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The Book of Flying

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,568 ratings  ·  247 reviews
In Keith Miller's debut novel, our hero is Pico, a poet and librarian who is forbidden to pursue the girl of his dreams - for she has wings, and Pico does not. When he discovers an ancient letter in his library telling of the mythical Morning Town where the flightless may gain their wings, he sets off on a quest. It's a magical journey and coming-of-age story in which he m ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 4th 2005 by Riverhead Books (first published January 26th 2004)
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Kim Perhaps if you contacted the Author he might be able to give you some suggestions. I don't use ebooks, or any electronic books .... so I have no knowl…morePerhaps if you contacted the Author he might be able to give you some suggestions. I don't use ebooks, or any electronic books .... so I have no knowledge of where to look. Good Luck. (less)

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Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,568 ratings  ·  247 reviews

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Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2019-shelf
What might seem like a fairly straightforward quest involving Pico the librarian loving and losing his winged Sisi and going out on a quest to find his own wings or die trying quickly turns into one of the best Story-within-Story books I've read in a long time.

Why? Because he's a hopeless poet and a hapless adventurer. He's full of quirky stories told semi-inappropriately, falling in with bandits, having tea with minotaurs, and being lonely in young, vibrant crowds. Falling in love with literary
Nov 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who loves books, journeys, food, coffee, and imaginative books
This is my new favorite book. I simply can't think of any book that compares to it. Strangely, I found a hard back version of the book for $1 at the local dollar store which is not a place you normally think you're going to find the book that you fall in love with.

The Book of Flying is an adult fairy tale about Pico, the only librarian in a city by the sea. Pico's parents both had wings, but he was born wingless. Unfortunately, he falls in love with a winged woman who tells him that she can't l
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: perennial-reads
"Nothing equaled rereading a loved book." (166)

The moment I saw this little morsel of truth, I had to earmark it. In spite of how sparse a quote it is (compared to the other delicious passages I've marked), it made my heart leap with agreement, with understanding. I've read this book four times, one of those times aloud. I'm going to keep picking it up, over and over through the years, until I'm dead. I may yet be buried with it.

Nothing equals finding a book that, for you, deserves to be reread
Hannah Greendale
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Click here to watch a video featuring this book on my book channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

The Book of Flying is saturated with evocative appeal. It's beautifully written. Delectable. To be lured and held captive by its pages is a rapturous affair, like watching hot caramel drizzle over voluptuous scoops of vanilla ice cream.

A few well placed commas would have made for a slightly smoother read.

[Note: What is with Keith Miller's depiction of female characters? Buxom and dancing, topless and
Jun 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kelley
Recommended to Hallie by: Rachel
I wanted to really love this book, but the writing style bothered me a bit. There was so much alliteration it was distracting. Even so, I really liked the story. Or rather stories - it was more like a collection of short stories set within the framework of the character's quest. They have a lovely fantastical quality to them - some fantasy books draw you into the world so thoroughly that you feel like it's normal; this one keeps a sort of alien quality about it, which I like. The general aura of ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
When I picked this book up from the library and read the blurb I thought perhaps I had made a mistake. But the premise sounded interesting so I decided to give it a go.

Lots of things made me angry about this book but the thing that annoyed me most was how every woman Pico meets on his journey is described as being incredibly beautiful (except for the dwarf chef lady, who is hideously ugly), and the majority of them want to sleep with Pico, despite the fact that he lacks anything resembling a per
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Angie by: Heidi
It makes me sad that Miller is apparently such an unknown author when so much cruddier stuff like what Nicholas Sparks or Dan Brown or Stephenie Meyer throw out there is on best seller lists. This is really a brilliant little book. I was impressed from the first paragraph (which I immediately made Dan read). It's reminiscent of Marquez and the like---the strange dream-like quality, the characters whose emotions and actions don't quite seem human---too large or too small, but still reflective of ...more
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves the strange and fascinating.
Simply the best book I have ever read. I found it several years ago in a little discount book store on the Jersey Shore, only a few dollars for a hard-back copy. Like almost everyone else, I picked it up for the cover and title alone, and was surprised to find probably the most amazingly written and unique piece of literature I've ever come across. I took it with me to Europe the week after I left New Jersey and spent probably more time reading it than looking at the beautiful Italian cities and ...more
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-l-i-r, 2011
An aimless amalgam of alliteration obscures the storyline, as the artist's brush masks the pristine canvas with layers of azure, ochre, vermilion and lime, and creates a showcase for literary device, caging the budding narrative in a wash of winsome words.

As I read this novel, I was captivated by the first few paragraphs, but then annoyed by Miller's overuse of poetic devices. By mid-novel, he seemed to catch his stride and start developing his story, but even then over filled the pages with bo
The story has a dream-like quality, contributed by the use of the present tense in the narrative. This meshes well with the fairy tale nature of the story as well, with flying girls, a talking rabbit, a minotaur, a robber queen, and an immortal cannibal. But for all of the beautiful language through word choice and consonance, it isn't an enjoyable story. Perhaps it was written after a terrible breakup, because every single character hurts and is hurt, terminally in most cases, by the object of ...more
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Miller’s use of alliteration and simile carried me along on a surprising melody in prose that reads like poetry. After reading a few paragraphs I became aware of the rhythm, but soon sunk back into the story He wastes no time in epic background stories; instead it only takes a few sentences to impart the story of Pico’s life to date and to appreciate his yearnings. So after only a few chapters I was off on a quest and an unparalleled adventure.

This is a coming of age fairytale for adults not chi
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Aliyah by: Zaha Gheryania-shtewi
Shelves: favorites
Unlike any other reading experience I've had before.
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ER
Just came back from the Woodstock Library Book Group, of nine women, five were amazed, four admitted Anita Bookner as their favorite author and hated, strongly despised The Book. The two professional authors, that's me and an University professor, were swept away by the concept, the symbology, the magic realism, the metaphors, the STORY! and Master Rabbit. The only Fantasy reader felt it needed a good editing - if Riverhead Press cannot edit, I ask you who can? I am going to buy this book, and o ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
The premise of the book was really interesting and I actually found the book from Goodreads. The book is written in a Shakespearian manner and thus in some cases it is hard to follow. The poems and stories are wonderful and the whole book can be described as elegant.

Sadly so the main character is detestable and plain dumb. The problem is that we don't know his age (among other things) - only that he's a librarian. Also, he has read all the books in the library and is a poet, but is utterly naive
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm only a little more than halfway through this book but just wanted to say it's one of the best books I've read in a long time. This epic fairy tale is the perfect bedtime reading, full of beautiful, magical places and characters. Little Pico the poet/librarian is on a quest to find a town he's heard of where he can read the Book of Flying and get his wings so he can return home and be with his dream girl who, like his parents, was born with wings. In his travels he meets a band of thieves, a ...more
Nov 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was incredibly important to me for a year of my life and I will always be grateful. I read the entire thing aloud to my friends in college and they were spellbound.
The writing is the most superb combination of prose and poetic language I have ever seen. It is a pleasure to read and to speak out loud. The characters are beloved and entrancing, the world beautiful and fascinating. It is a story about stories, an ode to journeys, dreams, love, and flight in every form.
I loved it so much.
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book was like eating candy. The plot line was on the traditional side, but the story was written so well! Imagine very readable poetry that doesn't have all the line breaks. Well, there you go. That's this book. Complete with that feeling you get while reading poetry. Makes you want to smoke cigarettes and fall in love, hard.
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fun
It's like The Neverending Story meets Neverwhere. It's creepy and eloquent. Pico's the new Odysseus.
Educating Drew
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, fantasy
Meet Pico, a librarian in a magical world of winged men and humans:

"He is pale from days indoors, thin from forgetting to eat. He cares fastidiously for the library no one comes to, sweeping and mopping the floor, dusting the books with ostrich plumes, watering the irises that grow beside the door. He is vigilant against mice, silverfish, wary of fire. And he loves to read. He loves the whisper of the pages and the way his fingertips catch on rough paper, the pour of the words up from the leave
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
4 1/2 stars. I hate to use this term, but it fits it best, dream-like, to describe the writing and the flow of this story. There is a softness to it and a blurry edge like a dream but the subject matter is not always sweet. Beautiful language and beautiful stories that make a modern fairy tale. There is sadness and tragedy but also lessons of perseverance, hope, and love that makes life worth living.

