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Group Reads - Non Fiction > February & March 2020 Non Fiction Group Read - The Library Book by Susan Orlean

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message 1: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11966 comments Mod
Please discuss our winner here.


message 2: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments I have put in my hold at the library.


message 3: by Maggi (new)

Maggi Harris | 44 comments Me too! I'm lucky number 12, but there are 12 copies.


message 4: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13415 comments Mod
Got it - and it has been not at all easy!!! Hope to start it as soon as the month begins


message 5: by Photographing (new)

Photographing London | 3 comments Will delve into this months selection very soon.


message 6: by Karin (last edited Jan 23, 2020 12:44PM) (new)

Karin | 1953 comments I don't remember voting for this, but am quite sure I did (so happy something I voted for won :) ) but it looks interesting and I've put it on hold--plus it fits with a reading game I'm doing so perfect for that plus popsugar. I put it on hold at the library--both a print copy and the audiobook.


message 7: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments LOL - my hold has already come in! But I will wait a while before starting so that I don't actually finish before the 'official' start date.


message 8: by Antonio (new)

Antonio Gallo (galloway) | 1937 comments I'm very pleased to read this book with you!


message 9: by Antonio (new)

Antonio Gallo (galloway) | 1937 comments “In Senegal, the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned. When I first heard the phrase, I didn’t understand it, but over time I came to realize it was perfect. Our minds and souls contain volumes inscribed by our experiences and emotions; each individual’s consciousness is a collection of memories we’ve cataloged and stored inside us, a private library of a life lived.” (Susan Orlean, The Library Book)

It all starts from this thought ...


message 10: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 315 comments Antonio wrote: "“In Senegal, the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned. When I first heard the phrase, I didn’t understand it, but over time I came to realize it was per..."

I haven't started the book yet, but this quote is amazing. What a way to begin!


message 11: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Well, I couldn't help myself - I started yesterday and liked it so much that I finished today. I won't give any spoilers but just quote the book blurb "... 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."

So glad that this book was chosen!


message 12: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 315 comments I am really enjoying Orlean's writing. I loved her descriptions of visiting the library as a child with her mother... how she decided the order she would read the books during the drive home... these were my memories too, played out in exactly the same way.


message 13: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Janice (JG) wrote: "I am really enjoying Orlean's writing. I loved her descriptions of visiting the library as a child with her mother... how she decided the order she would read the books during the drive home... the..."

I share some of those memories too Janice. I think that was a good way to start the book.


message 14: by Erica (new)

Erica | 867 comments I read this mid-2019 and really enjoyed it. Have fun reading it :)


message 15: by Nidhi (new)

Nidhi Kumari | 162 comments I will be reading this book with you all. I like books about books like Antonia Fraser’s Pleasure of Reading , Why Read Classics by Italo Calvino.


message 16: by Tamara (last edited Feb 02, 2020 03:03PM) (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 963 comments I'm only a few chapters in and am thoroughly enjoying it. I love her personification of the fire as it progressed throughout the building--full of active, vigorous verbs. It "wound around Fiction A through L." It "roasted" cookbooks. It "scrambled" through the sixth tier, etc. etc.

Really great writing.


message 17: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13415 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "Well, I couldn't help myself - I started yesterday and liked it so much that I finished today. I won't give any spoilers but just quote the book blurb "... Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquel..."

I'm afraid I'll have to postpone the starting of it of a couple of weeks...


message 18: by Pam (new)

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 675 comments I’m on a ~10 week hold for the ebook. Hope it comes in sooner!


message 19: by Antonio (new)

Antonio Gallo (galloway) | 1937 comments Go to Today in History and you'll read a piece of the book ...


message 20: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 963 comments I finished it yesterday. I have some reservations about it, but I don't want to say anything until more of you have read it. I'll probably be doing a review of it in the next couple of days.


message 21: by Leslie (last edited Feb 09, 2020 10:22AM) (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Tamara wrote: "I finished it yesterday. I have some reservations about it, but I don't want to say anything until more of you have read it. I'll probably be doing a review of it in the next couple of days."

You can always use spoiler tags for your comments. Just type < followed by 'spoiler>' then your comment. At the end, type < followed by '/spoiler>'.


message 22: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 315 comments I I love the fascinating history the author has managed to incorporate into this story... it is premised on the Los Angeles library fire, but from there she reaches out in all directions to pull historical moments into the spotlight. For instance, (view spoiler)


message 23: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Janice - regarding your spoiler: I was shocked about that too!


message 24: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 963 comments I enjoyed it when she focused on the library, but I thought it lost focus when she wandered off topic about half way through. For example, (view spoiler)

My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 25: by Karin (new)

Karin | 1953 comments I am on the final CD and will be finishing it this week, although I am not sure which day. I have mixed feelings about it, but will wait until a. I have finished it and b. we are discussing it more fully.


message 26: by Photographing (new)

Photographing London | 3 comments Lost focus when the author drifted away from the library fire.


message 27: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Photographing wrote: "Lost focus when the author drifted away from the library fire."

Others have mentioned that too but for me, that was all interesting.


message 28: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 963 comments Photographing wrote: "Lost focus when the author drifted away from the library fire."

I agree completely.


message 29: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 315 comments Leslie wrote: "Photographing wrote: "Lost focus when the author drifted away from the library fire."

Others have mentioned that too but for me, that was all interesting."


