libraries for internet and free AC/heat, to how people today only really read comics. Not that there’s anything against comics (I have reviewed a few here,) it’s just you do need literature in your life.
What’s that? You only read what’s popular or what the airport newsstand sells? This book has an entire section on that too. It’s a wild ride to read a book nerd rant about such things in an actual book. It’s almost as if the book is talking to you.
Librarians will love this book because, hey, this is a librarian’s rant. Everything the librarian says in this book is spot on to what every librarian complains about.
Of course, since this is someone’s rant, the writing needs to be something phenomenal. This is something Divry excels at. The librarian’s voice is interesting to read, plus the content of what she says is interesting. She grabs your attention from the first word to the last. It’s a rarity that a rant can keep a reader’s attention for 90 pages.
The only downfall of this book is the librarian’s unhealthy obsession with a man she barely knows. It’s borderline creepy. Of course, there is a reason why it’s there; It’s to show another level of loneliness on the librarian’s part. It just comes off as creepy near the end, it creates a sort of cat lady vibe.
One thing that needs to be addressed here is the type of book itself. What exactly can you categorize it? This is one of those novels that are impossible to categorize. Basically, something publishers hate. Maclehose Press took a gamble bringing this book over to America and I can say this book does deserve more readers than what it has now. It is one of those experimental books that are actually interesting. And, no, there is no pretension here.
The Library of Unrequited Love is a fabulous librarian’s rant that took a chance and came out on top. Do yourself a favor and read this book. Afterward, give it to your favorite librarian. S/he will thank you in spades.