by Cathryn Conroy (Gaithersburg, Maryland): Oh, this book is a little treasure. It made me smile and it made me tear up (a lot!), but most of all, it touched my heart. If you love cats, reading, and libraries—or any one of those—this is a must-read.

Written by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter, this is the astonishing and heartwarming story of a fluffy orange cat named Dewey Readmore Books. Vicky Myron was the director of the Spencer (Iowa) Public Library, and on a frigidly cold morning in January 1988, she found an 8-week-old kitten someone had stuffed into the library after-hours book return box. After a bath, warm blankets, cuddles, and food, the kitten was transformed from a gray, shivering mass to a fluffy orange kitten that captured everyone’s heart. It was decided that they would keep the kitten, and its home would be the library.

This book is the story of Dewey, a cat with an outsized personality whose goal in life was to greet everyone who came into the library and then make each person fall in love with him. The individual stories of Dewey’s antics are precious, especially how he deals with disabled children, lonely seniors, staid businessmen in fussy suits, and feisty children.

As much as this book is about Dewey, it is also about the author’s unlikely and difficult path to library work, the challenges facing all libraries, especially small-town libraries, and the difficulties endured by Heartland communities that have traditionally relied on family farms as their economic driver. Most of all, it is a tender love letter to libraries and their vital importance to the health and welfare of communities.

Bonus: The book is filled with pithy life advice all based on how Dewey acts towards people and makes them feel. Here is my favorite: “Find your place. Be happy with what you have. Treat everyone well. Live a good life. It isn’t about material things; it’s about love. And you can never anticipate love.”

This is a delightful, almost magical book I will long remember.