Which booklover can resist a book about books? A book about readers? And also ticking some boxes for me, a book written by a woman, and translated into English from French.
And then it begins with one of my favourite quotes, “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library” by Jorge Luis Borges.
We begin on the metro where Juliette spends her commute watching people who are reading. There’s the man in the green hat reading a history of insects. The young woman reading romance novels whose eyes begin to tear around page 247. Juliette prefers watching readers to reading her own book.
One day, Juliette steps off the train at a different stop, takes a walk around the strange neighborhood, and finds herself at a house with the front door wedged open with a book.
There she meets Soliman whose house is full of books. And book passeurs come by, they deliver books to people. Not just randomly, but people they have watched, followed, until they can sense the book that person needs.
And it all sounds kind of lovely, the way I’m describing it, but while I expected to be enchanted by this book, I just wasn’t. Although I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe because she doesn’t seem to really do much as a book passeur. And maybe because I didn’t really feel much of a connection to any of the characters. Maybe I was looking for something more whimsical.
This book wasn’t quite for me but maybe it will be for you.
It wasn’t for me, either. I’d enjoy a page and be momentarily charmed…and then not. And then a little charmed, and then confused by the logistics of what the heck was happening. All rather strange in the end.
Yeah, whimsy doesn’t necessarily make a story compelling, especially if you don’t care about the characters. I might give this one a try if I’m in the mood for something that isn’t my usual ‘dark and depressing’ book, though.
Even though I nearly always love non-fiction about books and bookstores, I’m often found wanting by fiction about bookshops/reading/stories. Maybe our expectations are too high…but I’m starting to simply avoid them rather than be disappointed.
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I should try to avoid them too…you’re probably right about high expectations!
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