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Summer Reading: Novels Featuring Librarians

As summer finally approaches the Dewey Library thought it would be great to highlight some fiction that features yours truly, the librarian, as a central character. These books can be picked up physically at your local library or downloaded onto your e-reader.

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The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004.

Audrey Niffenegger’s novel bucks the librarian-as-protagonist trend by not only featuring a male lead but by also being immensely popular. The 2.5 million-copy seller is a love story centered around a man who involuntarily time travels while his wife attempts to deal with the aftermath. The interesting narrative structure is the perfect backdrop for a lazy summer afternoon.


The Archivist by Martha Cooley. Boston: Little Brown, 1998

T.S. Eliot’s unopened letters to Emily Hale have been sitting in the Firestone Library at Princeton University for over 50 years. In less than six years, January 1st 2020, the letters will be opened. In the meantime we can all read this fictionalized account of events surrounding the letters. The story focuses around the archivist Matthias Lane and a graduate student, Roberta Spire. Throughout the course of the book the pair recount their past and posit toward the future as they decide whether or not to open the forbidden box of letters.

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Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989 

One of Sinclair Lewis’ most popular novels, Main Street, centers on Carol Kennicott. Our protagonist is a librarian who moves away from the city and into a much quieter setting. Unhappy with the new environment, Carol attempts to incorporate cosmopolitan elements into her small-town world and makes a fool of herself in the process. The satirical text was written during a time when Americans were moving towards life in more “wholesome” towns and can be picked up at a number of local libraries.

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Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg. New York: Anchor Books, 2011.

This memoir encapsulates a Harvard graduate’s move from an Ivy League school into the depths of a Boston prison. Steinberg begins his tale as a graduate out of work and searching for a meaningful occupation. The reader follows Avi as he transitions between freelance stints into the Craigslist-posted job of a prison librarian. The author uses anecdotes and descriptions of jailhouse soap operas to eleoquently transcribe how the Public Library still matters for every member of a community - a place where all people can exchange ideas regardless of age, race or socioeconomic status.

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The Librarian from the Black Lagoon written by Mike Thaler and illustrated by Jared Lee. New York: Cartwheel Books, 2008.

As we look towards the end of the semester it’s worthwhile to remember how intimidating the first few days of graduate school felt. This illustrated book reminds us of how much we have in common with our younger relatives by centering on a student’s first day of school. Our protagonist Hubie envisions his first visit to a library as treacherous, a place where broken rules are punishable in the most extreme ways. It isn’t until after he meets the librarian that Hubie realizes the endless possibilities contained in his school library. This is a fun title to read to elementary students that not only entertains but also dispels popular myths about their local library.


Blog post created by Mark Seabury