Revenge of the Librarians

Image of Revenge of the Librarians
Release Date: 
October 18, 2022
Drawn and Quarterly
Reviewed by: 

“Funny in a distinctly deadpan way. . . . the perfect book for anyone who cares about words and the many ways to have fun with them.”

Tom Gauld writes literary comic strips, and that is not meant to be an oxymoron. Originally published in The Guardian, Revenge of the Librarians collects Gauld’s characteristically wry musings on books and the people who love them. The book is cleverly published in the true dimensions of a comic strip, long and short, and the inside front cover features an old-fashioned library card where new owners can add their date stamp to the ones already printed there.

The focus is more on writers than librarians, but the opening strip sets the tone well:

“We thought the government had beaten them but they’d only chased them underground . . .

Then one day the librarians came back. . . .

With superior organizational skills, they quickly seized power. Opponents were mercilessly shushed.

Every building was converted in a library. Every wall into bookshelves. Every person into a library card holder.

A whole world ordered on the Dewey Decimal classification system.

We never should have messed with the librarians.


Each cartoon that follows is just as quotable, funny in a distinctly deadpan way. Classic books are rewritten or given new endings. Beach reads, spy novels, horror stories—all get capsule reviews with a fresh look at predictable material. Bookstores and their inevitable cats get a nod. But most of the skewering is devoted to that strange creature, the writer, or more aptly, the wanna-be writer. Gauld pokes fun at the many ways to avoid writing, all with the excuse of stoking creative genius, naturally.

This book is the perfect gift for the friend with a huge pile of unread novels by the bed. Or for the insatiable collector who organizes their bookshelves by color. Or for the writer who can take a joke and laugh at their own penchant to plan lunch more carefully than the plot arc they’re developing. Truly, it’s the perfect book for anyone who cares about words and the many ways to have fun with them.NY Journal of Books review of 

Gauld also offers capsule reviews critics can use, but the best criticism comes from the baby book club talking about this week’s read, The Hungry Caterpillar:

“I completely agree with Mary’s point about the author’s sensitive handling of the key themes of emptiness and renewal. But I’d also like to highlight how much I enjoyed sucking on the corners of the pages.”

To paraphrase their words for this book:

“A wide range of material is cleverly explored. But I’d also like to mention that this is a book to make one smile in recognition and even laugh out loud.”