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The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections: A Novel | Eva Jurczyk
"With its countless revelations about the dusty realms of rare books, a likable librarian sleuth who has just the right balance of compassion and wit, and a library setting that is teeming with secrets, The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a rare treat for readers. I loved this book!"Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Anxious People meets the delights of bookish fiction in a stunning debut following a librarian whose quiet life is turned upside down when a priceless manuscript goes missing. Soon she has to ask: what holds more secrets in the librarythe ancient books shelved in the stacks, or the people who preserve them? Liesl Weiss long ago learned to be content working behind the scenes in the distinguished rare books department of a large university, managing details and working behind the scenes to make the head of the department look good. But when her boss has a stroke and she's left to run things, she discovers that the library's most prized manuscript is missing. Liesl tries to sound the alarm and inform the police about the missing priceless book, but is told repeatedly to keep quiet, to keep the doors open and the donors happy. But then a librarian unexpectedly stops showing up to work. Liesl must investigate both disappearances, unspooling her colleagues' pasts like the threads of a rare book binding as it becomes clear that someone in the department must be responsible for the theft. What Liesl discovers about the dusty manuscripts she has worked among for so longand about the people who care for and revere themshakes the very foundation on which she has built her life. The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a sparkling book-club read about a woman struggling to step out from behind the shadows of powerful and unreliable men, and reveals the dark edge of obsession running through the most devoted bookworms.
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review
StellaB
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Mehso-so

Liesl is standing in as director of the university library when a rare book goes missing. She‘s an interesting character, and the storyline is promising. But somehow this did not come together for me, and I skimmed through the second half.

MrsK I have this one in my TBR, but lately I‘ve been seeing more so-so reviews like yours. Great review…maybe I need to rethink my choices 😁. 3w
StellaB @MrsK Thanks 😀 It has all the ingredients and the main character is someone I enjoyed reading about. It‘s just not properly developed I think. But maybe you‘ll have more luck with it 🤓 3w
18 likes2 comments
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CaitlinR
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Bailedbailed

Been there, done that, got the tee shirt. Mean spirited colleagues, backstabbing administrators, rich donors with too much power. Throw in sexual innuendos not essential to the plot, and I bailed after the requisite 50 pages. I loved being a Librarian, but this story brought back all the bad days. Some will love this, but not me!

kspenmoll I bailed from this too! 2mo
23 likes1 comment
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BookNAround
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It‘s a drizzly day and there‘s nothing to do but read. (I kind of love this.)

Aims42 That‘s our weather too! Settled in with my book and some hot tea 🥰 2mo
61 likes1 comment
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HappilyEverKrafter
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Mehso-so

There is no bigger fan of the library than I, and so I really wanted to love this book. But it was just missing … something. I did want to read on to discover who the thief was, but this book was missing the magic of so many books that take place in libraries.

kspenmoll I never finished it; lost interest! 2mo
HappilyEverKrafter @kspenmoll I definitely found myself doing some major skimming in parts! 2mo
47 likes2 comments
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perfectsinner
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Started this tonight. I'm about 130 pages in so far... not loving it... it's kind of slow and I'm still not sure what's happening. I'm guessing it's gonna be a 2-3 star for me... but guess we'll see

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JacqMac
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Pickpick

Hubby just pulled this book off a shelf and said, “You should read this one. You‘ll like it.” He didn‘t even read the back. “What holds more secrets in the library- the ancient books shelved in the stacks, or the people who preserve them?” The writing wasn‘t the best, but the story was good. The editor was lazy. Overall it made for a good Sunday read. So I guess hubby was right. Don‘t tell him I said that.

Alfoster Your secret‘s safe with us!!😝 4mo
58 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Sharpeipup
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Todays forecast? 100% chance of reading

Aims42 😂 Got the same forecast here too! 🥳 4mo
Tamra Love it! 4mo
Kappadeemom You‘re in Florida, amIright? 4mo
See All 6 Comments
kspenmoll Here in CT as well! 4mo
Gissy 😂📚📚📚❤️ 4mo
50 likes1 stack add6 comments
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Hooked_on_books
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Panpan

The director of a rare book collection at a Canadian University has a major stroke shortly after an extremely rare book was acquired. And now no one can find it. This excellent premise and setting are squandered by bad writing (constant repetition, lots of sentence fragments), gross juvenile humor, and a major undervaluing of the female characters. Very disappointing.

shanaqui Aww, that does sound like it could be cool and then... what a letdown. :( 5mo
LiteraryinLawrence Yikes. That‘s disappointing! 5mo
iread2much Booo, so sad to read that this book was disappointing 5mo
54 likes3 comments
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KathyWheeler
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Pickpick

This book about a retirement-age librarian, who unexpectedly has to take charge after her boss has a stroke is a low pick for me. The library processes, the academic machinations, and the mystery of some missing books were interesting, but I could never warm up to Liesl. It seemed she tried to solve most of her problems by drinking, and that included on the job. I found the ending really satisfying, however.

