Saturday, November 17, 2018
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Although Orlean begins with the fire, the subsequent investigation, and the suspicion that a man named Harry Peak started the fire, there's so much more in the book. She covers the history of the Los Angeles Central Library, the eccentric and practical librarians who managed the building, the building itself, and some of the current staff and customers. She also mentions the campaign to raise funds to replace the lost books, valued at fourteen million dollars.
Orlean has done her research. She not only deals with the history of the Los Angeles Public Library, she's written a history of libraries, and discusses the future of libraries. She treats all of the staff, the customers, and the characters that circle throughout the building's history, with a great deal of respect.
As with so many other people who love public libraries, Orlean's love was instilled by her mother. Several times, she mentions her trips to the library with her mother. She says her mother always said if she could have chosen any profession in the world, she would have been a librarian.
The Library Book may have started out as an exploration of a mystery. What happened and who set the fire that burned the Los Angeles Central Library? But, Orlean's book became deeper and more compassionate than just one fire and one library. It became a search for the purpose and value of libraries. Why do people use and cherish libraries? In examining that second question, Susan Orlean has told the story of a love and respect for knowledge and information, a story shared worldwide.
Susan Orlean's website is www.susanorlean.com
The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Simon & Schuster, 2018. ISBN 9781476740188 (hardcover), 336p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.