There is something inherently magical about going through the shelves of the library, hunting for The One. You know "The One". The book that transports you to the place you don't know yet, but you already know you want to visit, and if you're exceptionally lucky, a place you want to live 2-4 days every few years FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!
In most libraries it's a pleasant, anticipatory feeling. In the right library it can make you downright giddy. These books are not always found on the Best Seller shelf, or the Fan Favorites shelf. Oh they can be found there, sometimes, maybe, but they are also tracked down, title by title in the stacks, a wordy jungle filled with shy prey, recognizable only by their modest spine and sometimes attractively bright skin of a cover. The treasure might be glimpsed in the tender underbelly of the jacket notes or a peek at the meat of the book.
*A book doesn't have to BE an adventure book to hold an adventure. All that's required for that is sufficient worthy content to pull you in, wrap you up in the pages and make you reluctant to put it down to go to dinner.
Okay, okay. Enough with the hunting expedition metaphor. But it does sort of lead me to the next two books on my favorite literary library list. First...
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
Okay, so the cover doesn't do this book any favors. In the hunting analogy above, had I found this book on the shelf, I would have released it back into the wild. But the title. The title. That intrigued me. And when I started to read...the book begins in a small library in Michigan. And I could see it. I could see the comfortably quiet, bookish folk peacefully inhabiting their small, underfunded home away from home, because I've been there. Not to that specific library of course, but there in that small town library. And I was hooked. And the main character, Isaac Vainio, started off a little...I'm searching for the words here...too snarky might work...for my taste, but I was willing to give it a few more pages.
And then the plot kicked in. I'm not going to say too much. And I'm particularly not going to say that this is the best book I've ever read, because it's not. But the premise is sharp. And the story can hold you. And the magic. As someone who has coveted the magic of books her entire life, I truly covet Isaac Vainio's magic. And that's all I have to say on the matter.
Mr. Monday, first in Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series
Yes. Garth Nix again. And yes, you have to read the entire series. Maybe twice. Maybe more than twice. Go on. I'll wait.
So technically the library itself, set in Arthur Penhaligon's school, has a brief, although vivid, cameo. But, since this is my list, my blog (and my rules) it totally qualifies because this entire series is wrapped in the magic of books, words, pages and ink. They flow, quite literally, into Arthur, transforming him into something other than himself, and throughout the series that change both makes him greater and distances him from his origins. I like to think that the school library scene, which I won't describe in any detail because I hate it when reviewers do that, is Nix's nod to the power of the library on the imagination and the soul.
Although I might be overstating the connection a bit on that last one. I mean, I personally believe that, but Garth may have simply thought it would be fun to wreak havoc on a school. I don't know.
Anyway. That's it. Part 2. Still haven't gotten to the end of my list. So next time...Part 3 - Libraries You Carry With You.