Cover Image: The Librarianist

The Librarianist

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Member Reviews

Bob Comet is a retired librarian and he's been living life through literature. When he encounters a confused person on his walk in Portland, Oregon, he returns the person to their care center and decides to be a volunteer companion. This was a gem of a novel, celebrating the extraordinary in the ordinary every day.
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Several library staff have read this book and it's left us all scratching our heads. It reads like two different books blended together with some overlapping characters. I think what the author was trying to portray, that we are all librarians of the stories that make up our lives, gets lost. Bob is an interesting character, and the current timeline story has some real magic there, but it gets muddled by the addition of a very long flashback. Shorten that one, add a couple of other glimpses into Bob's life, and you would have had a much better book.
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THE LIBRARIANIST tells the story of a retired librarian named Bob Comet, who helps a lost  elderly woman who is wandering.

I enjoyed the story which was both enjoyable and fun, and I loved the themes of choosing the life you are living and making choices.

*many thanks to Harper and Harper Audio, Netgalley for the gifted copy for review
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Bob Comet is a major introvert who finds a way to surround himself with unusual characters. A retired librarian, he spends most of his time in his mint-colored house, with his books and routine. He becomes a volunteer at a senior center and it is there where we learn more about his life experiences. An unhappy, neglected child, he has a wild runaway adventure. We learn of his experience with love and heartbreak. And we learn about his commitment to the orderly work of a librarian.
I adored Bob. He is a quiet guy in a quiet novel, who helps us find the extraordinary in the very ordinary. Smart, quirky, funny - this book checks a lot of my boxes. I’m definitely inspired to seek out author Patrick deWitt’s backlist.
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This book was a little too slow paced for me, maybe I was just in the mood with something easier to absorb. There are a lot of characters, so it took me more effort getting immersed into the story. The book starts off quite strong but starts to fall in the middle. If you are able to finish, it is a lovely story.
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The only Patrick deWitt book I had read to this point was "French Exit," so I was prepared for another darkly comic satire along the lines of Muriel Spark and Evelyn Waugh.. "The Libararianist," however, is something quite different--a quiet, somewhat sweet look at one man's quiet, somewhat small life that reminded me immediately of Lydia Millet's recent novel "Dinosaurs." After a chance encounter with a woman who has wandered off from her assisted living community, retired librarian Bob Comet takes the bold (for him) step of volunteering there, where he slowly begins to make friends and break down some of the protective barriers he has lived within for most of his life. But when an unexpected revelation brings his past crashing into this tentative new life, Bob looks back to two earlier periods of his life--his short marriage and the time he ran away as an 11-year-old boy--to reckon with the possibilities for both disillusionment and adventure that can come from taking a chance. 

"The Librarianist," then, has three very distinct storylines, and it seems from other reviews that many readers have a preference for one over the others. I actually enjoyed all three--I felt like there was a great sense of time and place in each of the flashback sections, first to the suburban life of a newly-married couple in the 1960s and then to a dying resort town in the post-WWII Pacific Northwest, and that these touchpoints in Bob's life explained a lot about how he has become the man we see in the book's opening section as well as what he chooses to do when we return to that timeframe at the book's end. Readers may be disappointed if they come to "The Librarianist" expecting it to be peppered, as its title may suggest, with references to famous books (although there is a very small nod to that with a subtle Russian lit through-line), but I found the Bob Comet's story to be touching and rewarding in its own right. One other note: I listened to the audiobook version of this title, narrated by Jim Meskimen, who I thought did a lovely job and enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

Thank you to NetGalley and to Ecco/Harper Audio for providing me with an ARC of this audiobook in return for my honest review.
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This offering by deWitt tells the story of Bob Comet, a retired librarian, who rescues an elderly woman when she is lost and wandering. A lover of literature, Comet lives alone, often lost in books. He does walk daily though, and, after assisting the dazed and confused woman (who turns out to be his former wife) in a convenience store, becomes friendly with the other residents of her care facility. Bob begins volunteering there regularly and eventually becomes a resident.

Bob's own past is interwoven in the story of his later years. The larger than life people he encounters help him reflect on his own history, creating a family for himself in his later years. 

Experienced narrator Jim Meskimen is Bob Comet as he reads the work for the audiobook.

Recommended for those who enjoy literary contemporary fiction, though some may find the poignant work a bit saddening.

Note: I listened to an audio ARC provided by NetGalley.
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I really liked this book a lot. The book will take you on an adventure through the protagonist’s life. It was an emotional, fun and lovely book.  
Thank you to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley, for the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of this audiobook, in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Audio for providing me with an audio ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. 

