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Books About Libraries & Librarians

As book lovers with a huge appreciation for libraries and the librarians who make them great, we’re very excited to share these book recommendations with you! It was fun to research a wide variety of books, from historical fiction books set in libraries around the world to magical realism with a librarian as the main character. We think we’ve found a novel for everyone!

Image of bright library shelving

Historical Fiction Books About Libraries & Librarians

Book Summary

Twenty-five-year-old widowed librarian Clara has turned Bethnal Green tube station into England’s only underground library after the original Bethnal Green library was destroyed in the blitz. While WW2 rages above ground, the secret library serves thousands looking for solace in books as bombs fall above them.

However, Clara’s resolve is tested as the war drags on. With the help of her assistant (and best friend) Ruby, Clara tries to stay strong, even as the safety of their loved ones is in jeopardy.

The Book Girls Say…

You can read more about the true story of the real Bethnal Green underground library from The Guardian.

Librarian Spy Book Cover

Book Summary

Ava lives a quiet life as a Library of Congress librarian. Her world is turned upside down when she gets a new job offer from the US military. They want her to work undercover as a librarian in Lisbon, but her real goal would be acting as a spy.

In France, Elaine is an apprentice at a printing press run by the Resistance. As Nazis search for the press to shut them down, Ava and Elaine are connected through the coded messages they send. These book lovers find unexpected hope and friendship through their work with each other.

The Book Girls Say…

Kindle Unlimited as of: 02/07/2024
Librarian of Burned Books Book Cover

Book Summary

This is an intertwined story of three women, including Hannah, a German Library of Burned Books librarian in 1936 Paris. She believes that the power of books can help counter rising fascism in Europe.

In 1933, Joseph Goebbels invited an American writer to participate in a culture exchange program. Althea, a small-town girl from Maine, is impressed by the sparkling Berlin she arrives in, but she soon learns that things are much different than they appear.

In New York, Vivian is determined to stop a Senator trying to censor Armed Service Editions, portable paperbacks shipped by the millions to soldiers overseas. To win this battle, she’ll need the help of a reclusive and mysterious woman tending the American Library of Nazi-Banned Books in Brooklyn.

The Book Girls Say…

This novel was inspired by the Council of Books in Wartime, a WWII organization founded by booksellers, publishers, librarians, and authors to use books as “weapons in the war of ideas”.

Book Woman of Troublesome Creek book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

99% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

The impoverished residents of Troublesome Creek struggle for nearly everything, but thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, they don’t want for books.

Book woman Cussy Mary Carter, is not only Troublesome Creek’s own traveling library, she’s also the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. But not everyone approves of Cussy’s family or the government Library Project. Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, but she has to confront prejudice and suspicion as old as the Appalachians.

The Book Girls Say…

The sequel, The Book Woman’s Daughter, is set in Kentucky two decades laters.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

97% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This historical fiction novel is based on the remarkable true story of J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian, a Black woman who became one of the most powerful women in NYC at the turn of the century.

Belle da Costa Greene was working at Princeton University Library when J.P. Morgan’s nephew recommended her for a position curating a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artbooks for his uncle’s newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. This position of prominence made her one of the most influential people in the art and book world. She became a fixture on the New York social scene.

But Belle had a secret that could change everything. She led people to believe that her dark complexion was the result of her alleged Portuguese heritage. In truth, however, she was born Bella Marion Greener – the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard University.

The Book Girls Say…

We both rated The Personal Librarian five stars! The writing duo of Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray put together a seamless story that educates and entertains. From learning about the progress and recession of the civil rights movement in the decades surrounding the turn of the century to literary and art history, the book introduces several aspects that left us eager to do more research. However, that education was wrapped in a page-turning story full of romance and intrigue.

The book manages to move gracefully between lighter and heavier storylines. We were always on the edge of our seats, wondering if Belle’s secret would be revealed.

