Cover Image: The Library Book

The Library Book

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this book, although it could be I related to it in a professional capacity. I enjoyed all three aspects of the story - the history of the LA public library; the fire and investigation; and the library’s present and future.
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In 1986, the Central Los Angeles was almost destroyed by a fire. 400,000 books were destroyed, some irreplaceable, and 700,000 more were damaged. The fire was determined to be arson but, despite a strong suspect, no one has ever been charged.

Years later, writer Susan Orleans learned of the fire and determined to write a book about it - The Library Book was the very interesting result. She discusses the fire in detail as well as the reactions of the library staff and patrons but although the fire and the suspect, who has since died, play a large part in the story, it also looks at the history of the library from its inceptions, the many librarians over the years, the changes they made to the library, and a bit about their varied private lives. She also talks to present staff and discusses the surprisingly wide variety of services the library offers. At times, especially near the end, the amount of detail became somewhat overwhelming but, for anyone who loves books and libraries, this is a definite must read.

Thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review
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RATING: 5 STARS
2018; Simon & Schuster Canada

Several years ago, I read Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession and I had a hard time reading and finishing it. I had seen the movie, Adaption first and had some expectations that fell a bit short (I also wasn't a fan of the movie). I guess this sort of swayed me away from picking up another Orlean's book. Over time I wondered if it was just the subject matter, or Orlean's writing. Then I saw this red book with the title, The Library Book and well, I just could not resist. Here we go, Susan...let's see what happens.

From briefly reading the synopsis, I thought this book was true crime. In particular, discovering who burned down the LA library in 1986. However, this book is only part true crime. It is also history, libraries, memoir, etc and how the burning of the library led Orlean to discover what libraries, books and reading means in a greater scope. After chapter one I was hooked! If I had had time, I would have read this one in one sitting. This is a great book for all readers and non-readers. It has everything to keep a reader interested and convert someone to become a reader. While all the chapters in this book relate to one another you can read this slowly over time and not get lost. When I put this book down, it still stayed in my thoughts, and even now as I write this review I am smiling thinking of it. This is a book I know I will come back to again...and I am ready to read another Orlean book!

***I received an eARC from NETGALLEY***

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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Very intriguing oremise, a beautiful style of writing. Very interesting book overall!!
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Parts of this book were excellent and other parts were just average. And while it is predominantly about the 1986 fire in the Central Branch of the LA Public Library, it is really about so much more. Some might argue, too much more.  I agree with other reviews I've read that suggest the book needed another good edit.   Still, it's a booklover's dream of a book and a library-lover's dream of a book. The bits of library-lore are superb. I'm giving it 4* and suggesting that readers feel free to skim past the parts that interest them less. (less) [edi
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A very educational and interesting read. I had no previous knowledge of the fire at the Los Angeles Public Library, so this was very fresh and entertaining for me. I really enjoyed learning more about libraries and this one specifically.
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This is a book for library lovers. Based on the book’s blurb, I expected a true crime type of read with a big love letter to libraries. And it is. Orlean’s clearly describes the 1986 fire that decimated the Los Angeles Public Library - a fire that reached 2000 degrees, ruined 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 others. She also touches on the mystery of the culprit’s identity (although I was hoping for more) but ultimately, it's a book about the history of libraries and the important role they play that gave this bookworm all the biblio feels.

I could have read all day about libraries and their pivotal role in society, but a fair bit of the book is spent veering off on smaller tangents. Some of these side stories were interesting but others focused on people who were loosely related to the LAPL and these stories often started to ramble. These tangents gave the book a choppy feel and personally, I just wanted to get back to the LA library main story!   

But, if readers can be patient and wade through these extra bits, there are some hidden gems that library lovers (and especially library personnel) will relate to and enjoy. These bits will evoke feelings of nostalgia in library lovers and a deep need to visit their local library.  While the focus was different than I had expected, I applaud Orlean for shining a spotlight on the importance of libraries, the vast array of services they provide as well as their constantly evolving roles in communities big and small.
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Entertaining, poignant, and educational. A fast fun read, one that provided great insight into an often overlooked and forgotten incident.  Highly recommended, especially for anyone that loves books or libraries.
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This was a surprise. I clicked on a whim and am glad I did. This will be on every list this winter as a love letter to libraries and theyw will be correct.
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