The Library Book, by Susan Orlean

14 Feb
the library book susan orlean

FIVE of Five stars

I went into this book completely blind, I didn’t even know it was non-fiction until I started. Then I realized it was supposed to be about the great Los Angeles Central Library fire of 1986 so I was excited about reading a great mystery involving a library.

Except it’s not much about that because no one really knows who or what started the fire. So in between a very few pages about a suspect who many people including myself really doubt was the culprit, we are led on an extensive history of the Central Library, its history of librarians, libraries of the world, fires in libraries, fire research, etc. It feels like this book would be super interesting to any reader or book lover. I seriously loved it.

On the other hand, there is a LOT of information. Not everyone may want to read the biography of every single librarian of Los Angeles history. Not everyone may want to read about the day to day minutiae of running different aspects of a library. Some people may want to skip over anything to do with the sad story of arson suspect Harry Peak – I mean, spoiler alert, there is no evidence he did it. If you don’t think you want to hear about every single detail of library history, I don’t recommend getting the audiobook. The good news is everything is broken up into very specific sections, and in a reading book they are easy to skip if you want. I had the Kindle version, so I read every detail of most parts and skimmed through a couple parts.

Overall I absolutely loved the book. It made me want to be a librarian, it made me happy I wasn’t a librarian. It made me look at libraries and the people who work there in a whole new way. I wish there could have been more information about the cause of the fire but the fact is that there just isn’t much information. But for that one thing, the book is filled with fascinating characters and more information than I knew was possible. I absolutely loved this book.

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