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The Library Book - Susan Orlean
The Library Book
by: (author)
4.50 60
On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye,... show more
On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

Along the way, Orlean introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters from libraries past and present—from Mary Foy, who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the Los Angeles Public Library at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, a pastor, citrus farmer, and polymath known as “The Human Encyclopedia” who roamed the library dispensing information; from Charles Lummis, a wildly eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the current staff, who do heroic work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.

Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country. It is also a master journalist’s reminder that, perhaps especially in the digital era, they are more necessary than ever.
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Format: hardcover
ISBN: 9781476740188 (1476740186)
ASIN: B07CL5ZLHX
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Pages no: 318
Edition language: English
Category:
Non Fiction, History
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Community Reviews
My Never Ending List
My Never Ending List rated it
4.5 The Library Book
I just have to say “wow!” I never expected this book to be packed with so much information. At times, it almost felt overwhelming. Centered around the 1986 Los Angeles library fire which burned for more than 7 hours and consumed 400,000 books, this book is not just about that fire. This book is abou...
Reading For The Heck Of It
Reading For The Heck Of It rated it
5.0 A love letter to libraries
Right after I joined the library where I'm currently working the (now retired) Library Manager gave me an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) of a book that he said I'd "really like". Since we had known each other less than a week I took it at face value and slipped it into my desk drawer. Three months lat...
Defenestraethe
Defenestraethe rated it
5.0 The Library Book - Susan Orlean
Orlean is one of my favorite nonfiction writers. The topic doesn't matter, she's going to teach me something weird and wonderful and even if she doesn't spark an obsession in me, she does a brilliant job of explaining why other people love whatever it is so much. So, yeah, no surprise that I was w...
bestwineforlast
bestwineforlast rated it
5.0 Wow!
What die-hard book lover doesn't like books about books, or books about the places they are stored, or the sometimes fascinating lives of some of the people through history who championed for books to be available to the common person through libraries? The main focus of "The Library Book" was LA's ...
Chris Blocker
Chris Blocker rated it
3.0 Review: The Library Book
Prior to the arrival of this book, I was unfamiliar with the Los Angeles library fire of 1986. I'd never noticed journalist and author Susan Orlean before. When I read the description for The Library Book, however, I was intrigued. This sounded like a fabulous, riveting book. Here was the story of a...
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