Before I get on with the ramble, just a small update about work. I know that you might be getting a bit sick of hearing about this so often but this will be the last time, I promise.
Today is my last shift at my retail job. Tomorrow is my first day at my new job.
Yesterday, my manager surprised me with a bag filled with thoughtful gifts. I almost cried, barely holding it together. I am going to miss my old job more than I thought I would. Handing over my lanyard might get a bit emotional, so I’m going to keep tissues on me, just in case.
I know it sounds sappy, but bear in mind I have worked there for over three years. I know I’m off on a new adventure with so many opportunities ahead but I already feel a bit nostalgic.
Alright, time to properly begin.
A subgenre I enjoy is, for lack of a better term, books about books. Whether fictional like Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan or memoirs about working with books. Such as the book I just finished.
Reading Allowed: True Stories and Curious Incidents from a Provincial Library by Chris Paling is an autobiographical account of his time working at libraries in and around Brighton. He recounts the experiences he had with interesting customers, the pros and cons of working with the local community and the importance of libraries in the modern age.
Some of the encounters Paling shares with us reminds me of some of the characters I have met over my time in retail. Some funny, some absolute sweethearts and some less than pleasant.
I’m someone who uses her local libraries a lot. Not just to get my hands on wonderful books but also as a place to simply relax. I don’t know about you, but to me, I have always seen libraries as peaceful and calming places. Paling and I seem to agree on the value of libraries as not only a great place for learning and reading, but what they do for the community at large.
Libraries are being closed down left and right in many parts of the UK. Thankfully, my city of Glasgow haven’t shut any and have stated on record they will do everything in their power to keep them open. Great news for me and other bookworms in my city.
Being honest, it isn’t the best memoir I have read. I didn’t find it very engaging but what balanced it out was how light a read was. That is due to the casual tone Paling writes in. It’s like listening to someone ranting about the shift they just got off. In a good way of course.
It’s one of those books you could easily read in a day, and it is interesting enough to hold your attention. However, don’t go into it expecting a deep dive into library politics or anything like that. There are some bits that are a little troubling but for the most part its a charmingly funny read.
Overall, I did enjoy Reading Allowed but I don’t think it would be everyone’s cup of tea. Avid bookworms and library regulars will certainly appearance this honest account from the other side of the counter, but I don’t think it will suit everyone.
It’s a good breather book, one to read in between heavier books or if you want something to finish in an afternoon.