The Strange Library



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I bought this book the day after I got made redundant from my library job. For twelve years I thought I had worked in a strange library – but thankfully not as dark and sinister as Murkami’s one!

‘The Strange Library’ is a fully illustrated and beautifully designed book. I loved the nostalgic old school library ticket on the front cover and the tagline on the back cover which simply read; “All I did was go to the library to borrow a book.” I’m a real library lover and can be a bit of a geek about it so although I have only ever managed to dip in and out of Murakami, I sensed I might like this! The illustrations inside enhanced this psychedelic tale providing a unique visual enjoyment alongside the text. I found the drawings, some of which are marbled papers and old pages from books found in The London Library, to be simultaneously odd and fun.

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But what’s it about? Well that is a good question! A small boy goes to the public library to borrow a book, once there he is taken to an underground reading room by a cruel old man. There he is locked in a cell by a “Sheep-man” and is instructed to memorise two large books to secure his freedom otherwise his brains will get eaten and something gross about caterpillars will happen to the likeable Sheep-man. There is also a beautiful girl who has had her voicebox “destroyed,” a giant pet starling and of course the Sheep-man makes the best doughnuts the boy has ever tasted.

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It’s a magical, creepy tale told in Murakami’s trademark beautiful sentences. A fantasy, dreamlike and nightmarish story about childhood fears and loneliness (as I read it). I found it to be a short, really delightful one-sitting read. I’d recommend it to lovers of all things library related, bibliophiles who like to collect good-looking books for their shelves and of course to Murakami completists.


Notes on the author – Haruki Murakami:

  • Born in Kyoto in 1949, now lives near Tokyo
  • He is the author of many novels as well as short stories and non-fiction
  • His works include Kafka On The Shore, 1Q8A and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running




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