Have you ever found a subject you want to know more about, so you dive into learning as much about it as you can? I know I do! The subject I have been researching for the past couple months is packhorse librarianship. In addition to the nonfiction books and research articles I have read, I have curated a list of fiction books about packhorse librarians that I have been making my way through.
The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer is the third adult fiction book about packhorse librarians that I have read thus far. Taking place during the Great Depression, Sawyer’s novel draws inspiration from the real Works Progress Administration program that sent librarians on horseback to deliver books to hill families in Kentucky.
Addie Cowherd wants to be a novelist. Adopted by her parents at a young age, Addie wants to give readers an escape into books like what she experienced during her tragic childhood. Working at a library while going to college, Addie believes that she has finally found a way to make her dreams come true. Life has other plans for her as her adoptive father loses his job and Addie realizes that she doesn’t have the funds necessary to complete her degree. Forced to leave college and without the safety net of her parents to fall back on, Addie sets out to find a job which proves difficult given that it’s the Great Depression. Addie finally finds a job delivering books on horseback in the hills of Kentucky to poor coal mining families. Working in a library delivering books sounds perfect to Addie. She quickly spins ideas of what she’ll do and all the friends she will make once she gets to town.
As soon as Addie sets foot in Boone’s Hollow, her perfect ideas go up in smoke. The library in Boone’s Hollow is nothing like she thought. The residents in Boone’s Hollow are superstitious and wary of any outsiders. Locals who leave and come back are even subject to scrutiny. As Addie tries to find a new rhythm and gain the trust of the locals, she learns the truth about a decades-old rivalry that dictates many of the town’s actions. When someone decides to sabotage the library program, Addie and the other librarians have to work together to keep the program going or it will crumble into nothing.
Want to check out other fiction books about packhorse librarians? Below are two others available at the Davenport Public Library: