Title: The Library of Unrequited Love
Author: Sophie Divry
Publication date: February 14, 2013
Publisher: Maclehose Press (Quercus)
Length: 91 pages
Age group: Adult
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Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository
One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight. She begins to talk to him, a one-way conversation full of sharp insight and quiet outrage.
As she rails against snobbish senior colleagues, an ungrateful and ignorant public, the strictures of the Dewey Decimal System and the sinister expansionist conspiracies of the books themselves, two things shine through: her unrequited passion for a researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love for the arts.
A delightful divertissement for the discerning bookworm…
Sophie Divry’s The Library of Unrequited Love is very a short story you can easily devour, from cover to cover, in one sitting. I’ll be totally honest here: it’s been a while since I finished reading it and I still don’t know what to make of this book. What I know for certain is that it’s unlike anything I’ve read before.
Firstly, the book doesn’t have any chapters or any kind of divisions at all. None. Nada. I know it’s a short book but if you don’t have enough time to read it in one sitting and you also happen to have a weird habit of reading to the end of a chapter before setting your book aside (like me), it might make you feel a bit uneasy. Another thing that was completely new for me is narration. It’s basically a one-way conversation between the librarian and a reader who has been locked in the library’s basement overnight. We know nothing about the reader – not even his or her name or whether s/he’s a man or a woman. Everything we know comes from the librarian’s monologue, which is definitely one of the things that make this book unique and unlike any other. But again, I still wasn’t a hundred percent sure what to make of it. I love how we gradually get to know our narrator and what type of person she is and I found myself smirking (or occasionally nodding) at some of her remarks. Perhaps one of the things I loved the most about this book is how the narrator talks about reading and how she describes what it means to her. She says, “I prefer the company of books. When I’m reading, I’m never alone, I have a conversation with the book. It can be very intimate. Perhaps you know this feeling yourself? [...] When I’m reading, I can forget everything, sometimes I don’t even hear the phone.” And I’m sure it’s something all of us bookworms can agree with, something we all go through on a daily basis. At the same time, I would’ve liked to know a bit more about the reader and see what s/he makes of all this or how s/he reacts to some of our librarian’s observations.
If you like short stories and the lack of chapters don’t bother you, I would say go for it and give it a try. It might not have been my favourite book of the month but it was an interesting read all the same and I know for a fact that book lovers will find many of its aspects easily relatable.
“Wake up! What are you doing lying there?
The library doesn’t open for another two hours, you shouldn’t be here at all. If it isn’t the limit! Now they’ve started locking readers into my basement. Honestly, there’s no end to what I have to put up with. No, no point shouting, it’s not my fault. But I know who you are, you know your way round the library. You mooch about this place all day, so sooner or later you were bound to end up staying the night here.“