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KathyWheeler
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While I walked today, I didn‘t listen to anything, I did read some more of the tagged book and am liking it. The lower left picture is tonight‘s sunset on our walk. The rest are of our trip to the aquarium in New Orleans yesterday. It‘s been awhile since I‘d been there, and I don‘t remember that little Holocaust Memorial outside by the river.

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CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
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Pickpick

If you are fascinated by rare books/rare book libraries or are a plot-focused reader who doesn't mind being emotionally distant from the characters, this is an excellently done book. I didn't quite find the characters compelling and found the tone detached and glib, edging on satire. I feel I should have loved Liesl, the surprisingly complex older woman librarian comfortable being the person in the background, but I just didn't warm up to her.

KathyWheeler I‘m reading this right now and am about 1/3 of the way through. While I‘m liking it, I agree with you about Liesl. I thought maybe I‘d warm up more to her later, but it‘s not happening. 6mo
CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian @KathyWheeler glad it's not just me! I hope you enjoy the mystery aspect! 6mo
44 likes1 stack add2 comments
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MittenGirlPeach
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I‘ll start with the mug. The mug filled with garden tools! Mugs are special to me. I love coffee. I love my mornings (especially now that I‘m not that busy with freelancing)—leisurely and filled with reading and word games. And I love mugs. Mugs I‘ve been given or mugs I‘ve purchased, but most importantly, memories of where and how I ended up with the coffee receptacle. #springequinoxswap @Chrissyreadit @sprainedbrain

Chrissyreadit Im so glad! 😘😘😘😘I loved a mug tied into gardening! 7mo
AlaMich Cute hedgehog stationery! 7mo
BookBosomed1 @wanderinglynn gifted me the Herbiary gift set, too. Isn‘t it gorgeous? I just love it. 7mo
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MittenGirlPeach @BookBosomed1 it‘s absolutely beautiful! I‘m spending time with it this morning. 6mo
Chrissyreadit What word games do you play? 6mo
MittenGirlPeach @Chrissyreadit I play wordle, quordle, and Semantle, and I usually give the Times crossword a try as well. The first three are part of my morning routine now; really enjoyable! 6mo
25 likes6 comments
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lynneamch
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Gripping mystery with good questions about preserving original manuscripts versus damaging them through labratory dating methods. Pic of Thomas Hughes Free Public #Library opened in 1883 in Rugby, Tennessee, now part of the historic village. The original collection of books of over 7000 volumes, dating from 1687 to 1899, remains intact. #SavvySettings @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @Eggs

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Perfect 📚👏🏻 7mo
38 likes1 stack add1 comment
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janeycanuck
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Mehso-so

Not for me… It was slow with stiff writing and I found Liesl dull & insipid. It's a decent debut but I don't think I'll be watching for anything else from Jurczyk.

Also, I‘m annoyed that she couldn‘t come up with a better name for the department given the name of the equivalent department in the library she works is the Department of Special Collections and Rare Books.

Megabooks Great review! 7mo
janeycanuck @Megabooks I wasn‘t quite as annoyed as you about the number of times the calling of police was pondered but I was cranky that she kept having the same conversation and doing nothing. 7mo
Megabooks Right? It was easy to see why she was passed over to lead the department prior to the head‘s illness! 🙄🙄 (edited) 7mo
janeycanuck @Megabooks Exactly. She seemed like a good administrator - really solid with operations & logistics - but not a good leader. I was baffled when she was offered the job permanently. 7mo
40 likes4 comments
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janeycanuck
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I‘m looking forward to some good #weekendreading time, finishing up my library book, catching up on the #pemberlittens North and South chapter-a-day and hopefully, getting a start on Matrix.

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MaggieCarr
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Mehso-so

Meh. Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. Very disconnected main character compared to the cover art since Liesl's been married 40 years and near retirement when she has to take over the department due to the directors health emergency. Mystery but also not... Just part of the storyline???

