The Night Bookmobile

The Night Bookmobile, the new graphic novel written and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger, is extraordinary. It is one of those stories that will haunt me for a very long time. It is also very hard for me to talk about precisely why here, without giving away a part of the story which I would have been very upset if I knew before reading it. So the first thing I want to say, is please, quick, some of you lot go read this amazing book so we can talk about it, okay? (There's a "contact me" link in my profile. I'm not kidding. I really need to talk about this book.)


Part of the reason this book is so amazing, the reason I bought it in the first place, is that this book is about libraries. If I had to choose an inherently magical place, someplace in the real world where I halfway expect magic to happen every time I go there, it would be a library. Libraries have always struck me as pocket universes - they are full of so many things that they are bigger on the inside. You can be in them and elsewhere simultaneously. 


The Night Bookmobile of the title is a personal library, containing all the things ever read by an individual, in this case, a young woman named Alexandra. It is open only from dusk to dawn, and is not the sort of place a reader can find with any regularity, no matter how much she wishes to. It is the story of what it means to be a reader, and to live inside a world of books, and to long, unbearably deeply, for the worlds they contain.


It is possible that reading this book will break your heart. I prefer books that do that. But it may not break you in the way you expect. And that is why I am haunted by this story, and why I want you to read it, and to share my ghosts.