I'm not entirely sure how to rate this book. It wasn't at all what I expected. It was more bittersweet and even dispairing than I had anticipated. Overall I appreciated it because it was truthful and makes reflect on the choices and events that have led you to where you are in life. There were parts in the story that lagged and, for me, didn't have a lot of bearing on the plot and Bob's character development, especially his life as a Librarian. And if you are looking for literary references or to read about what life is like for a librarian, this isn't it. For the most part, though, I found it immensely interesting. I wanted to know more about Bob and I felt for it. It was a story that called for introspection
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I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I first saw this book as an ARC I got so excited. A book about a librarian? Sign me up!!

The book had a great plot but I felt it dragged at times. The story kept me hook but there are moments when I feel all the characters were unnecessary. I do still recommend reading it since it does have magic moments that book readers would love. I will definitely read more from the author.
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The pacing of this novel was very slow. While I really wanted to love a book about a librarian, I just couldn't connect with the main character or any of the characters. I listened to the audio, and felt the narrative to be monotone. Bob's life is mundane and so are most of his experiences. There is a glimmer of a spark when he meets the residents of a senior center and has a chance to reconnect with his former wife. The story of young Bob and his runaway journey at eleven years old also held some promise, but I feel it missed the mark.
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I picked up this book for the title, as I work in a public library. I liked this book but didn't love it. It confused me sometimes the way it jumped around from present to past, especially the storyline of Bob running away and meeting the 2 ladies. I did love the chapters with the interesting characters at the living facility. Thanks for providing a copy to me.
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A big thank you for being able to download this audio book from NetGalley. Unfortunately it was not as great as I thought it would be. At times the main character, a retired librarian, reminded me of Ove - in Backman's novel. He was lonely and out of sorts and needing something to fill the void in his day.

I just personally felt it was a lackluster read.
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Patrick deWitt blew me away with his debut, The Sisters brothers and I keep hoping each of his subsequent books will get back to that same level of outstanding. Unfortunately I also keep being disappointed and sadly The librarianist also just didn't do it for me and as a librarian I wanted to love it SO MUCH! 

I found the story really all over the place and hard to follow. I had to re-read several parts after drifting off while listening to the audiobook. The librarian parts were definitely the highlight for me but overall it won't be a memorable read for me this year. :(  Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early audio copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Retired librarian Bob finds an elderly person who has gone missing and decides to help out at a local senior center. There are too many characters and the plot moves too slowly. The history of the senior center is detailed in a lengthy introduction. There aren't enough memorable characters, and the ending drags on too long. The book's intended readers are bookworms, yet there aren't nearly enough literary allusions to keep them interested. The book has a touch of enchantment but moves at a snail's pace and features far too many pointless characters. I realize it was supposed to be a witty book for neurotypical readers, but meh...The writing was good.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publishers for this advanced copy for an honest review.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Audio for the ALC of "The Librarianist" by Patrick deWitt.  This is my first book by this author and based on buzz, I was excited to give it a listen.  Overall, I enjoyed this book.  It was a bit quirky with nostagla weaved throughout.  I appreciated the cataloging of an ordinary life and after listening, I reaffirmed my belief that no life is ordinary and that their is magic in every life.  There is comfort in routine and I appreciated this character's ability to appreciate that as well.
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This was a weird book. I've never read Patrick deWitt before, so I didn't know anything about his style; I chose this story because I am a librarian and love reading about librarians. The actual library isn't featured much in the story, though. This is mostly about Bob Comet's failed marriage and interesting relationships with people at his local senior center.

The story jumps around in time; we go back to his short-lived marriage for a large chunk of it, then come back to modern day when he's in his 70s.

There didn't seem to be a super consistent plot? It's more just an exploration of this character and a study of his life. Some moments of humor, and a generally playful tone (especially in the audio; dialogue always feels nonchalant). It's cute. I'm not sure what the message is; it's possible I missed it because I was listening and not looking at the words. I zoned out a few times in the middle; the story just didn't quite grab me, but it wasn't bad, just a slower read.
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I was thoroughly enchanted by the beginning of this book. When our MC meets a confused woman who is a resident of a senior home, he begins to make regular visits to the center. The characters at the home are fun and entertaining and his interaction with them and the woman who runs the facility are amusing and endearing. However, the story takes a turn into the past that did not pull me in as much as the first part of the book. We do eventually get back to the home and our stories do converge but I think I would have enjoyed it more if we hadn't stayed in the past for so long. I didn't find that storyline as compelling but, overall, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to fans of books like Jonas Jonasson's The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Thank you to Netgalley and HarperAudio for an ARC of this audiobook. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an audio ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. 
This book was a classic literary fiction novel. Telling the story of a recently retired librarian reflecting on his after beginning to volunteer at a senior care facility. 
While the story was unique and interesting I couldn’t help but think something was missing. The plot twists not shocking and I found the book overall very predictable. 
The story itself was very reflective of a life he no longer lives, but I found the story to be jumping back and forth a bit in a way that did not make much sense.
Overall I thought this book was fine.
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