The Library Book by Sean Orlean
What’s it about?
Susan Orlean explores a fire that occurred at the Los Angeles Public Library in the spring of 1986. When the fire quit burning it had consumed 400,000 books and damaged another 700,000. Orleans uses the Los Angeles fire as a jumping off point to explore arson, but she explores at greater length how libraries have evolved over the years.
What did it make me think about?
Some of my earliest memories are of going to the library as a child- not always willingly- but we went a lot. "Decades had passed and I was threee thousand miles away, but I was whisked back in time and place, back to the scenario of walking into the library with my mother. Nothing had changed- there was the same soft tsk-tsk-tsk of pencil and paper, and the muffled murmuring from patrons at the tables in the center of the room, and the creak and groan of book carts, and the occasional papery clunk of a book dropped on the desk. ..... It wasn't that time stopped in the library. It was as if it were captured here, collected here, and in all libraries- and not only my time, my life, but all human time as well. In the library, time is dammed up- not just stopped but saved. The library is gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever." This book took me back and it also emphasized that libraries are an ever changing place.
Should I read it?
This was a really good book about a subject that could be considered dry. If you are looking for a crime book- then be aware that this does explore the library fire but it is about so much more. If you are looking for a book that explores where libraries have been and where they are going- then this book is a great choice.
"The publicness of the public library is an increasingly rare commodity. It becomes harder all the time to think of places that welcome everyone and don't charge any money for that warm embrace. The commitment to inclusion is so powerful that many decisions about the library hinge on whether or not a particular choice would cause a subset of the public to feel uninvited."
"Libraries have become a defect community center for the homeless across the globe. There is not a library in the world that hasn't grappled with the issue of how- and how much- to provide for the homeless. Many librarians have told me that they consider this the defining question facing libraries right now."
If you like this try-
Ghettoside A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy
My Brother Moochie by Issac J. Bailey
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
8 1/2 stars
best of summer/fall 2019
best of winter/spring 2019
best of summer/ fall 2018
best of winter/spring 2017-18
best of spring/summer 2017
best of winter
best of summer 2014
last spring favorites
on my nightstand
edge of your seat
― Charles William Eliot
3 to 4- I found some aspect of this book redeeming but would not recommend it.
5 to 6- I really enjoyed something about this book (characters, plot, meaning etc.) but it was uneven. Some aspects were stronger than others.
7 to 8- It was a good book. I liked lots of aspects of this book. I would recommend it.
9 to 10- I was sorry to turn the last page. I highly recommend this book!