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Summary

Chris works as a librarian in a small-town library in the south of England. This is the story of the library, its staff, and the fascinating group of people who use the library on a regular basis. We'll meet characters like the street sleepers Brewer, Wolf and Spencer, who are always the first through the doors. The Mad Hatter, an elderly man who scurries around manically, searching for books. Sons of Anarchy Alan, a young Down's syndrome man addicted to the American TV drama series. Startled Stewart, a gay man with a spray-on tan who pops in most days for a nice chat, sharking for good-looking foreign language students. And Trish, who is relentlessly cheerful and always dressed in pink - she has never married, but the marital status of everybody she meets is of huge interest to her.

Some of the characters' stories are tragic, some are amusing, some are genuinely surreal, but together they will paint a bigger picture of the world we live in today and of a library's hugely important place within it. Yes, of course, people come in to borrow books, but the library is also the equivalent of the village pump. It's one of the few places left where anyone, regardless of age or income or background, can wander in and find somebody to listen to their concerns, to share the time of day. Reading Allowed will provide us with a fascinating portrait of a place that we all value and cherish but which few of us truly know very much about.

©2017 Chris Paling (P)2017 Little Brown Book Group

Critic reviews

"Paling's deftly drawn vignettes are frequently funny, sometimes sad and occasionally troubling.... Borrow a copy from your local library, if you still have one. Better yet, buy it." (Neil Armstrong, Mail on Sunday)
"Not only was I captivated by Paling's lovingly wrought series of pen portraits, I was amused, moved and - perhaps most surprising of all - uplifted." (John Preston, Daily Mail)
"There are many detractors who question whether libraries are still relevant in the digital age. Paling's keenly and kindly observed account of his encounters offers a gentle insight as to why they still are." (Helen Davies, Sunday Times)

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