Book Review: The Mobile Library series

Ian Sansom’s name may be familiar as the author of Paper: An Elegy – one of The Travelling Bookbinder’s top five reads. That turns out to be merely one of sixteen books he has written.

Please can I introduce you to The Mobile Library. This is no ordinary peripatetic lending vehicle, run by a somewhat unconventional duo of librarians.

To describe the main protagonist, Israel Armstrong, as ‘magnificently hapless’ is to downplay the number of times you’ll cringe in disbelief as yet another unfortunate predicament befalls him. Once you accept the notion that good will somehow prevail, the farcical comedy rips along despite the woefully un-roadworthy van, with an extraordinary cast of characters.

A niche book for the mobile library loving sub-section of bibliophiles.

The Guardian describes the series as ‘A perfect antidote to melancholy.’

Just what the doctor ordered? Don’t read them too fast then – there are only four:

The Mobile Library: The Case of the Missing Books

The Mobile Library: Mr. Dixon Disappears

The Mobile Library: The Delegate’s Choice

The Mobile Library: The Bad Book Affair

all by Ian Sansom, all published by 4th Estate.

After the fiction, at the end of ‘The Delegate’s Choice’ the author reminisces ‘Libraries are places where you go to invent and reinvent yourself, and to find out how other people have reinvented themselves, and what they’ve written on the walls, and the desks, and in the books; they’re a wonderful hiding place, but also a way back out into the world. The whole point of a library is that you don’t have to buy the books you read. ‘

For a total immersion in the delights of reading, imagining, hand-lettering and binding, as well as libraries, consider the BookLove e-course which begins on 24th February.

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