The Library Book

Susan Orlean
On April 29, 1986 the Los Angeles Public Library burned down. It burned for 7 hours. We don’t know or remember much about it because it was underreported due to an incident called Chernobyl taking over the news cycle. In her exquisite writing style, Susan Orlean takes on the research of this fire, as well as the history of libraries throughout time.

Orlean learns about the fire when she takes her child to visit the LAPL. This, as well as fond memories of attending her child hood library in Ohio with her Mother, sparks her curiosity to dig deeper. A man named Harry Peak, a small time actor wannabe was the only suspect, but the cause of the fire, possible arson, is still unsolved. Orlean turns into investigative reporter as she pours through city and library files as well as shadowing Los Angeles librarians as she tries to finds answers. What she does find is the extent of books, manuscripts, maps, menus, ephemera and more that the LAPL carries, which unfolds the history of Los Angeles and it’s astounding library.

In what becomes a love story to libraries, The Library Book tells a story. A story of a fire, a story of Los Angeles, a story of the impact and importance of libraries on their communities. With many colorful characters, facts, research and interesting chapter layouts from the Dewey Decimal System, Susan Orlean delivers a non-fiction book that reads like a fiction. The friend who handed it to me and said “just read it” was right. I couldn’t put it down. I hope you relish it as well.
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