‘Whenever people interact, that is being part of society. And the things that happen as a result of those points of contact exist in the past and the future.’ When you read this, are you reading a piece of profound wisdom? A pointless statement of the obvious? Or a simple truth that might sometimes bear repeating? Where you fall in your response to the opening quotation is a fair measure of how you’ll get on with Michiko Aoyama’s new novel.

In What You Are Looking For Is In The Library, five dissatisfied Tokyoites wind up finding what they’re looking for – you guessed it – in the library. This particular library belongs to a small community centre at which each of the five central characters arrive in search of, initially, some small, practical benefit – like a course in Excel, or some picture books for one’s little girl. What they find behind a small partition is a gigantic, pale, uncanny librarian with a passion for felting, incredible typing speed, and a preternatural ability to guide people towards books that will alter their lives.

Our gigantic empath, Ms Komachi, opens each interaction with, ‘What are you looking for?’ (Is this trite and predictable, or a powerful posing of the question we all must ask ourselves?) For the five characters, the answer is always fulfilment through connection. Each one feels isolated, either from others, or from the self they wish they could (have) become, or both. Through Ms Komachi’s intervention, and their own small braveries, they come to learn that ‘Everybody is connected. And any one of their connections could be the start of a network that branches in many directions’. Needless to say, we eventually find out that each of the five characters is connected by more than just their visits to the same library, and that establishing and understanding life’s interconnectedness is key to navigating towards your own happy ending.

This is a novel that I can see having a similar life to Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Almost certainly, there will be people on Instagram claiming to have had their lives changed by it. There will probably be a TV or film adaptation. At the same time, people eager to enhance their intellectual credentials will mock both the book and those who laud it. I suppose, in one sense, then, this is a book that everyone will get something out of, even if that thing is over the top, unmerited and/or irrelevant. For this reader, it feels silly to get worked up about generally positive simple truths being repeated. There are much better novels that repeat the simple truths of Aoyama’s book, sure, but that doesn’t render its charm worthless.