Jennifer's Reviews > The Library Book

The Library Book by Susan Orlean
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bookshelves: adult-non-fiction, disappointing

Despite the rave reviews from some of my library friends and online acquaintances, I found this book disappointing.

It really seemed to lack focus and organization, rambling on and jumping back and forth among multiple timelines and going off on tangents. It really felt like the author couldn't decide what kind of a book she wanted to write: a history of the LA Public Library, an investigative story about the fire at Central Library, or about her own love of books and libraries, so she wrote about all three, jumping back and forth constantly.

It would have been so much better if she had picked one focus and organized the content more rather than just writing a stream of consciousness about her memories of doing research for the book. A history of the LA system would have been fine, a dramatic investigative story about the fire would've been even better.

As it was, though I did find a few interesting tidbits here and there, overall I was frustrated by the rambling narration, lack of focus, and jumping around and overall found it rather boring and anticlimactic. It's clear the author has a great love and appreciation for reading, books, and libraries, which I appreciate, but I think her view is rather romanticized and shows she hasn't *really* spent a lot of time in public libraries recently.

At one point she refers to the ambient noise in a public library as “it was purring with that soothing library noise-not a din, not a racket, just a constant, warm, shapeless sound...” She has clearly never been in the library children's department on a busy day, which can frequently qualify as sounding like a din or racket, punctuated with shrieks and crying from someone who is having a bad day, or at our main branch downtown, where shouting matches frequently break out among patrons or between patrons and security.

So my advice would be to save yourself some time and just Google the LA Public Library's Central Library fire and architecture instead.
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Reading Progress

July 4, 2019 – Started Reading
July 6, 2019 – Shelved
July 6, 2019 – Shelved as: adult-non-fiction
July 6, 2019 – Finished Reading
December 23, 2019 – Shelved as: disappointing

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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message 1: by Xyra (new)

Xyra Oh, wow! Yes, even my tiny public library is not the "soothing library noise" it was when I was younger. Even the librarians use their regular talking voice at greet and check out. The library noise I miss the most is the date stamper. :-D

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