‘The Librarianist’

Lonely, retired man’s secrets revealed as his past connects to present day

By Stefanie Davis

“Bob had long given up the notion of knowing anyone, or of being known. He communicated through the world partly by walking through it, but mainly by reading about it.” (Dewitt, 2023, p. 4) “The Librarianist” by Patrick Dewitt is a novel about retired librarian Bob Comet. Bob was the stereotypical librarian – introverted, preferred to be surrounded by books and enjoyed the quiet of the library in the morning. The book begins after Bob has retired and goes about his ordinary and mundane life of reading, cooking, eating, tidying and walking. One day on his walk, he finds a confused and lost elderly woman at the nearby market, and he returns her to the senior center where she lives. He decides to begin volunteering at the center, and while it starts rough, eventually he becomes a known friendly face among the residents. Next, we discover that many years ago Bob’s wife ran off and married his best friend. The story then travels back to Bob’s childhood where he ran away and had an adventure before being found and returned home. At 23 years old, Bob’s mother passed away and left him the mint-colored home in Portland, Ore. where he continues to live. The story comes full circle and secrets or unknowns are revealed, and Bob’s past is connected to his present. This novel is character-driven, reflective and engaging, but moves at a slow pace. For fans of “The Collected Regrets of Clover” by Mikki Brammer, “The Authenticity Project” by Clare Pooley, “Small Things Like These” by Claire Keegan and “The Reading List” by Sara Nisha Adams.


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