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The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts | Joshua Hammer
To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Oceans Eleven.In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that had fallen into obscurity. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the incredible story of how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu, later became one of the worlds greatest and most brazen smugglers. In 2012, thousands of Al Qaeda militants from northwest Africa seized control of most of Mali, including Timbuktu. They imposed Sharia law, chopped off the hands of accused thieves, stoned to death unmarried couples, and threatened to destroy the great manuscripts. As the militants tightened their control over Timbuktu, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali. Over the past twenty years, journalist Joshua Hammer visited Timbuktu numerous times and is uniquely qualified to tell the story of Haidaras heroic and ultimately successful effort to outwit Al Qaeda and preserve Malisand the worldsliterary patrimony. Hammer explores the citys manuscript heritage and offers never-before-reported details about the militants march into northwest Africa. But above all, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is an inspiring account of the victory of art and literature over extremism.
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DogEaredBooks
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Birthday gifts from my favorite sister ♥️❤️
The mug is from one of my favorite potters (SKT Ceramics). I‘m so pumped to have one of her works AND that it‘s an otter (one of my all time favorite animals). And that she also got a book - she knows me so well.

Karkar Happy birthday! 4mo
DogEaredBooks @Karkar thank you! 4mo
30 likes1 stack add2 comments
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thereadingowlvina
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Mehso-so

Truth be told, it was the title of this book that piqued my interest & compelled me to read it. I wish that I could say that this book is all about the intrepid secret operation organized by the librarians in Timbuktu to save 377,000 precious manuscripts, but it is not. A good read if you enjoy politics. Liked it but didn't love it!

Rating: 3.5⭐

For my full review please visit https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2880146807

Cinfhen Cool choice for political intrigue!! Sorry it wasn‘t as kickass as the title 😜 5mo
thereadingowlvina @Cinfhen Haha! The title was actually more interesting than the content!!! 🤣🤣🤣 5mo
See All 6 Comments
Cinfhen Yikes!!! Good marketing team 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 5mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage Creative choice and great review! 👊🏻📚♥️ 5mo
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bookvixen
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Pickpick

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and their race to save the world's most precious Manuscript opens with the history of the manuscript for me it takes away all the misconceptions and also shows another side to the region and the people living there it also hints at how valuable these are and why they're so important to be kept safe. We also got to hear about the brave men and women who work together to save manuscripts from Al-Qaeda

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mhslibrarylady
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This has been on my TBR list for a while. I finally picked up a copy a few weeks ago. Only a few chapters in, but so far, so good. I do wish it had illustrations, though. I‘d love to see some of the manuscripts described in the book!

CoffeeNBooks Welcome to Litsy! 📚 6mo
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Conservio
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Took me over a month, but it was well worth the read!

I loved reading about Timbuktu and its history. Near the final 60 pages I was on edge, worrying about the manuscripts and if they would make it.

#timbuktu #mali #library #manuscripts #history

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TracyReadsBooks
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Pickpick

Fascinating, harrowing & horrifying account of man‘s dedication to preserving centuries old Islamic & secular texts from destruction at hands of 21st c. religious fanatics who had little use for medieval texts on science, medicine, philosophy, algebra, law & more. In the 16th c., Timbuktu was a renowned center of learning & preservation of 350,000+ medieval manuscripts really is remarkable, their importance impossible to overstate. Recommended.

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SW-T
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Mehso-so

The title implies there‘d be more about saving precious manuscripts, but nope. War, Al Qaeda, more war, oh...move some books, back to war and Al Qaeda. Sigh. Not at all what I was expecting. Lost interest and never really got it back. It didn‘t suck, but the contents and the title aren‘t in sync.

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TracyReadsBooks
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My next nonfiction read.

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IamIamIam
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Bailedbailed

A few things going on here: the acquisition of ancient African manuscripts and establishment of the Mamma Haidara Library in Timbuktu by Abdul Hiadara was very interesting. I got lost after that with the Al Queda involvement in Africa and the jihadi advancement in Timbuktu. I'm not into military movements, especially involving Al Queda. With 4 hours to go, I feel I'd be skimming this in print but I don't have the time for the audio.

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IamIamIam
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Working on my dad's elf hat for tomorrow night! We're taking the kids to a local historic village for Candlelight Evenings, where the village houses operate as they would in the 19th century. Fireplaces and sconces are lit and traditional music is played, while carolers travel through the village singing! It's such a cool experience!

Chrissyreadit Where? 12mo
IamIamIam @Chrissyreadit On Long Island in New York. It's called the Old Bethpage Village Restoration and they have historic houses moved from various areas of Long Island. There's also a working farm and a church. It's one of our favorite places to visit but this event is extra special! 😁 Last year, they had a 19th century Santa in one of the houses too! The homes have trees decorated to represent the time period also. 12mo
See All 26 Comments
julesG Love the hat! 12mo
Tamra Fun!! 12mo
IamIamIam @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Thank you! 🤗 12mo
IamIamIam @julesG Thanks!!! Changing colors is kind of sucking the life out of me but I'm convinced it will be worth it! 🤗❤ 12mo
IamIamIam @Tamra It really is!!! And my 10 year old is the one who really loves it most. Kids can really surprise you! Lol 12mo
julesG I hate changing colours. Even after having tried several methods of avoiding the jog, I still can't avoid it at all. 12mo
Tamra @IamIamIam I can believe it! My kids get excited by nearly any “event” that isn‘t the norm. 😄 12mo
IamIamIam @julesG I'll post a picture but this seems okay... the seam is definitely visible but I feel like joining the same way as a graphghan helped. As much as I hate joining a round and chaining, that helped a bit too. It just takes FOREVER!! 12mo
Bklover That‘s amazing! It‘s beautiful!! 12mo
IamIamIam @Bklover Aww, thanks so much!! 🤗🤗🤗 12mo
tjwill Beautiful! 12mo
IamIamIam @tjwill 🤗 Thank you! 12mo
Mitch That sounds like so much fun...and the hat is super cute! 12mo
IamIamIam @Mitch Thanks so much! I appreciate it & I'll have to post pictures after we're done. I made hats for my kids too so they'll be triplets! 12mo
Mitch @IamIamIam even better! 12mo
Avanders That is awesome!! 12mo
IamIamIam @Avanders Thanks!!! 🤗🤗🤗 12mo
Chrissyreadit Oh! I‘m sure I went when I was young. I grew up in Queens. Now I‘m a little homesick... have a great time!!!!!! 12mo
IamIamIam @Chrissyreadit I'm sure you did too! There's also the Queens Farm Museum that's got a similar set up. I've been meaning to get the kids out there for ages. I'll post pics next week! 12mo
Chrissyreadit The queens farm museum is so much fun! We were there quite a bit. My brother worked there through high school and my other brother had his wedding there. When my kids were little we went whenever we were in Queens! 12mo
IamIamIam @Chrissyreadit Aww, I love that you have such fond memories! 😍😍😍 12mo
Kaye Cute hat. Any chance your dad will let you share a photo of him modeling it for us ? 12mo
IamIamIam @kaye Of course! I'll get a picture of him and the kids with their hats on! Thanks so much! 12mo
46 likes26 comments
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Smartypants
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Pickpick

This was an interesting book and a great perspective of another country and culture. I highly recommend as a way to diversify your reading list!

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IamIamIam
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I have so much guilt over the print books I've been collecting and not reading that nothing on my Libby list looks appealing. Giving this a shot while I'm baking and crocheting today. I should have taken out a Christmas book in hopes that my heart will grow 3 sizes before Monday...

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Expandingbookshelf
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Mehso-so

Unfortunately most of this book is actually about the war with al Qaeda and in the end the librarians and their precious books become periphery characters. And while I actually enjoy nonfiction books about terrorism (I‘m fun at parties) this was a pretty dry account. I‘m honestly a little bummed because this book had the potential to be great. Instead, it‘s mediocre.

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litsybookclub
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Discussion Question #3

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litsybookclub
This post contains spoilers
show me
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Discussion Question Two

SoniaC Yes I would. They definitely endangered there safety to protect the manuscripts. 13mo
Libby1 Absolutely. 13mo
See All 7 Comments
Tadams4 Definitely. 13mo
book-lover Yes they definitely are 12mo
Liz8 100% 12mo
tpixie Yes!!! 12mo
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litsybookclub
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Discussion Question One

SoniaC I learned a great deal from this book about Timbuktu and the culture and challenges. 13mo
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Daisey
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Mehso-so

I‘ll admit that I struggled with this book. I don‘t think it was bad, but the title was misleading to the point that it was not at all the book I was expecting. I was fascinated by the parts that were actually about the librarians and people who did everything they could to protect these ancient manuscripts. I wanted more of their personal stories rather than a broad picture of the ongoing political and military battle for control of the land. 👇

Daisey I also enjoyed the National Geographic article mentioned in the book that includes photos of a few manuscripts and locations in Timbuktu. #LitsyBookClub #nonfiction #audiobook 14mo
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litsybookclub
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Here is the link for the live discussion which will start at 2pm ET.

https://zoom.us/j/696067117

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litsybookclub
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Join us for our live discussion of The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer at 2pm ET. A link to join will be posted 15 minutes before the discussion.

