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Alison Gowans
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Sept. 6, 2023 – September is Library Card Sign Up Month, so for this week's "Check These Out" column, we're highlighting books featuring libraries and librarians. From fantastical libraries that are really portals to other worlds to historical fiction to a book of photos of real world libraries, this list has something for everyone. These book recommendations, supplied by Cedar Rapids Public Library staff, highlight the magical power of libraries and all they offer. All you need is a library card.

Scroll through the list below and click the covers to put the books on hold in our catalog today. 


"The Lonely Hearts Book Club" by Lucy Gilmore (available on cloudLibrary and hoopla)

This is a heartwarming book about unlikely friends navigating various stages of life. They meet through the local library, but create connections that change each of their lives for the better.

- Alyssa, Patron Services Specialist


"Improbable Libraries: A Visual Journey to the World's Most Unusual Libraries" by Alex Johnson

Great photos and interesting facts about a host of the most unusual "houses for books."

- Curtis, Public Service Associate


"The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig

I loved the idea central to the book. Imagine a library where every book was a story about yourself but a slightly different version of yourself. Which would you choose? Would you abandon your current story to choose a new one? Definite page turner.

"The Cartographers" by Peng Shepherd

I never knew that map making and maps in general were so fascinating. Shepherd’s book centers around the extensive map collection at the iconic New York Public Library that is visited by a fictional theft and murder. I’ve haven’t read a book like it before – original through and through.

"Babel" by R.F. Kuang

This book takes place in an alternate universe in which technology is based around the power of words. The world built in this book is so well thought out that it enhances the ideas the author is exploring. There’s magic, there’s history and the characters are full and compelling.

- Jen, Programming Librarian


"The Library Book" by Susan Orlean

This nonfiction work follows the author’s dive into the 1986 fire that ravaged the Los Angeles Public Library and its aftermath. While examining this heartbreaking tragedy, she introduces staff past and present who help put into perspective how impactful the library is in our world and the role it plays in our society.

- Jess, Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation Development Associate


"The Time Traveler’s Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger

The “time traveler” cannot control his travels. He works at the Newberry Library in Chicago and often returns from his travels naked in the wonder stacks of the library. A unique exploration of time travel with a dash of romance.

- Jill, Materials Supervisor


"A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness

I enjoy books with strong female characters, and Diana Bishop is right up there. A fiercely powerful witch, she works against some pretty formidable forces to see too it that all Creatures (Demons, Vampires, Witches, and yes, Humans) all get a fair shake in their shared world. And the adventure starts out in the Bodleian Library, the preeminent library in England located in Oxford University itself. 

"The Giver of Stars" by Jojo Moyes

Another strong offering featuring women working together to better their little neck of the woods. Based on true-life events, join Alice Wright as she ventures through Kentucky on her horse delivering books to Appalachia’s most remote dwellers. A clear example of the power of what a library, even a mobile one, can do for the people it serves.

- Kristine, Materials Librarian


"The Library at Mount Char" by Scott Hawkins

I guarantee you have never read anything like it before. Very weird, a little violent, and a whole lot of entertaining.

- Stephanie, Ladd Branch Manager