If you ever find yourself in NYC, be sure to plan time for The Morgan Library! Angela had a chance to visit back in March, and she was awed by the architecture and grandeur of each and every room, including Belle’s private office.

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Books Set in the 1900s-1910s: The Turn of the Century
The Personal Librarian Book Club Guide with Discussion Questions

PS: We also have a printable Personal Librarian book club guide available on Etsy, including discussion questions, 7 pages of bonus contextual information and photos, a printable bookmark, and more!

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

It’s 1913, and Laura’s husband is the superintendent of the NY Public Library. The job comes with an apartment in the grand building for the couple and their two children. Laura seems to have it all, but after she enters journalism school at Columbia and has her worldview rocked, she starts to question if the things she has are the things she wants.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie landed her dream job as a curator at the NY Public Library, but her grandmother Laura’s legacy looms over her until she can no longer ignore it.

The Book Girls Say…

Fiona Davis is one of our favorite historical fiction writers because of her strong female characters. Her novels are each set in a famous NYC building and combine history, a little romance, and a mystery.

Giver of Stars book cover

Book Summary

When English Alice Wright marries an American, she looks forward to moving to the US. But life in Kentucky comes with an overbearing father-in-law, so Alice takes an opportunity to join Eleanor Roosevelt’s team of traveling packhorse librarians. 

Alice bands together with Margery and three other women to become the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. They must rely on friendship, courage, and perseverance in this beautiful story about making a difference.

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25 Books About Friendship for Adults

Paris Library book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

96% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Based on a true story, this novel will transport you to two vastly different time periods and locations. In 1939 Paris, Odile worked for the American Library. When Nazis arrive in Paris and threaten the library, Odile and her fellow brave librarians join the resistance.

Forty-three years later, in Montana, teenager Lily becomes interested in her widowed neighbor. As they begin to form a bond, Lily tries to learn more about how her French neighbor ended up in Montana. They have no idea that a dark secret connects them.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 02/05/2024
War Librarian book cover

Book Summary

This dual-timeline book features two ground-breaking women. In 1918, Emmaline signed up as one of the volunteer librarians on the frontlines in France. As she participates in a secret book club for censored books, a romance blooms. However, this leads to events that cause her to find the courage she needs to survive.

In 1976, Kathleen has been accepted to the first co-ed class at the US Naval Academy. But not everyone is welcoming to the women, and the Navy hasn’t prepared for them very well. After a tragedy, Kathleen becomes a target and must learn to trust others to make it through the Academy safely.

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Books Set in the 1900s and 1910s

Keeper of the Hidden Books book cover

Book Summary

In Warsaw, Zofia depends on books and her best friend, Janina, to endure the horrors of the Nazi occupation of Poland. However, as bombing increases, even books are endangered. Zofia begins hiding books away, and even starts an underground book club & library. When Janina is forced into a newly established ghetto, she still doesn’t give up her love of reading.

However, Zofia and Janina’s activities put them at risk as the war continues. Can they save both Janina and the literature that has brought them so much comfort?

The Book Girls Say…

This book was a 2023 Goodreads Choice Finalist for Best Historical Fiction. It’s both heart-warming and heart-breaking, so be sure to have Kleenex on hand.

Contemporary Books About Librarians & Libraries

Funny Story book cover

Book Summary

After Daphne makes a big move to her fiancé Peter’s lakeside hometown, he turns her future upside down by discovering he’s actually in love with Petra, his childhood best friend. Now, Daphne is stuck in a new town with no friends. She at least has her dream job as a children’s librarian (which barely covers her bills).

When Daphne needs a roommate, she comes up with Miles, the only other person who can understand her recent heartbreak. Miles was engaged to Petra before Peter moved back to town.

Daphne and Miles mostly avoid each other until they decide to team up and begin posting misleading photos of their summer adventures together. As they partake in fake adventures, surely Daphne won’t fall for her ex-fiancé’s new fiancée’s ex, right?

