Public Library and Other Stories Ali Smith book review book blogger
Books, Review

Book Review: Public Library and Other Stories – Ali Smith

public library and other stories Ali Smith

A richly inventive new collection of stories from Ali Smith, author of How to be both, winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize and the Costa Novel Award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Why are books so very powerful?

What do the books we’ve read over our lives – our own personal libraries – make of us?

What does the unravelling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us?

The stories in Ali Smith’s new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make.

Public libraries are places of joy, freedom, community and discovery – and right now they are under threat from funding cuts and widespread closures across the UK and further afield. With this brilliantly inventive collection, Ali Smith joins the campaign to save our public libraries and celebrate their true place in our culture and history.

It took me a while to really get into these stories. As with all short story collections, you always like some stories more than others. (I really liked the one about the woman turning into a tree.)

Here it was more a matter of getting into the writing style since Ali Smith has a very specific way of writing. She’s very whimsical, jumps from subject to subject and at times it was a bit much for my tired brain. But no matter how lost I sometimes felt, I always found my way back and that made me love it even more.

I liked the intermezzos from other authors, telling us what public libraries mean to them and I couldn’t help but feel connected. My public library was my friend growing up. There were so many great stories to discover and I look back on that time with a smile on my face. I remember exactly what it looked like even though I haven’t been back there in about ten years. Those books made me into the person I am today.

I guess it’s a bit contagious, sharing stories about libraries. Once you start, you can’t seem to stop. I’m sure you all have your own story to tell. Do feel free to share them in the comments.

And if you’re looking for a short story collection or if you want to read something by Ali Smith but you don’t know where to start, pick this one up. It’s fun, it’s interesting and it’s just an overall great read.

Love

Ellen

 

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