Read it for wonder and adventure but reread it for the beauty and things you can learn.
Chris Youngblood
Jun 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, fantasy, owned
This is a strange book that I've found difficult to categorize. It's almost like a faerie tale the way faerie tales should be told - not everything turns out right; the prince doesn't always wake the princess from her eternal sleep, and the wicked witch doesn't always meet her justifiable end. People die in this book, and there is a lot of sex that is as far from the sanitized Disney-esque romance crap as one can get without actually becoming blatantly pornographic. The hero does things that cla ...more
Robert Fischer
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not normally one for fiction, but this book came very highly recommended to me from someone whose tastes run similar to mine. I am glad I took the recommendation: this book is excellent.

The book is a kind of adult fairy tale -- and not "young adult", seriously adult. It is a style akin to some of Gaiman's more adult pieces, although even more fanciful in style. The narrative style is like a campfire remembrance or a wandering train of thought, very different from the more traditional narrat
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This is one of my top five favorite books of all time. Oh, I love this book.

I first found it in a library where I picked it up for the title alone, then proceeded to reread it five times over the course of the next year and a half. I didn’t buy myself a copy until a dear friend of mine gave me a spending spree in a remainder bookstore (frankly, one of the best Christmas presents in the history of the world ever. Forty bucks travels an obscenely long way at a remainder bookstore, particularly whe
Michael Lawrence
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Okay, so I won't write too many reviews... I like to read from so many different subjects and know that what I like might not be for anyone else. Books to me come in different weights, there really is no better description that I can use. Loved Harry Potter, very imaginative and kept me turning the pages. Liked Stephen King's the Stand as well, however this book caught me by suprise.

To sum up this book in one word... insidious. It's such a dense read and yet so wildly imaginative you'd feel like
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Forget the plot, the writing in this book is taking a long, warm bath. Rich prose and lovely world building - a strange little treat of a book.

Quote-able passage...

"His name is Pico. He is pale from days indoors, thin from forgetting to eat. He cares fastidiously for the library no one comes to, sweeping and mopping the floor, dusting the books with ostrich plumes, watering the irises that grow beside the door. He is vigilant against mice, silverfish, wary of fire. And he loves to
Michelle F
Beautifully heartbreaking, and beautifully hopeful.

I get picky when prose gets poetic. I find that I lean towards functional first - to read what a story says - before I can begin to appreciate how a story sounds. Miller manages to write a fantastically gorgeous journey of love and solitude by 'renaming': he "arrive[s] at the nature of a thing by calling it something else." And it is wonderful.

Pico (a librarian who loves stories), goes on a great quest: to gain his wings and therefore the heart
Aug 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I think people love this book because the author's prose can be quite lovely, even transcendent. Yet Miller demonstrates several of my pet peeves: prose that gets quite purple at times (the alliteration can go especially overboard), the stock characters of the whores with hearts of gold (quite a few of them--about half the book's main characters), the journey made out of love for a character we never know (it doesn't get more tedious), and the faux-profundity achieved by killing off almost every ...more
May 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adultfiction
A strangely engrossing read that relies heavily on details and the power of stories. This is not a typical read for me, but the pace and content of the book were completely satisfying. The story is at times completely bizarre, but the author uses basic human feelings and reactions to make the reader somehow able to relate to the story.

Not sure why our library put this in the teen section, but it really is more a book for adults (don't worry, I have contacted the appropriate authorities to rectif
Sep 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This has become my all time favorite book; like Alice in Wonderland for adults. The story can be surface or very deep, depending on your choice and mood for interpretations. The writing style is nothing short of exquisite, and the use of words is nothing short of truly artistic; it felt like I was in a dream, and not reading. The characters and setting are extremely memorable; definitely recommended to anyone who is looking for a spiritual journey or just amusement.
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
What an amazing adult fairly tale. Each chapter is it's own little story as we follow Pico on this journey to get wings so he can be with the winged-woman he loves so much. A bit philosophical and bittersweet. I'm giving this one as a gift to someone special this year. A must-read for all the dreamers among us.
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Keith Miller (born 1969) is an American author who has written The Book of Flying, The Book on Fire, and The Sins of Angels. Visit his website at and his blog at ...more

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