What you are looking for is in the library… maybe in this book, specifically

There are times in life when you need to shake things up. There are other times when hunkering down and being cosy and not doing too much are the vibe. Somehow What you are looking for is in the library manages to express the first while providing you with the second.

Michiko Aoyama's Japanese bestseller has been translated into English (by Alison Watts) and is proving as popular with English-language readers as it was in Japan. So what's the story and why might you want to read it?

The book is a story in five chapters with each focusing on a different character who all have something in common; they are all unhappy and looking for change, and they all find themselves happening upon the same library where they get a book recommendation from a very perceptive librarian.

Perceptive or... clairvoyant? Sayuri Komachi, the librarian in question, ticks many librarian stereotypes. She is middle-aged, has her hair in a bun, and is into crafting (specifically felting) and over the course of five chapters we begin to find out more things about her (a career change, how she met her husband) but she never stops being mysterious, and her uncanny skill for suggesting just the right title that will set a library patron on a path of self-discovery is to be admired. I think all librarians hope they have this effect on their library folks.

The Librarian is the signpost that all five characters need to point them, ever so subtly, in the right direction. Each character goes on a journey in which they learn more about what their passions truly are, or just discover the bravery to follow the dreams they've been secretly harbouring. They let go of the things that are holding them back and embrace the new and the unexpected. They make changes and unstick themselves from lives that felt stuck. They make choices that allow for more opportunities to present themselves and then they grab them. They connect more fully and honestly with the people around them. In short, they start to bloom... like an acacia flower worn in a certain librarian's hair adornment.

The book itself is not just an uplifting read, but an easy one. The language is such that it's easy to breeze through one of the chapters in a sitting, and before you know it you've nearly finished. And despite being set in an unfamiliar (to me) culture and place it's an undeniably cosy read. It's like an episode of The Repair Shop, or a snuggly throw blanket. Everything is going to work out. Nothing truly awful is going to happen. You can relax here.

If you love Ted Lasso, stories of people making positive life changes, or other cosy fiction then give What you are looking for is in the library a go. This (non-magical) librarian recommends it...

Further reading