Scratching the Itch: The Library at Mount Char

Now that we’ve got all that mushy stuff out of the way, what do you say we do an actual review?

I’d been on a pretty decent reading streak. I didn’t fall in love with every book but I didn’t feel like throwing them across the room or walking away from any of them. Like I said, it’s been fairly decent.

But I was still feeling the itch. That vague kind of itch where you’re dissatisfied with something but you can’t for the life of you put your finger on it. I had finished reading A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, which was good but I wasn’t screaming myself hoarse telling anyone about it, and I needed to pick the next one. I was completely paralyzed with an inability to pick my next read.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to read non-fiction or fiction, if I wanted to knock something off my TBR Pile Challenge list, or dive into the pile from the library, if I wanted to read one of my books or one of the books I’ve borrowed from others. I know that this indecision was because I was afraid to choose wrong and I was really ready to be blown away by something again.

I handed the decision over to my husband and he chose The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins.

The book opens with our librarian (she may have a looser interpretation of that word than we do), Carolyn, covered in blood walking along the side of the highway.

So that got my attention!

Carolyn, along with her 11 adopted brothers and sisters, is responsible for a catalog of knowledge in her “Father’s” library. Carolyn’s catalog is languages so she knows every language in the world: French, Mandarin, Egyptian, ancient languages as well as the languages of animals. Her other siblings’ catalogs are war and destruction, healing, math and physics etc. They are supposed to study everything in their catalog but are not allowed to study other catalogs, or talk about them with their siblings.

When Father is missing, the siblings are left to try and work out where he is and what to do until they find him.

That’s the simplified version, anyway. This is one of those books that you really just have to read to get. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s kind of like if Quentin Tarantino imagined what it was like to work at a library. So yes, there is violence. But it’s also extremely funny and the characters Hawkins has created are original and wonderful. Besides Carolyn, there’s Scott, a plumber Carolyn meets in a bar who she is using but who also has his own sad story to tell; Erwin, a badass former SEAL who knows there’s something fishy about Carolyn; and David, who is flat out terrifying.

It was a crazy wide-eyed ride from start to finish and you should just read it (maybe just skip over the dog stuff. I skipped that.)

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23 thoughts on “Scratching the Itch: The Library at Mount Char

  1. This sounds very interesting! I was just recommended this; I’ll definitely have to look into it more. Speaking of you loving books, I just bought My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologies – I can’t wait to read it after reading your praise!

  2. “It’s kind of like if Quentin Tarantino imagined what it was like to work at a library.” I love that! This book sounds like a quirky kind of spooky – I think I would like it. I hadn’t heard about the dog stuff before, so thanks for the warning.

    I know exactly how you feel, going from pile to pile unable to decide what’s next. Sometimes when that happens to me I ask one of my kids to decide. I give them a choice of 2 or 3 books and they choose based on the cover and a very brief plot description. Your husband made a good choice!

    • Yeah I was NOT prepared for the dog thing. And I didn’t care for it.I ended up skimming right over it. I didn’t miss anything.
      It truly is an EMBARRASSMENT of riches when you can’t even make a decision. He did pick a good one! It’s really rare that I read a book that I think he will like (he loves horror and really really creepy scary things which I just CAN’T) but I think this one he will like.

  3. I’m dabbling in 5 different books at the moment and cannot settle down with one of them. I do want to finish my TBR Pile challenge this year, but maybe I should just throw in the towel, run to the library, and get loads of books to find one that grabs me. Or maybe I just get this one and give it a try…

    • I cannot do that! I feel so unsettled the whole time, like I should be reading any other book but the one I’m reading. I hope that situation resolves itself soon!
      I do find that, when I’m struggling with my book mojo, a library trip and fresh book blood really does help. You need to be excited about what you’re reading!

  4. Sounds very different! Talking Tarantino, is there a lot of violence in it? Sometimes I don’t mind his violence (Kill Bill) sometimes I think it’s horrible (Dusk Till Dawn)

    • There is quite a bit of violence in it. The first half anyway. It calms down in the second half. It wasn’t anything that I was truly horrified by, it was almost cartoon like because it was so insane. You know? That’s why I think of Tarantino.

  5. I love that you had your husband choose for you. My husband always goes and picks up the Looming Tower from the bookshelf when I can’t make up my mind. I should read it – but no. There really is no way to describe this book adequately! Glad it was a success for you!

  6. You nailed it with the Tarantino comparison- yes! I loved this as well, but am now back to being bored by everything I’ve read after it. It’s like, “Really, people, this is as imaginative as you can get?!” I may need to switch to non-fiction for awhile. 😉

    • I wonder if it’s also a change in the weather? I’m in the middle of non fiction right now (the invention of murder) and I’m having a hard time with that too! Normally non-fiction is good for a reset but this time…

  7. Pingback: Better Late Than Never: 2015 in Review | The Paperback Princess

  8. Lol lol I love this line “It’s kind of like if Quentin Tarantino imagined what it was like to work at a library.” It makes me so curious about it now.

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