The Library Book by Susan Orlean

1. First lines. 2. Publisher: Simon Schuster 3. Los Angeles Public Library, courtesy, California Historical Society, CHS2015.1897. 4. Examining the damage after the 1986 fire, which was determined to be arson. Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times
I liked this book.
So much detail to wade through, and sometimes over-dramatised, but a host of eccentric, quirky and oddball characters involved with the Library

This is the story of the Los Angeles Public Library fire of 1986, detailing the history of the Library, and the investigation into the cause of the fire.

“The smoke began to coil upward, drifting through the open grating of the shelves like a ghost.”
“Apparently everyone in Los Angeles gets on a computer right after Thanksgiving and makes requests for diet books.”
“In Los Angeles, your eye keeps reaching for an end-point and never finds it, because it doesn’t exist.”

Quotes from the book.
  • Washington Post: “Orlean, a longtime New Yorker writer, has been captivating us with human stories for decades, and her latest book is a wide-ranging, deeply personal and terrifically engaging investigation of humanity’s bulwark against oblivion: the library.”
  • Kirkus Reviews: Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Excerpt online at Simon and Schuster | Reading Group Guide online at Simon and Schuster | Author’s website


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