The Book Girls Say…

Emily Henry is always a great choice when your book club needs a lighter read. Her characters are always three-dimensional, with lives outside whatever romance they’ve found.

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Best Book Club Books for 2024

Library book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Teenager Tom and pensioner Maggie are unlikely friends after an encounter at their local library. While Tom dreads his future, partly because his mom is gone, Maggie is dwelling on her past, partly because her son is gone. 

As the duo works together to save the library, they prove that libraries are about more than just books.

The Book Girls Say…

Reviewers say that while this book addresses some heavy topics, it’s also a very sweet story full of heart.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 02/05/2024
Overdue Life of Amy Byler book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

94% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Amy’s husband left on a business trip three years ago and decided not to return. Forced into single parenthood and without child support, she did what she had to do – cutting back expenses and taking a job as a school librarian. Now, her husband has shown up out of the blue, wanting to reconnect with his teenagers. Amy is reluctant to let him have them over the summer, but she finally gives in.

With her newfound freedom, Amy decides to escape rural Pennsylvania to attend a librarian conference in NYC. Overworked and underappreciated, Amy describes herself simply as “a 40-year-old mom-shaped-librarian.” But her old friend Talia, a fashion magazine editor in the city, wants to help her see herself in a new light. A makeover, a few blind dates, and a trending hashtag later, Amy gets a glimpse of what her life could have been if she had chosen different priorities.

Just as Amy is struggling with whether to stay in this exciting new chapter of her life or return to the life she left behind, a crisis brings her two worlds crashing together.

The Book Girls Say…

Amy is totally relatable as a main character, and you’ll want to root her on during her escape from everyday responsibilities and her search for romance at 40. This book tops our list of favorite rom coms!

Kindle Unlimited as of: 02/01/2024

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Books With Characters in Their 40s

Reading List book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

93% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

When teenage library worker Aleisha finds a list of little-known novels in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird, she decides to read every book on the list. Each story is magical to her for different reasons.

Widower Mukesh worries about his bookworm granddaughter, Priya. To connect with her, he visits the library and meets Aleisha. When she shares the found list with him, they begin to form an unexpected friendship and discover the healing that is desperately needed for each of them.

The Book Girls Say…

This gem was one of our readers’ favorite books of 2022.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 02/05/2024
Last Chance Library book cover

Book Summary

Shy librarian June is more comfortable with books than the idea of leaving her small English village. However, she’s forced outside her comfort zone when her library is targeted for closure. 

Thirty-year-old June’s campaign to save the library means opening up to others for the first time since her mother’s death. One of her new allies is lawyer Alex, who she hasn’t seen since high school. Maybe June’s fight for the library will save more than the books.

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23 Books About Books – Must Reads for Book Lovers

What You Wish For book cover

Book Summary

The first few chapters of What You Wish For may have you convinced that you’ve picked up just another romance, but as the story unfolds you’ll find so much more. Katherine Center’s writing captures the bittersweet struggles of real life, and the two main characters are each struggling with traumatic pasts. You’ll alternate between laughing out loud and reaching for the tissues, but this story is ultimately uplifting.

Samantha is a school librarian who loves her job at her current school and who has a bold zest for life…but she hasn’t always been that way. Duncan, the new school principal, is very regimented and unwilling to stray from the rules…but he hasn’t always been that way.

Sam and Duncan have met before. They worked together at another school years ago, back when they were both very different people. When Duncan takes over as the new principal at Sam’s school, she’s shocked to discover that the fun-loving guy she remembers has turned into a completely different person – one she’s afraid will ruin everything she loves about her loving and welcoming school community.

As things spiral out of control, Sam and Duncan are forced to get real with one another, and to reveal to each other the traumas from their pasts, in order to save the school, and themselves.

Close Enough to Touch book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

97% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

From the ages of 17 to 27, Jubilee has lived in a world of solitude because of a rare allergy to human touch. Her last experience in the world led to a major anaphylactic shock during her first kiss, so it’s safest at home. However, when she loses her mother, she decides to reenter the world. 

She finds employment as a librarian, and there she meets Eric. He’s a divorced father with custody of a troubled 10-year-old son, Aja, and a 14-year-old daughter who lives with her mom and won’t speak to him. Jubilee, Eric, and Aja bond over books at the library, and each begins to find their own healing. 

Their stories are endearing, quirky, and more humorous than you might expect based on each character’s difficult circumstances.

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Books with Characters in Their 20s

Our Missing Hearts book cover

Book Summary

This novel imagines a United States where a nationalistic law called PACT, Preserving American Culture and Traditions Act, rules the land. While it was sold as a way to preserve American values after an economic collapse, it’s being used as an excuse for violence and discrimination against minorities. 

The book is largely told from the perspective of Bird, a twelve-year-old boy, who lives with his father after his Chinese-American mother left when he was nine. They live in a small dorm room at the college where his father was a professor and is now a librarian. However, the library is missing many books banned under PACT, including basic history and cultural works. 

When Bird receives a letter from his mother, he sets out to find her and discovers an America he didn’t want to see. Along the way, you’ll see chapters from her perspective and explore how art can help heal.

The Book Girls Say…

If your book club liked the writing in Ng’s first book, Little Fires Everywhere, this could be a solid pick. However, it has some tough themes that could turn into political discussions, so it’s important to know that going in.

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Mystery Books About Libraries & Librarians

By Book or By Crook book cover

Book Summary

Lucy enjoyed her job poring over rare tomes of literature for the Harvard Library, but when her 10-year relationship comes to an end, she decides to rewrite the plot of her life.

She plans a getaway to the Outer Banks home of her aunt Ellen in search of sun, but she winds up taking a librarian job at the lighthouse library on Bodie Island. It all seems perfect until a first-edition Jane Austen novel is stolen, and the chair of the library board is murdered.

The Book Girls Say…

Book #11 in the Lighthouse Library series, A Stranger in the Library, is scheduled for publication in June 2024.

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Summer Cozy Mysteries Set on the Beach

The Librarian Book Cover

Book Summary

Librarian Ava loves the quiet library at Tate Modern. It gives her peace, which is rare because she’s haunted by an incident a decade ago during her university days. During a night out with her friend Poppy, Ava meets a handsome stranger. But his parting words leave her uneasy.

With her emotions off-kilter from the encounter, she’s not sure if she’s being paranoid about strange occurrences over the next few days, or if the man from the bar is somehow behind them.

The Book Girls Say…

Readers say this quick read is best if you suspense your disbelief and let yourself go along for the ride.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 02/08/2024

Book Summary

In this new cozy mystery series, we meet sixty-year-old Jane, who has just been forced into early retirement from her job as a librarian. She needs something to keep her busy and supplement her meager pension. Working for Cam, an eccentric 33-year-old collector, might be perfect.

He’s looking for an archivist to document his rare books and artifacts, and Jane is thrilled to be able to explore the unique books. However, soon after starting her new job, a body is discovered in Cam’s library. It’s the heir to a pharmaceutical fortune, whom Cam had recently dated. Cam is suspect number one. He wants to clear his name, but agoraphobia, rampant anxiety, and limited social skills make it difficult for him to complete an investigation alone.

Can Jane help clear her boss’s name? And more importantly, is he as innocent as he says?

The Book Girls Say…

This book is said to bring the golden age of detectives into the 21st century. Several reviewers mentioned enjoying the narration of this mystery and that they are looking forward to the release of the next book in the series in April 2024.

Magical Realism Books About Librarians & Libraries

The Invisible Hour book cover

Book Summary

Fifteen-year-old Mia is planning her escape from an oppressive cult in Massachusetts. Her mom was a teenager in an affluent Boston family, but when she became pregnant with Mia, she joined a community and later married the leader, Joel.

