‘A Hymn of Praise to the Palaces of Delight that should grace every street corner. Absolutely exquisite.’ Ian McMillan. John Bevis is a writer and book-lover on an eccentric quest: to obtain a membership card from every library authority in England. In a ten-year mission criss-crossing the country – from Solihull to Slough, from Cleveland to Cornwall – he enrols at libraries of all shapes and sizes: monuments to Art Deco or Brutalism; a converted corset factory; one even shaped like a pork pie.
With the architectural eye of Pevsner and the eavesdropping ear of Bill Bryson, he engages us at every step with anecdotes and apercus about the role of the public library in our national life, while ruing its decline in the age of austerity.
As interested in the people he finds as he is in the buildings and their history, he is a humane, witty and erudite guide. The result is a book to be treasured by anyone who has ever used a library.