Librarians' Private Reserve Stock

Once in a while, if a librarian is lucky and judged deserving, a co-worker will recommend an especially treasured book. Different from our everyday title-swapping and book banter, these suggestions are usually made privately, with a kind of offhand gravity, and are intended as both gift and compliment. What are these personal favorites like? They're often highly idiosyncratic, and share a certain intensity. In some cases they are their authors' only works. They're always memorable, sometimes hauntingly so. Here are a few of the gifts received from librarians  over many years:

The Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermout
Through the eyes of a Dutch child on her grandmother's sugar plantation, we see a beautiful, slightly menacing Java, alive with mysteries and scented with spices.

The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Forget "The Godfather" - this portrait of the last patriarch of a great house in decline gives a deeper grasp of Sicily than any work of fiction has a right to do.

The Gipsy in the Parlour by Margery Sharp
A fey, ambitious Welsh interloper with a gift for hypochondria insinuates herself into an English country family. Charming and very funny.
    
The Bear by Marian Engel
Magic realism done right: There is Bear, the totem and archetype, and then there's an actual wild bear. Which turns up at the cabin of a lonely Canadian woman?
 
Just today, another gift-suggestion: The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame). A meek young woman is handed a fatal (maybe mistaken?) diagnosis, so decides to live out her remaining days being exactly as outspoken as she feels. Sounds irresistible!
 
And from me? The Viceroy of Ouidah, Bruce Chatwin's fever dream of depravity. The Means of Escape, eight dazzling stories by Man Booker Prize-winner Penelope Fitzgerald.  And anything at all by Rose Tremain - her work is like the ideal box of chocolates, where each bite is a unique, exquisite surprise.