2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 6 books toward her goal of 240 books.

Book Review: MAD Librarian by Michael Guillebeau

“Carl Sagan said we are all made of stardust. She was made of book dust.”


“We’ve all put up with these problems for too long. No one’s been mad enough before. Pun intended.”

I didn’t know what to expect from this one – after downloading the galley, I looked up other reviews to see what the buzz was on this one (I do that from time to time, out of curiosity). WOW. People do NOT seem to like this book – the rather vituperative reviews and low stars really surprised me… Don’t get me wrong – there are some issues that I had with it as well. The story is rather extreme – excessive corruption and sexism, exceedingly polarizing characters, wild-eyed pessimism (and, by the end, optimism), too-good (and -bad) to-be-true characters… The plot is wildly implausible. The language is, at times, hyperbolic and the drama, overdrawn.

BUT IT IS SATIRE. And that’s what satire does…

I think that reading this as a gen fic narrative, each word read as a ringingly true statement about the world as it is, is the problem. If you read it like true fiction (you know what I mean), you’d probably be disappointed or disgusted or eye-rollingly turned off. But if you read it as a satirical riff on the insanity of the modern world, a world which emphasizes flash over substance at entirely too many turns and which seems to reward sneaky, corrupt, idiots at the expense of The Good, then I think it all falls into place quite nicely. For goodness’ sakes, even the characters names were obviously satirically derived – even aging hippies wouldn’t honestly name their daughter Serenity Sweetblossom, would they?? And Amanda Doom?? The MAD itself?? And read the dedication – clearly Guillebeau has an axe to grind tale, and it’s an important and undervalued one, which is well served by the snarky over-the-top style he adopted to tell it. Yes, I rolled my eyes a few times. Yes, I occasionally skimmed a page that felt overdone. But all in all, the premise and delivery were very well aligned, and I enjoyed reading this one. I read it in a day and a half – and I only get to read at night, before bed (or in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep). That should tell you something…

I for one applaud what he is trying to accomplish with this book. The donations to the MAD Librarian Fund are a brilliant idea, and I hope that the cause is picked up by some of the very large corporate organizations he so derides. His vision for what a knowledge- and book-based town could truly accomplish is a marvelous one, and I think there’s more than wisdom hidden in the MAD’s structure than is immediately apparent. Here’s hoping someone with the resources to actually discover that wisdom stumbles upon a kernel of it…

My review copy was provided by NetGalley. MAD Librarian will be released November 16, 2017.

AND – a bit of news, courtesy of the author: MAD Librarian is now allied with the Awesome Foundation for Library Innovation. Awesome is a group of librarians who contribute their own money to provide grants to innovative library projects like sharEd which provides low-income Pre-K classrooms in developing countries with materials in a library model, and Breaking Silos for Social Justice, which supports librarians and other Austin, Texas-area professionals who are working to support communities of marginalized groups. MAD Librarian is happy to have half our sales going to support this great work.

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