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Top 10 Books Written by Librarians

the-less-deceived1 The Less Deceived by Philip Larkin
The 1955 poetry collection that made his name – Larkin was a librarian at the University of Hull.

2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Her 1962 sci-fi/fantasy classic (rejected by many publishers) – L’Engle worked as a librarian in New York.

3 The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges
Repeatedly overlooked for the Nobel Prize, Borges was a municipal librarian in Argentina – this 1949 collection is one of his best.

4 Little Big Man by Thomas Berger
This 1964 novel became a movie in 1970. Berger worked as a librarian and journalist.

star-mans-son5 Star Man’s Son by Alice Mary Norton
A post-apocalyptic tale from 1952 – Norton was a librarian in Cleveland and the Library of Congress.

6 Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
An ex-librarian AND bookseller, Petterson’s novel was one of the NY Times’ books of the year in 2007.

7 The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
This former librarian won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1985 with this novel.

8 The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot by Angus Wilson
A librarian in the British Museum, Wilson’s 1958 novel won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

9 At Mrs Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor
Taylor was a governess, teacher and librarian – At Mrs Lippincotes was her debut novel in 1945.

10 Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem
Breem was a legal manuscripts librarian in London – a Roman General is the hero of this historical novel.

And since we are talking about librarians, here are the top 10 best songs about librarians and libraries.

PS – if you work as a librarian then email your recommendation for the best book written by a fellow librarian to media@abebooks.com

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Richard Davies

12 Responses to “Top 10 Books Written by Librarians”

  1. Goodness, to say Madeleine L’Engle “worked as a librarian in New York” is stretching it a bit; she was the librarian of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and had no library education of any kind.

    I’d suggest–if you want a children’s book, and there are many, many great children’s books written by librarians–Ramona the Pest or something else by Beverly Cleary.

  2. Edmund Lester Pearson, Studies in Murder

  3. Wendy wrote: “Goodness, to say Madeleine L’Engle “worked as a librarian in New York” is stretching it a bit; she was the librarian of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and had no library education of any kind.”

    How is this relevant?

    She was volunteer librarian, which I suspect we need more of in this world. Including a volunteer librarian on the list is not only appropriate, but commendable.

    At the time she went to college, even if she had wanted a library education, there were few accredited library education programs in the country; I checked the ALA (American Library Association) website on this. Their FAQ also indicates that, even today, smaller libraries frequently hire people without such an education, as such libraries have difficulty filling such positions, and there are few candidates with such qualifications.

    See the relevant FAQ info at http://www.ala.org/ala/educationcareers/careers/librarycareerssite/whatyouneedmaster.cfm

    From the site:

    “Many smaller libraries have a difficult time filling positions, even for directors, and often will hire people with other degrees or equivalent experience. Some large urban libraries are also having difficulty filling front line librarian positions and hire librarians without master of library science degrees.”

    Was there a point to this comment other than to insult many librarians in the country, past and present, and especially those who act as volunteer librarians, as if that is not good enough?

    I would be not be surprised if many others on this list did not have a “library education” either. Did you investigate the others’ educational backgrounds as well?

    With regard to the comment on children’s books, “A Wrinkle in Time” is a Newbery Award winner (which is given out by the “Association for Library Service to Children”), and Madeleine L’Engle has won numerous other awards. Your own website/blog, linked through your user name, indicates that you have “read all the Newbery Award winners”, so you cannot be unaware of this, unless your blog is inaccurate.


    For a list of Newbery award winners: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberyhonors/newberymedal.cfm

    So, the suggested book was given an award by a library association (which you presumably knew, based on the claims in your blog), written by a person who volunteered as a librarian, and you are saying that this is somehow not good enough.

    I don’t get it.

    You could have made your suggestion on “Ramona the Pest” without prefacing it with the other ill-considered comments.

  4. Another children’s book, a Newbery Medal winner, is THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY by Susan Patron, now a retired children’s librarian from LAPL.

  5. Lao Tzu. Tao te Ching. (Ok, so, he was an archivist.)

  6. Boorstein logged many titles, the past Librarian of Congress wrote recent work on the significance of time, history and man, but the title escapes me.

  7. Here is the title and a link to his works: Daniel Boorstin, 12 Librarian of Congress:

  8. Eagle in the snow doesnt deserve to be in list in my opinion

  9. It appears that my yesterday’s comment about the Nobel Prize has been deleted. Jorge Luis Borges did not win the Nobel Prize. You should correct this error, as I suggested yesterday. If I’m wrong, then perhaps you could enlighten us as to the year and category in which he received that prize.

  10. Beth Carswell

    Thanks for the correction, Evan – great catch! Never saw your comment from yesterday, but have updated the post after today’s. Thanks again.

  11. I think that Mists of Avalon by Bradley goes into this category too. Doesn’t it. It is my favorite book.

  12. Leopard and the Cliff written by Wallace Breem is another great book, It is an awesome psychological study about how complex cross-cultural interaction can be. It was pretty interesting read. Better than Eagle in the Snow IMO.