Like most people, I miss a lot of things right now. I miss seeing my family, going to work, roaming the grocery store on a whim, and not worrying about going outside or chatting with the neighbors when I walk my dog. One of the things I miss the most is being casually able to swing by my local library branch or bookstore on the way home from work, stopping to pick up and put down books and chat about recommendations for new reads. While we’re waiting for things to return to some semblance of normal, diving into one of the books below, all of which involve libraries or bookstore, can hopefully help you remember how much you love those places.
The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
Betrayed by her husband and facing life on her own with her daughter, librarian Hanna Casey returns to her mother’s home in the rural Irish town where she grew up. Driving her bookmobile around and monitoring the activities of the tiny town library gives Hanna something to do in between arguing with her mother and worrying about her adult daughter, but it’s the project of restoring her aunt’s seaside cottage that brings her back to life. Combining a beautiful setting and a cozy, country library, this book is a great escape for anyone looking for a light read.
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
I loved Kann’s more high school/younger YA–focused book, If It Makes You Happy, so I was thrilled when a fellow Rioter pointed me toward this emerging adulthood novel. Featuring a highly relatable protagonist in Alice, library employee and lover of buffets, the book picks up right after Alice’s ex-girlfriend ends things and Alice swears off dating for good. Of course, she didn’t count on a fellow library employee and friend becoming something more! This is a sweet escape for lovers of library romance with great character development and the perfect balance of funny and swoon worthy scenes.
The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom
Also set in Ireland, this cozy mystery follows new librarian Israel Armstrong, who takes a job in at a damp and insulated town library only to find out that there are no books. Unraveling the missing book mystery will require him to sort through a cast of local characters both odd and charming as he tracks down the absent volumes and finds out why they were taken in the first place.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Translated by Lucia Graves
A worldwide bestseller that was translated from Spanish to English in 2004, this story-within-a-story presents the tragic love of Julian and Penelope, star-crossed lovers who disappear just before their planned elopement. When Daniel, the soon of a bookseller, discovers their tale in The Cemetery of Lost Books, he sets off to find the answer to why Penelope never came to marry Julian and why they both vanished from history before the story ended. Try this book if you’re looking for a rich and dramatic story that is also a reminder of the physical power books hold over us.
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Escape to the fantasy world of The Library, dedicated to collecting important books from different realities through magic and time travel. Head librarian Irene and her assistant Kai have been dispatched to London to collect a particularly important, and dangerous, book, only to find it’s been stolen before they get there. Fighting the chaotic forces of London’s underground world, the two of them will have to rescue their book before time itself begins to unravel.
The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
Lucy Hull is a young librarian Hannibal, Missouri. Ian Drake is a 10-year-old library patron, enrolled in anti-gay classes by his mother, who smuggles books in a knapsack to avoid being caught by his parents. When Lucy finds Drake sheltering in the library, the two of them agree to a “kidnapping” that will take them up and down the U.S., encountering fugitive fathers, ferrets, and plenty of laughs in this spirited and hilarious book that is a testament to the power of libraries to foster connections.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Bookworm Nina Hill is perfectly content with her bookstore job and her cat, finding company in characters instead of people. So, she’s in for a shock when the family of her long-lost father surfaces, turning up a collection of siblings she’s never heard of but all of whom want to get to know her. Combine that with a newly interested nemesis turned suitor, and the introverted Nina is in for quite a crazy year full of new relationships, trivia contests, and a reevaluation of exactly what she needs to have a full life.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A.J. Fikry is having a rough time. His bookstore is in a sales slump, he’s all alone after the death of his wife, and his prized collection of Poe poems has been stolen. Then he meets 2-year-old Maya after she’s dumped on the steps of his store, and his plan to quietly fade from life takes a sharp turn. Following A.J. and Maya as they both grow into their newly found family, this book is packed with a love for books and quirky characters that will delight readers with a deep love for their own, favorite bookstore.
Love By The Books by Té Russ
Bookstore owner and literary agent romance? Check. Adorable bookstore settings? Check. Steamy and sweet romance? Check. If you’re looking for a hot romance with a strong female character, plenty of vulnerability, and a speakeasy in a bookstore (!) be sure to pick up this quick read that will both charm you and serve up plenty of heat!
Hopefully these titles can tide you over until we’re able to safely visit our favorite libraries and bookstores again! For more bookish, socially isolated fun, be sure to check out this post on how to support your local indie bookshop.