About the Magic of Libraries: What You Are Looking For Is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama Review

What You are Looking for is in the Library
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What You Are Looking For Is In The Library, a feel-good Japanese bestseller, is about how the perfect book recommendation can change one’s life. In its five stories, we meet five different people, each of whom is struggling with something in their lives.

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21-year-old Tomoka Fujiki is a bored and restless sales assistant eager to pick up new skills; though working in the accounts department of a furniture manufacturer, 35-year-old Ryo yearns to open his own antique store; a former magazine editor, 40-year-old Natsuni finds herself faced with a demotion at work after maternity leave; neither employed, educated or trained, 30-year-old Hiroya is a gifted manga artist in search of motivation; 65-year-old Masao is a recently retired salaryman on a quest for a newfound purpose. 

The common factor in each story of What You are Looking For Is in the Library is an intuitive librarian, Sayuri Komachi, whom each of the characters happen to meet when they visit a free community library. Komachi senses exactly what each of them is searching for in their lives and recommends the right book (seemingly unrelated to their dilemmas) that they should read to find it. On reading the books, the characters chance upon something that connects with them, and helps them make sense of their situation – and fulfil their dreams.

What You are Looking for is in the Library

Along the way, the stories are filled with little nuggets of wisdom and love, such as this one:

We all come to understand at some point in our lives that there is no Santa Claus. But the reason Santa Claus remains an integral part of Christmas celebrations is not for the sake of small children. It is because grown-ups who were once children themselves continue to hold the truth of Santa Claus in their hearts even after they become adults, and they live in that belief.

Michiko Aoyama, What You are Looking for is in the Library

While Tomoka understands that she needs to “keep at it” to continue learning, Ryo decides to embark on a parallel career – keeping his regular job while nurturing his dream of opening an antique store. Natsumi’s story particularly highlights the angst of motherhood and everything that comes with it – joy, frustration, exhaustion, guilt, as well as the delicate dance of balancing work with child rearing – and how she manages to cope with it.

Further, as Hiroya begins to spend more and more time in the library, he ends up getting a small job there itself, while following his passion for drawing, illustrating and reading manga comics. And finally, Masao realises that retiring from work is not the same as retiring from society and life in general.

Favourite Quote from Michiko Aoyama’s What You Are Looking For Is in the Library

Readers make their own personal connections to words, irrespective of the writer’s intentions, and each reader gains something unique.


Ultimately, this delightful book, written powerfully and straightforwardly, is about the magic of libraries and finding connections. What You Are Looking For Is in the Library is perfect for anyone who needs an uplifting read, sprinkled with little life lessons that don’t sound preachy.

Everybody is connected. And any one of their connections could be the start of a network that branches in many directions. If you wait for the right time to make connections, it might never happen, but if you show your face around, talk to people and see enough to give you the confidence that things could work out, then ‘one day’ might turn into ‘tomorrow’.

Michiko Aoyama, What You are Looking for is in the Library
Neha Kirpal

Neha Kirpal

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