Mia loves books, but has to be secretive when visiting the library, because it is not allowed. When she finds a copy of The Scarlett Letter, she finds the story so similar to her mother’s life. This book changes her life in more ways than one, as soon she finds herself transported to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s world in 1837.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 08/15/2023

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Readers’ Favorite Books: 2023 Edition

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Harry has always loved trees, but he spends his days behind a computer as an analyst in a treeless US Forest Service office. After his wife dies suddenly and tragically, Harry can’t seem to move forward. One day, he decides to follow his wife’s advice – he quits his job and escapes to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania to be with the trees.

There, he meets Oriana, a young girl who has suffered a significant loss of her own. She spends most of her time in the forest with her book in the treehouse her father bought for her. They bond over their love of the forest and the trees.

The octogenarian librarian in town gives Oriana a strange, handwritten book called The Grum’s Ledger. With this book as their guide, Oriana helps Harry believe in the magic, if only he’s willing to open his eyes and see it.

The Book Girls Say…

Because of its thread of magical realism, some describe this book as a fairy tale for adults. But it’s more than that. It’s a story of grief, sadness, and the power of friendship and connection set against the beauty of Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains. This story is told from many points of view, including Harry and Oriana’s, as well as numerous others – but it’s written in a way that it’s easy to follow and understand.

Book Charmer book cover

Book Summary

This is a great read if you love a little magic or mystical qualities in your books! Librarian Sarah can hear books whispering to her from the shelves. 

The books alert her to a town newcomer, Grace, in need of friendship. The only problem is that Grace is resistant to the town and residents, especially Sarah. 

The books reiterate that Grace is exactly what the town needs. Sarah just has to figure out a way to bring everyone together.

The Book Girls Say…

This is the first book in the Dove Pond series. The sequel, A Cup of Silver Linings, was published in 2021.

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23 Books About Books – Must Reads for Book Lovers

Two Lives of Lydia Bird book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

95% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

After Lydia’s fiance, Freddy, dies in a car crash on the way to her 28th birthday dinner, she wants nothing more than to be alone with her grief. But soon, she discovers that she’s not alone after all – in fact, she wakes up in bed next to Freddy alive and well. But then she wakes up again, and he’s gone. In this alternate reality, her life with Freddy continues toward their impending wedding.

As Lydia leads these two parallel lives, a new relationship causes her to question where she really belongs. Weaving together grief, humor, and heart, this book will give you all the feels.

The Book Girls Say…

The librarian connection in this book is a smaller plot point than some of the others on this list, but it’s still a great read if you enjoy alternative life storylines. The library aspect is heaviest in the final chapters of the book and plays an important role in Lydia’s healing.

Time Traveler's Wife book cover

Book Summary

Chicago librarian Henry suffers from a rare genetic disorder that causes him to drift unpredictably through time. On one of his travels when Henry is 36, he meets a six-year-old girl named Clare. The two marry at a different point in time when Henry is 31 and Clare is 23. 

This is a story about their passionate love for one another, but the complexities of marriage are multiplied by Henry’s inability to remain in one time and place. Told from both points of view, the book asks the question, “Don’t you think it’s better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?”

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Image reading "The Best Books About Libraries & Librarians" over photo of bright library

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Melissa George

Melissa has been an avid reader since early childhood and she enjoys nearly 100 books each year. In addition to reading, she loves research and her prior career as a data analyst now helps her curate crowd-pleasing book lists. Her favorite authors include Fredrick Backman, Fiona Davis, & Steven Rowley.

Melissa is also a published author of a non-fiction title, The Prepared Home.

alberta

Sunday 11th of February 2024

this list is great - I have started a personal challenge of my own this year along with the others I do - a challenge to read more books about books and libraries:) as well as a smaller one on cats - and voila you send a lovely list straight to my box :0 thank you - have made an old lady happy this morning:)

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