Literature from Librarians: Great Reads Written by the Experts
Hemlock and After
This is a unique reading list - these books were all written by librarians and most of them were recommended to us by librarians. If any profession is well qualified to write books then librarians truly fit the bill.
Librarians are loyal customers of AbeBooks and we tend to listen when they speak. But it was interesting to see so many librarians recommend Casanova's autobiography - were they trying to tell us something? This famous Italian adventurer and lover was a librarian in the household of the German nobleman Count Waldstein.
The authors on this list range from the top dogs at the Library of Congress to folks who have worked at the national libraries of Argentina, France and Sweden, and people who have checked books in and out at public and school libraries.
We decided to exclude Chairman Mao and his Little Red Book. This one-time librarian at Peking University is perhaps the most widely read of all librarians who wrote but it was under extraordinary circumstances (although it is now rumoured that the book was ghostwritten). Our featured book (pictured at left) is Hemlock and After by Angus Wilson, illustrated by Ronald Searle, and was a bestseller in 1952. Wilson was a librarian in the British museum.
Star Man's Son
by Alice Mary (Andre) Norton
A post-apocalyptic tale from 1952 – Norton was a librarian in Cleveland and the Library of Congress.
Books in My Baggage
by Lawrence Clark Powell
Clark Powell was a librarian at UCLA and the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.
by Philip Larkin
Larkin was a librarian at the University of Hull. Jill is a novel about life in Oxford during WWII.
A Winter's Love
by Madeleine L'Engle
L'Engle was a volunteer librarian in New York. A scarce novel about a troubled marriage.
by Marianne Moore
This modernist poet, noted for her wit, worked in the New York Public Library in the 1920s.
Higher Power of Lucky
by Susan Patron
Patron won a Newbery Award for this children's book. She worked at the Los Angeles Public Library.
by Thomas Berger
A novel about conflict in small town 1930s America - Berger was a librarian and journalist.
The Wild Old Wicked Man and Other Poems
by Archibald MacLeish
MacLeish was Librarian of Congress from 1939 to 1944. He was also a playwright, journalist, lawyer and statesman.
The Giant's House
by Elizabeth McCracken
Written by a former public librarian, this novel (about a librarian) was a National Book Award nominee.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
by Beverly Cleary
Cleary worked as a children's librarian in Yakima, Washington, before writing many children's books.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
by Dee Brown
An agriculture librarian at the University of Illinois, Brown's 1971 book remains a non-fiction classic.
Ill Starred Captains: Flinders and Baudin
by Anthony J. Brown
Brown was a former librarian from the State Library of South Australia.
Doctor Brodie's Report
by Jorge Luis Borges
Borges was a director of Argentina's National Public Library - this is a collection of 11 short stories.
by August Strindberg
Strindberg worked for eight years as an assistant librarian at Sweden's National Library.
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
by Anne Tyler
This novel was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Tyler is a former librarian and bibliographer.
Out Stealing Horses
by Per Petterson
An ex-librarian AND a bookseller, Petterson's novel was one of the NY Times' books of the year in 2007.
Story of the Eye
by Georges Bataille
Histoire de L'Oeil is a controversial novel from 1928. Bataille was an archivist at France's National Library.
by Roberto Juarroz
Juarroz was head of Bibliotechnology & Informational Science at the University of Buenos Aires
Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast
by Bill Richardson
This Canadian is a Master of Library Science. This book won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.
The Legate's Daughter
by Wallace Breem
Breem was a legal manuscripts librarian in London – this novel is Roman kidnap adventure.
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village
by Laura Amy Schlitz
A novel set in medieval England in1255. Schiltz is a school librarian in Maryland.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
A true bookperson, Shaffer worked as a librarian but also in bookselling and publishing.
The Story of My Life
by Giacomo Casanova
This great lover was a librarian in Count Waldstein's household where he wrote his autobiography.
The Image or What Happened to the American Dream
by Daniel J Boorstin
Boorstin was the 12th Librarian at the Library of Congress from 1975 to 1987.
Chewing the Scenery
by Davina Elliott
Davina worked for London's Westminster Libraries and still volunteers at St James's Library.