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The Library Book
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Archive - Group Reads > The Library Book by Susan Orlean - October 2019

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message 1: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 1248 comments Mod
Hello fellow True Crime readers! This discussion is about >b>The Library Book by Susan Orlean, your discussion leader is Gem.
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about spoilers

Please note: If you have not finished reading the book spoilers are permitted in this discussion from the start.
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The Library Book by Susan Orlean The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Summary

On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

Along the way, Orlean introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters from libraries past and present—from Mary Foy, who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the Los Angeles Public Library at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, a pastor, citrus farmer, and polymath known as “The Human Encyclopedia” who roamed the library dispensing information; from Charles Lummis, a wildly eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the current staff, who do heroic work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.

Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country. It is also a master journalist’s reminder that, perhaps especially in the digital era, they are more necessary than ever.


Diane-OP | 1027 comments I love this book. Read a library copy but had to buy my own!


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 1452 comments Mod
Diane-OP wrote: "I love this book. Read a library copy but had to buy my own!"

Good to know. I haven't read more than a few lines but I'm looking forward to it.


message 5: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 1248 comments Mod
I folk, I'm going to be leading this discussion. Bear with me, I'm determined to finish I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (September's True Crime). I'm hoping to be done today... that books is driving me crazy.


Richard (zenboy) This was one of my favorite books last year!


message 7: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 1248 comments Mod
Richard wrote: "This was one of my favorite books last year!"

I'm so glad to hear that, especially after last month's read.


Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) Also one of my favorites of 2019! So much to enjoy if you love libraries. I learned a lot. Will join in on the conversation.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 1452 comments Mod
Almost finished. This is an amazing story. The gallons of water that were gotten from the pages of the books is just staggering.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 1452 comments Mod
Not at all what I expected as a true crime book.


message 11: by Icewineanne, Moderator (new)

Icewineanne | 651 comments Mod
Just saw this thread. Will put in for a copy & hopefully join in soon 😉


PattyMacDotComma | 166 comments I read this last year and really enjoyed it. I thought of it more as history than true crime, because what interested me so much was the scale of the fire and the overall effect on an incredible number of books. The history of the library was much more colourful than I would have imagined as well.

I also liked the author's personal story. She's a well-known writer for The New Yorker magazine and a book-lover since childhood.

Link to my review of The Library Book


message 13: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 1248 comments Mod
It's been a crazy couple of week for me, I just got started on this book. I'm really enjoying it and hope to make some progress today since I'm off.


message 14: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 1248 comments Mod
Sorry, I didn't get back to this discussion, I started reading the book and my tablet died. I am sad but I know what's going on my Christmas list.


PattyMacDotComma | 166 comments Gem❄️☃️ wrote: "Sorry, I didn't get back to this discussion, I started reading the book and my tablet died. I am sad but I know what's going on my Christmas list."

I hope you've been very good this year and are properly rewarded, Gem!


message 16: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 1248 comments Mod
PattyMacDotComma wrote: "I hope you've been very good this year and are properly rewarded, Gem!"

I'm as rotten as I can possibly get away with grinz.


PattyMacDotComma | 166 comments Gem❄️☃️ wrote: "PattyMacDotComma wrote: "I hope you've been very good this year and are properly rewarded, Gem!"

I'm as rotten as I can possibly get away with grinz."


:)


message 18: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 1248 comments Mod
I'm going to try to finish this book, we got my tablet up and running (keeping fingers crossed it will stay that way).


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