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TiredLibrarian
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Been in a bit of a slump. About 1/2 done with this one, and it's mildly interesting. #mystery #booksaboutbooks

41 likes1 stack add
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Aims42
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Pickpick

Just finished this gem 💎😍I loved how it kept me guessing all the way to the end 🤯 It also made me want to go walk around my college campus again and visit the library I spent many hours studying and typing endless papers at 😂 A treat for all library fans and fans of books about books!!

janeycanuck Ooh, I just picked this up from the library. Can‘t wait now!! 7mo
Aims42 @janeycanuck Nice!! I hope you enjoy it!! 7mo
54 likes4 stack adds2 comments
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Litlady
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I have the most awesome and brilliant #Litsypenpal in the universe! Thanks @Beck9lol for making my birthday a lot more joyful! That little coffee cup that says, ‘Friends Like Books Should be Few and Well Chosen‘ pretty much says it all! I can‘t wait to crack these beauties open along with those cocoa truffles. Yum! The Leefee plant air diffuser is perfect! So very thankful and as Miss Bates would say from Emma; ‘Wanting for nothing.‘ 💜📚💜🤗📚🥰

Beck9lol I'm so glad you like it all. I thought that mug was very fitting. I hope you had a fantastic birthday friend! 7mo
22 likes1 comment
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AWahle
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Mehso-so

This book was fine. The library aspects were fascinating & I‘d be interested in nonfiction about rare books. I don‘t mind not liking any of the characters but I really disliked Leisl. Her decisions & behavior drove me crazy.

AWahle When an employee doesn‘t show up for work or call in, you do a welfare check. Leisl waiting almost 2 weeks really bothered me. 7mo
21 likes1 comment
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kspenmoll
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This afternoon‘s read.

wanderinglynn Ooh, this book sounds interesting. 8mo
kspenmoll I never finished it- Lost interest. 2mo
78 likes4 stack adds2 comments
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kspenmoll
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#mugtour #gettysburg #coffeeandbooks #chocolate

My parents stuffed 8 of us in a station wagon for a trip to Gettysburg National Military Park,Hershey, & Amish country. Beautiful weather, picnics, fascinating tours, chocolate bars! 🍫🍫 wonderful memories. Decades later,my husband & son visited Gettysburg,stayed in town a few days & soaked in history. Hence the mug. ☕️📚

LeahBergen I want to visit Gettysburg one day. 😊 8mo
Librarybelle So cool!!! 8mo
kspenmoll @LeahBergen I would love to revisit! Plus there are Litsy friends in that state! 8mo
Chrissyreadit Are you close to Gettysburg? 8mo
81 likes1 stack add5 comments
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MaureenMc
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1. Tagged book is my most recently added. No clue when I‘ll get to it. 😆
2. Nope.
3. The Eighth Life, A Truth Universally Acknowledged, and There is Confusion
#WondrousWednesday

Eggs Interesting titles! Thanks for playing 📚📚 8mo
kspenmoll I just started the Dept of Rate Books-! 8mo
26 likes2 comments
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staci.reads
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Pickpick

I love a good book about book lovers ❤📚. It's an enjoyable mystery about the world of rare books and those who work to research and preserve them.

72 likes7 stack adds
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AmyM43
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Pickpick

A steadily paced look through the stacks of a university library housing thousands of priceless tomes. Liesel is thrust into a position of authority when her boss falls ill. Unfortunately Liesel must also contend with fundraisers, donors, missing manuscripts and a possible thief in their midst. #fiction #arc #debut

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PatriciaU
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Mehso-so

My eagerness to read this book was slowly but surely squashed as I slogged through the first couple of chapters. I am a reader who prefers to *like* at least one of the characters. Unfortunately, every single character got on my last nerve. I found the writing disjointed, with groups of sentences describing one thing jammed in the middle of paragraphs about something else. This makes me suspect the ARC has some formatting issues.

Karisa Aw! I hate it when that happens. The book‘s premise looks so interesting too. I like to have a character I can root for too. Better luck next time! 9mo
PatriciaU I don‘t really want to pan this because I think there might be editing problems in ARC. I‘ll probably go back and take another shot at the finished book. 9mo
45 likes2 comments
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robinb
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Pickpick

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, but it was not what I expected (based on the cover). When the head of department (library) at a large university in Toronto is rendered comatose by a stroke, his assistant Leisl (on sabbatical) is called in as interim. Things go bad from day one, and she must wade through her coworkers secrets/motives to determine if one of them is a thief when a priceless artifact goes missing. This is not your 🔻

robinb typical mystery, and if you‘re looking for lots of action, that‘s not what this is about. This delves into some major issues such as sex discrimination, elitism, mental health discrimination, abuse of power, etc. The author blends a mystery filled with flawed coworkers/suspects with a treatise on the day-to-day abuses that are sadly a part of our society. 🔻 9mo
robinb And while Liesl is our heroine here, she is also not without her own demons. Very well written and more in-depth than I expected, it leaves a lot to ponder in its wake. 4.5/5⭐️ 9mo
LeahBergen Great review! 9mo
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robinb @LeahBergen Thanks Leah! 😘 It was one of those books that had a lot to unpack. 😂 9mo
julieclair Thanks for this really helpful review! 8mo
robinb @julieclair 😊👍 Hope you enjoy if it‘s on your radar! 8mo
70 likes4 stack adds6 comments