The Night Bookmobile, Hardback
4 out of 5 (13 ratings)


Audrey Niffenegger's two novels, "The Time Traveler's Wife" and "Her Fearful Symmetry", have made her one of the most popular writers in the world.

She is also the author of two extraordinary novels-in-pictures, "The Three Incestuous Sisters" and "The Adventuress".

Now, with "The Night Bookmobile", she has written her first graphic novel.

First serialised in the "Guardian", "The Night Bookmobile" tells the story of a young woman who one night encounters a mysterious disappearing mobile library that happens to stock every book she has ever read.

Seeing her history and her most intimate self in this library, she embarks on a search for the bookmobile.

Over time, her search turns into an obsession as she longs to be reunited with her own collection and her memories.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 40 pages, chiefly Illustrations
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Comics and Graphic Novels
  • ISBN: 9780224089524



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Showing 1 - 5 of 13 reviews.

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Review by

I can't praise 'The Night Bookmobile' highly enough. It's painfully astute in recognising the thin line readers negotiate when losing themselves in and to books. And as a meditation on life it is utterly heartbreaking.Read it, weep, read it again, weep some more: and try looking at your own shelves in the same way afterwards. It simply cannot be done.

Review by

An interesting read. Very identifiable, requiring a bit of suspension of disbelief, but still a good story.

Review by

I read this to fill in 15 minutes at work as the whole book (all 33 pages) is available on the Guardian website. My reaction to <i>The Time Traveller's Wife</i> should have warned me to stay away but I just couldn't help myself.This story is relatively simple - a young girl wandering through the streets at night comes across an old winnebago driven by a distinguished old man, she accepts his invitation and inside finds a library comprising of everything that she has ever read. The rest of story follows her attempts, over years, to find the night bookmobile again and become a librarian therein. Crucially Niffenegger misses the point of libraries: the night bookmobile contains all the books that an individual has read but surely a magical library would contain all the books an individual wants to read and books they could not obtain elsewhere, i.e., more novels by Austen or Dickens. That would be a library worth being obsessed about; a library of everything you have ever read could just be your bookshelves.Likewise Niffenegger says that the book is "a cautionary tale of the seductions of the written word" but it goes further than that - it could be subtitled "why you shouldn't waste your time with books". Loving books will make you obsessed, lonely, and capable of only living vicariously. Also, the young woman, is only seen reading in order to fill more shelves in the bookmobile; we never see the joy and wonder of reading another great book. As in <i>The Time Traveller's Wife</i> Niffenegger has created a concept-based work but failed to think through the ramifications of the original idea - it is ironic that Niffenegger is seen as being a clever writer when the final books are so dumb. While her artwork is perfectly acceptable her prose is as mediocre as before. If the night bookmobile ever tracks me down I will be throwing Niffenegger's books out when the librarian isn't looking.

Review by

Short, sweet, and somewhat tragic. The art is nothing spectacular, but it does its job well enough. I understand the pursuit of the main character, but don't see the reason behind the eventual conclusion. I don't often demand an explanation for things when I'm reading, because it usually serves the story, but in this case I feel it would have helped. Also, the central conceit of this story is actually somewhat defeated by the existence of LibraryThing, which I find very amusing.

Review by

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger was first serialized in The Guardian. I came across it through a number of book blogs that seem taken with the cover of Alexandra hugging the book she's reading. As I had so enjoyed Three Incestuous Sisters, I knew I wanted to read this graphic novel.Alexandra, angry after a fight with her boyfriend, wanders the streets one night. In her perambulations she discovers a night bookmobile, driven and maintained by Mr. Openshaw. His library on wheels oddly has every book she remembers reading, including the odds and ends she used as book marks. These aren't just books she remembers reading, these are the books she read — many long lost and forgotten.Rather than be completely grossed out by such an eerie thing, Alexandra finds a new obsession to fill the void in her life. She desperately wants to be a bookmobile librarian. She wants to apprentice under Mr. Openshaw. She does everything she can, including going to library school. Though she finds a new career as a librarian, it isn't the one she dreams of.Alexandra does ultimately reach her goal, but through extra-ordinary means. Her blinding obsession with books and a particular book mobile plays into a recurring theme I've seen in books or films where a librarian is the main character — loneliness and depression — the librarian who hides in her (almost always her) books. Niffenegger just takes it one doozy of a step further.Like Alexandra I've had an on again, off again affair with books and libraries. My first library encounter was also with a bookmobile — though we didn't actually get to into the vehicle — they were brought to us in a rented storefront. I don't see reading as a solitary, lonely or depressing thing. It's not a substitute for human interaction — it enhances those interactions. A librarian's primary function is to connect people and books. There's more human interaction than reading involved in the job.Also like Alexandra, I do sometimes dream about driving a bookmobile. In California that would require going back to driving school and getting a class C license. At the moment, I'm ready to be done with school, but maybe in a year or two, I'll revisit that dream.

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