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Daisey
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Listening to this for #LitsyBookClub and appreciating it more than the first time I tried it, but it‘s still just not quite what I was expecting.

#audiobook #nonfiction #Hoopla

CoffeeK8 I found this interesting, but I was way more interested in some of the minor characters than the main story. 14mo
Daisey @CoffeeK8 I‘m back and forth; some parts are truly fascinating and other parts seem to drag. I am curious to listen to the rest. 14mo
61 likes2 comments
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SoniaC
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Started this one today for @litsybookclub

Graciouswarriorprincess I need to start this! Starting tomorrow! 1y
SoniaC @Graciouswarriorprincess I picked it up on Libro.fm. So far it‘s pretty good. 1y
48 likes2 comments
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litsybookclub
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New month, new book! We hope that you will join us in reading “The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu” this month. Questions? Ask @Bookworm83 or @Graciouswarriorprincess .

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Caroline2
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Yes...yes...YES and yes! 😱

vivastory #4 too soon... 1y
Branwen SO TRUE!!! 🤣 1y
Desha 😂🤣😂🤣 so true 1y
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GingerAntics Amazingly accurate! 🤣😂🤣 1y
Birdsong28 Also sequels with different covers 😂😂📚📖 1y
SilversReviews I am definitely with none being able to read my TBR before I die. 😊 1y
Caroline2 @Birdsong28 YES!! So annoying when they suddenly bring out different editions! 🙄 1y
lalatiburona Hahaha the first and third one are too real. People always think I'm weird when I tell them I've been looking for a book for years and I explain that it needs to be the same edition as the ones I already have!! 1y
97 likes8 comments
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Samary
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Friend Nathan and I just recorded the new Quarterly Book Club episode talking about The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer!
Episode will be available Sept 30!

#badasslibrariansoftumbuktu #bookclub #newepisode

tpixie Where do we find the episode? 1y
Samary @tpixie the new episode will be out Sept 30! But you can see other episodes in the meantime 😁 (edited) 1y
See All 9 Comments
tpixie Thx!! 1y
litsybookclub @tpixie Thank you😉 1y
Samary @litsybookclub @tpixie I hope you enjoy it!! 💜🤘🤩 1y
tpixie @Samary ♥️😊♥️ 1y
11 likes1 stack add9 comments
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Libby1
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Pickpick

Part literary adventure story, part explanation of the geopolitical realities of west Africa, I found this book FASCINATING.

For centuries Timbuktu had been a centre of learning, and thousands of ancient manuscripts came under threat when Al Qaeda invaded in 2012.

An intrepid group of bibliophiles risked life and limb to evacuate these manuscripts. Some may find the explanation of the political situation difficult, but I loved it.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Libby1 @inthegreensandblues , @Velvetfur , @TrishB - this was heavy on history and politics but that‘s just my cup of tea. I loved it! 1y
Libby1 @ReadingEnvy , @thea-block - this is an excellent book. I learned so much about Mali and west Africa, of which I was almost entirely ignorant. This book explains a very complex situation in an exciting way. I hope you‘ll like it if you read it! 1y
Velvetfur I didn't know the story of this so it was great to find out from you, thank you! It sounds like a great book 😊 1y
See All 9 Comments
Libby1 @Thndrstd - this has received some very mixed reviews, I think, in part, because of the book‘s focus on the politics of the region more than the librarians themselves. I didn‘t find that a problem, as I learned so much and it put the whole story in a larger context. 1y
Libby1 Thanks, @Velvetfur . I hope you‘re having a good day. 😊 1y
Velvetfur @Libby1 I am thank you, as it's my day off! I plan to finish this huge book of fairytales and drink lots of herbal tea 😀 I wish you a fab day too! 1y
ReadingEnvy @Libby1 I've read it twice! Once alone and once for book club. 1y
Thndrstd @Libby1 thanks. It sounds great to me 1y
thea-block @Libby1 Thanks for sharing your review! It‘s good to know more about the subject (politics and geo-history in combo with books) so as to be more prepared for what it actually is! Blurbs on the back of the book never really do it justice 😝 I think I‘ll definitely pick this one up! 1y
105 likes5 stack adds9 comments
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Libby1
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The first paragraph on this page describes Ahmed Baba, a savant and polymath born in 1556 and based in Timbuktu.

Whilst writing 60 books on a plethora of topics, he won renown amongst scholars. Baba also wore black eye shadow and dressed entirely in black.

What a dude.

ReadingEnvy You might even venture to say he was a bad-ass? 😛 1y
TrishB Wow 😁 pre- goth Goth 🖤 1y
Velvetfur He sounds fantastic 😀 1y
See All 8 Comments
Libby1 He sounds like a total bad-ass, @ReadingEnvy . He even wrote early treatises against slavery. 1y
Libby1 @TrishB - like a scholarly Goth-y Johnny Cash?🖤 1y
Libby1 @Velvetfur - It‘s the black eye shadow that totally sold it for me! 1y
TrishB Sounds fab 👍🏻 1y
Velvetfur @Libby1 I think that was the main appeal for me too 😀 1y
84 likes1 stack add8 comments
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StillLookingForCarmenSanDiego
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My new favourite socks. 💙🧦

eraderneely I have these too and I 😍 them 1y
CaramelLunacy Those are amazing. I want somw! 1y
CaramelLunacy *some.. 1y
Prairiegirl_reading I have these too!! ❤️ 1y
DoonTheGoon I have those! So comfy, so snarky! 1y
133 likes5 comments
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Libby1
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JennyM So much goodness📚 1y
CGKOENS Ooh, interested to hear what you think of the Alan Bradley book! 1y
Libby1 @JennyM and @CGKOENS - I‘m pretty excited about these books. I‘m also pretty pleased to carry on with the next Flavia book in the series. 1y
See All 6 Comments
thea-block I always love Flavia :) Also, I‘d love to hear what you think about the The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu! It‘s been on my TBR list for a while! 1y
Libby1 @thea-block - I was really excited to see it at the library as it has been in my TBR for ages. I‘ll make sure I tag you when I post anything about it. 😊 1y
thea-block @Libby1 Yay! I look forward to hearing your review! 1y
117 likes6 comments
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Ubookquitous
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26 likes2 comments
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shaynarae
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Mehso-so

I love the premise of this book, but the writing (or narration?) couldn‘t hold my attention. Listening to it on audio was like putting on a white noise machine.

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Conservio
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Barnes and noble is having a “buy two get the third free!” Table.. sooo many good books to select! #nonfiction

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Caroline2
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Ahh I love the little cosy library in Beaulieu Palace! How many secret missions were decided in here during WW2? If these walls could talk....!

tammysue Beautiful, and I love that wall color! ❤️ 1y
100 likes1 comment
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mhillis
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I‘ve been learning lots of interesting things from this book, including this technique for preserving manuscripts!📚

BookishMe Yes, this was an enlightening read ;D 1y
Crazeedi I want to read! 1y
mhillis @BookishMe @Crazeedi Interesting, but lots of info!! 1y
54 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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JanT
Pickpick

Put this amazing nonfiction on your reading list! Review is on LibraryThing!

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bookandbedandtea
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This book order just arrived and I realized that since getting involved here at litsy I've been buying physical books like crazy but I don't have anywhere to put them! Must stop! Time to revert back to library and ebooks. #blameitonlitsy

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LibraryCin
Panpan

Title is misleading. The majority of the book was really about the history of Islam, and the history of the area.
I was disappointed. I guess I‘m just not that interested in the history, at least the way it was written in this book, anyway. I listened to the audio, which may have had a bearing on what I thought, but in all honesty, I still don‘t think I would have liked it.

Chelleo Thanks for the insight on this! 2y
LibraryCin No problem! 2y
7 likes2 comments
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thelunarfox
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This book is a little bit more about the situation going on around the manuscripts than I expected it would be. Still interesting and inspiring though. #nonfiction #librarians

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Caroline2
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Yes!!! I've been wanting to read this book for agggggessss! This was so worth breaking my book buying ban for! But that's it now! Must not buy any books! (Well, at least till I've read the massive pile next to my bed then we'll see! 😊)

julesG 😂😂😂 I make that same promise every month. 2y
Velvetfur Wow, from reading the synopsis that sounds like a great story 👍 2y
RadicalReader @Caroline2 never seen a more beautiful book cover 2y
BookishMe This was an exciting enlightening read! 2y
89 likes6 stack adds4 comments
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Cat13
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Keep meaning to read this.