I am continuing to enjoy it, reading it in short spurts because it is so full of interesting information... but, I'm a history buff, so that might explain it.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

I know someone who would be very interested in this book. I will recommend it to her.


message 31: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13415 comments Mod
Tamara wrote: "Photographing wrote: "Lost focus when the author drifted away from the library fire."

I agree completely."


Quite agree


message 32: by PattyMacDotComma (last edited Feb 27, 2020 02:47PM) (new)

PattyMacDotComma | 1161 comments I loved the whole thing. I think some of the advertising now may be promoting this as a cold case crime and just the story of the Los Angeles library fire. The blurb on Goodreads (from the publisher?) explains pretty well what the author intended and wrote.

She made the main fire the centrepiece of a much bigger general story about books, libraries, librarians and how they grow as the communities grow and the kinds of communities they became and how they've changed over the years.

I enjoyed reading the history, including her own, since she's been an acclaimed staff writer for The New Yorker for many years, so it's nice to know where she came from, so to speak.

I thought Charles Lummis, the wild librarian, was a hoot, and he sure got more publicity than any other librarian I'm aware of. It's all good for attracting funding!

I did write a review (no spoilers):
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 33: by Karin (new)

Karin | 1953 comments I didn't love this book, but liked it quite a bit. I listened to it on audiobook, as I mentioned, which I think made the book better for me; it might have become a bit dry at times otherwise.

To me the book was more about libraries and the history of the LA library than the fire or the crime, although those certainly were important elements in the book.


message 34: by Maggi (new)

Maggi Harris | 44 comments I'm coming in late as I just began reading this today and already enjoy Orleans' writing style. I'm a little nervous, having only a few days before it's due back to the library with a hectic schedule this week, but I'll "power through" (and enjoy every minute of it, I'm sure).

My notes so far: I noticed how descriptive Orleans depicts the fire itself. The fire "scrambled... banged... decided to move laterally..." It has a mind of its own and she gives it life. I can't decide if I enjoy it or find it a sophomoric. Also, when one of the librarians told her that "she hadn't had a period for four months following the fire because she was so traumatized," I, for a second, thought this was too personal, too much information, but in hindsight am glad Orleans kept this in the book because it shows just how impactful this event was to people so closely tied to the library itself. Lastly, it was beautiful to see LA come together as a city with 2000+ volunteers the next day, but in my minds eye, I can't help but wonder how the citywide brotherhood wasn't existent six years later when the King Riots took place.

So far, I'm really enjoying the prose and can't wait to delve deeper into the arson and the effect of libraries on people in general. I'm sure it will be a pleasure to skate off housekeeping an hour or two this week as I finish this read.

P.S. Happy International Women's Day, ladies. May we reign and read evermore.


message 35: by Maggi (new)

Maggi Harris | 44 comments Finished just in time to return The Library Book to its proper place in the library! I truly enjoyed this book. From the insights into how libraries are adapting to online media, to their work with the homeless - it was brilliant. My notes:

- I feel a bit let down about the ending, but Peaks was such a hard person for me understand. How he was seen in his family (his sister thinking people saw him as a gay m***********) was shocking and sad, but I feel like while the LAPL fire was supposed to the star of the show/book, it was really more a look at the library itself and That's what deserves the standing ovation.

- The drama between Lummis and Jones (after reading Invisible Women this year and also being a woman, I found this not surprising but infuriating) was dramatic. l do have to agree with Lummis, however, when he says that "Books are the last things that any human being can afford to do without."

- "Writing a book, just like building a library, is an act of sheer defiance. It is a declaration that you believe in the persistence of memory." If I ever sit down to write a book, this will be hanging over my desk.

- The extensive book burning history was fascinating to read about. Orleans' research was clearly an effort of dedication and is one of the reasons I feel this book was so fantastic. It's not just about a library fire, it's about how libraries affect civilization.

- When it came to the fundraising, campaigns, and donations, again, I was touched at how the community of LA really came together, but even as an avid bibliophile, I could understand the feelings of the author of the letter on page 118 who was angry that books take place over living, breathing creatures. This is something I was torn about and still cannot commit to.

- Closer to the end of the book, when Beiber discusses arson what we know now and the people that have been imprisoned and even sentenced to death when they were innocent was eye-opening. It was a revelation to realize how little we know about this subject despite what others say.

- Side note, can you believe that libraries actually outnumber McDonald's in the US? This was one of the more shocking insights I read.

- Lastly, OverDrive's growth is astounding, and I'm thrilled that book borrowing is as popular as ever, but I have to agree with Orleans when she finished the chapter with "OverDrive may be the future of book lending, but that's not the same thing as a future of libraries. Libraries are physical spaces belonging to a community where we gather to share information. There isn't anywhere else that fits that description. Perhaps in the future, OverDrive will be where our books come from, and libraries will become something more like our town squares, a place that is home when you aren't at home."

Overall, this book was 4.5 stars for me, but I'm rounding up to 5 because, simply, it deserves it.


message 36: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Great comments Maggi! Thanks so much for sharing them.

In particular, you said: "The extensive book burning history was fascinating to read about. Orleans' research was clearly an effort of dedication and is one of the reasons I feel this book was so fantastic. It's not just about a library fire, it's about how libraries affect civilization."

That was my reaction as well. So very interesting to learn how libraries developed & how their operation led to so many other facets of community life.

As a bookworm, I have always had books but I never really thought too much about the day-to-day working of the library. That aspect of the book also showed Orlean's research and I liked the way she included some personal tidbits about the people she met while learning the different jobs such as the image digitalization section or the interlibrary loan packing area.


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