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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2017 Chris Paling (P)2017 Little Brown Book Group

Critic Reviews

"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)

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  • Ms H. M. Conner
  • 10-29-18

excellent

I got this book from the library and immediately invested in the ebook and audible combo, plus a physical copy to give to Barry, who runs the local film club and who used to work for the local library which has closed permanently. I am also going to get my Mum the ebook and audible combo - she is legally blind and hard of hearing but she can read an e-reader with ludicrously large print and hear audible and Alexa with the volume high. She was a teacher and enjoys books on education, which this definitely is. It reminded me of the books about a school inspector by Gervase Phinn.

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  • AReader
  • 10-24-20

Libraries need all the publicity they can get!

I've come across a cluster of books about libraries, librarians, books and reading recently. While some see libraries as the home of literary fantasy, or even magic, this is more anecdotal. The fantasy encountered by the author is social or even medical in origin, but often gently amusing.

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  • Paname toujours
  • 02-04-20

great narrator, good characterisation

The librarian of a provincial library describes with warmth and good observation, the daily goings on, challenges and characters that fill his days.
I was unaware of the stress levels such a job entailed. The narrator brought the characters to life and carried the story along. It could have done with a slightly tighter edit nonetheless.