'Paling's deftly drawn vignettes are frequently funny, sometimes
sad and occasionally troubling . . . Borrow a copy from your local
library, if you still have one. Better yet, buy it' Neil Armstrong,
Mail on Sunday 'Not only was I captivated by Paling's lovingly
wrought series of pen portraits, I was amused, moved and - perhaps
most surprising of all - uplifted' John Preston, Daily Mail 'There
are many detractors who question whether libraries are still
relevant in the digital age. Paling's keenly and kindly observed
account of his encounters offers a gentle insight as to why they
still are' Helen Davies, Sunday Times Chris works as a librarian in
a small-town library in the south of England. This is the story of
the library, its staff, and the fascinating group of people who use
the library on a regular basis. We'll meet characters like the
street-sleepers Brewer, Wolf and Spencer, who are always the first
through the doors. The Mad Hatter, an elderly man who scurries
around manically, searching for books. Sons of Anarchy Alan, a
young Down's Syndrome man addicted to the American TV drama series.
Startled Stewart, a gay man with a spray-on tan who pops in most
days for a nice chat, sharking for good-looking foreign language
students. And Trish, who is relentlessly cheerful and always
dressed in pink - she has never married, but the marital status of
everybody she meets is of huge interest to her. Some of the
characters' stories are tragic, some are amusing, some are
genuinely surreal, but together they will paint a bigger picture of
the world we live in today, and of a library's hugely important
place within it. Yes, of course, people come in to borrow books,
but the library is also the equivalent of the village pump. It's
one of the few places left where anyone, regardless of age or
income or background, can wander in and find somebody to listen to
their concerns, to share the time of day. Reading Allowed will
provide us with a fascinating portrait of a place that we all value
and cherish, but which few of us truly know very much about ...
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