The Library Book ~ by Susan Orlean

This one is interesting. I read it for a reading group (All-Nonfiction) and found myself bored for along time. I had only the Kindle version because the narrator in the sample sounded so bad. I’m not crazy about Kindle only anymore but I’ll still do it if necessary.

Back in 1986 the Los Angeles Public Library was pretty much destroyed by fire and in early 1987 a young wanna-be actor named Harry Peak was arrested for arson. think I might remember hearing about it but I’m really not sure.

The Library Book
by Susan Orlean
2018 / 336 pages
rating – 8

This book chronicles the life and functions of the library which are many and diverse – great fun from the origins thought the architecture and the lives of its librarians. It also explores the charges of arson against Peak and that’s page-turning.

There are chapters about the fire itself and those who reported it or fought it. There are chapters about the librarians who worked there and their jobs. There are chapters about the clean-up and restoration/remodeling. And of course there are chapters about Peak. It seems kind of wide ranging, but when you consider the title it could be a book about libraries in general rather than a book from the library. IT’s about one library and libraries in general plus the fact that this library was the victim of a terrible fire.

If you enjoy libraries you might find this book to your liking. At one point in my college days I seriously considered becoming a librarian so it was fascinating to me.

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6 Responses to The Library Book ~ by Susan Orlean

  1. jameswharris says:

    I didn’t like the narration either, but it’s the author, Susan Orlean. She’s okay, but I felt they should have let a professional do the reading.

    I love libraries and resonated with this book, but Orlean used too many superlatives in her sentences, trying to make certain aspects of the library more epic in scope.

    I also wanted to be a librarian. I’ve worked in both a public and academic library, but never got my MLS.


  2. Author sometimes often lousy narrators. Yes, Orlean was kind of trying to sell libraries as “the coming thing” or something. Not here although maybe they could be – maybe they are in some communities? (The library school where I was going to go lost it’s credential for the one year I was applying. I ended up in Public Administration for my masters program.


  3. I just finished reading (and reviewing) this book. I found the cast of characters fascinating as well as the history of libraries. Orlean managed to turn the LA Library fire into a true crime drama.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My book group read this in July of 2019 and I was so fascinated by it that I started a master’s degree in library science the next month, part-time at night on Zoom. In December, I am traveling to my in-person graduation in Mississippi!

    Liked by 1 person

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