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Readage
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• I‘m sorry the image is cut off. The person on the left is asking why we even need libraries anymore?! I am sure you can find the cartoon on Google images. It‘s too good not to share with you all! •

33 likes1 stack add
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youngreadrshelf
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Mehso-so

This was not what I expected. I was prepared for librarians. And there was one, but most of it was politics, terrorism, and disfunction in Timbuktu. It was interesting, but I would have preferred more about the librarians who amassed the libraries there.

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youngreadrshelf
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In bed with my book. Wonderful way to spend a chilly Sunday night!

SheilaChew That‘s a great title! 2y
youngreadrshelf @SheilaChew I know, right. I would have picked it up for the title alone. (But I had heard good things about it also) 2y
69 likes3 stack adds2 comments
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Onioons
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"The volumes of history, poetry, medicine & astronomy once proudly displayed in libraries, markets & homes became rare & the disappeared. The great writing tradition was almost completely forgotten." ?This book is a celebration of the literary history of Mali and the bravery of those who fought to preserve it #emojinov

DrexEdit This has been on my and my husband's #TBR for a while now. Must move it up the list! 2y
Onioons @DrexEdit it's very detailed if you're someone like me who only usually reads fiction. But I think it's worth persevering cos it's a pretty unique story 🙂 2y
50 likes6 stack adds2 comments
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LaurenReads
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Mehso-so

I️ was really disappointed with this book. There was way more political and military info than manuscript info. I️ loved the parts about them trying to save the manuscripts, but all the other info was overwhelming and not why I️ picked this book up (based on the title). #nonfiction #audiobook

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SassenachTheBookWizard
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Bailedbailed

Oh no...oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no...

Holy hell, info dumping!

LazyLimaLife Really?! That‘s been in my TBR pile for a while now! Bummer! 2y
TaylorMay Aww bummer that title is so promising 2y
Cortg I‘ve heard mixed reviews. More no‘s than yay‘s. 2y
See All 8 Comments
Teresa3 I did the same thing. Couldn't get into it at all. 2y
readtheworld I really liked this on audio, but I imagine it does feel dense in print. 2y
dragondrool I wanted to love it, but I just couldn't gain any traction. Glad it's not just me. 2y
minkyb Sorry to say I felt the same wayI finished, but that is just what I do. 2y
RLW I finished it, but felt there were so many missed opportunities to tell a great story! Disappointing. 2y
93 likes2 stack adds8 comments
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SassenachTheBookWizard
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As a librarian...I am far too intrigued by this title to pass it up.

Andrew65 It does capture your attention. 2y
103 likes6 stack adds1 comment
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Flowers
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So much I didn't know was going on.

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WarpedSweetness
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EchoLogical It cracks me up every time I see it 😂😂😂 2y
WarpedSweetness @EchoLogical I just saw it on FB and it is killing me. I had to heart my own post because I find it so amusing. 2y
ReadingSusan 🤣🤣🤣 2y
See All 8 Comments
Annl That's funny @WarpedSweetness 2y
Bookzombie 😂😂 2y
drokka Brilliant! Plus they look like they're having a library in-building readathon. 2y
Bookish.Heart I love this!! 👍🏻❤️🤣 2y
CouronneDhiver Ha! Hell ya 2y
46 likes8 comments
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ontheBL
Pickpick

A fabulous book about the finding, conserving, and rescuing of the most important manuscripts documenting African history, literature, culture, life, philosophy, religion, science, and more.

RaimeyGallant Nice! 2y
5 likes1 comment
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Libby1
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AND I‘D DO IT AGAIN!

(From The For Reading Addicts Facebook page.)

MidnightBookGirl The Library Police are always after me! 2y
Laura317 My daughter was just saying that she was afraid she wouldn't get to go on field day because she might have library fines. 😂 2y
JennyM Ha! 2y
See All 6 Comments
Libby1 Me too, @MidnightBookGirl ! My form of rebellion... 2y
Libby1 Oh bless her, @Laura317 ! 💕 2y
Libby1 @JennyM 😂 2y
89 likes1 stack add6 comments