The Library Book

A fiery story about what a library can mean to us – community, learning, solitude; the creation and proliferation of libraries; and what can happen when one goes up in flames.
 

Synopsis:

In 1986, the Los Angeles Central Library burned for more than 7 hours at over 2,000 degrees, ruining or damaging over a million books. The lead investigators zeroed in on one prime suspect but were never able to secure a conviction. Did they come to the right conclusions?

Susan Orlean combines this mystery with the broader story of libraries and their staff, building a case for how very necessary they are in our society. Mesmerizing and warm, the expansive research done to bring to life this place and its people creates a story that can open our hearts to the importance of libraries.

The library is a whispering post. You don’t need to take a book off a shelf to know there is a voice inside that is waiting to speak to you, and behind that was someone who truly believed that if he or she spoke, someone would listen.
It was that affirmation that always amazed me. Even the oddest, most peculiar book was written with that kind of courage – the writer’s belief that someone would find his or her book important to read. I was struck by how precious and foolish and brave that belief is, and how necessary, and how full of hope it is to collect these books and manuscripts and preserve them.
It declares that stories matter, and so does every effort to create something that connects us to one another, and to our past, and to what is still to come.

— Susan Orlean

Review:

Orlean weaves her tale in three intersecting threads: the current state and importance of the worldwide library system and how it might grow in the future, the history of the library system and community in Los Angeles, California, and the mystery surrounding the actual Los Angeles Central Library fire of 1986. In that respect, this is definitely not a “who-dunnit” arson mystery. It’s more of an over-arching look at the surrounding facts and dates and, in some instances, small biographies of the relevant people.

While not always a fast-paced read, The Library Book definitely delivers in heart, and in the context of library awareness. It expounds on the merits of free educational and societal resources, going so far as to claim them as a basic human right. Pondering the details of the 1986 library fire in extensive detail, her resulting conclusions are plausible and fair.

As a massive (self-proclaimed) bibliophile/bookworm, I really loved this book and can forgive the sporadic slow pace for the wealth of information and the passion in the belief of the library system. I adore books. I adore free books. And I adore a place that welcomes everyone and anyone – that opens its arms and says…

All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library’s simple unspoken promise: Here I am, please tell me your story; here is my story, please listen.

— Susan Orlean

The Library Book
by Susan Orlean
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 16th 2018 by Simon & Schuster

Summary

A fiery story about what a library can mean to us - community, learning, solitude; the creation and proliferation of libraries; and what can happen when one goes up in flames. As a massive (self-proclaimed) bibliophile/bookworm, I really loved this book for the wealth of information and the passion in the belief of the library system. I adore books. And I adore a place that welcomes everyone and anyone - that opens its arms and says..."Here I am, please tell me your story; here is my story, please listen."

— Cassie
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