The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Library Book

Susan Orlean, hailed as a “national treasure” by The Washington Post and the acclaimed bestselling author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief, reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution—our libraries.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...

Details The Library Book

TitleThe Library Book
Release DateOct 16th, 2018
PublisherSimon Schuster
GenreNonfiction, History, Writing, Books About Books, Crime, True Crime

Reviews The Library Book

  • PattyMacDotComma
    5★“All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library’s simple unspoken promise: Here is my story, please listen; here I am, please tell me your story.”For many people, I imagine libraries are like places of worship - everyone is made to feel welcome and part of a greater community.In the case of a library, it’s a community not only of readers, but also of people looking for someone to answer their questions, migrant...
  • Jenny
    Some of the fondest childhood memories I have were of my Mother taking me to the library. I held my Moms hand as we walked in and as so as I saw my section, I begged to let go of her hand as I nearly ran to grab new books that my parents and I would read together. My Mother’s arms were full of mysteries, best sellers, biographies, cookbooks and of course, my books. I loved seeing my Mom stack the books on the counter and then that sound. The so...
  • ||Swaroop||
    My favourite hangout place is the Library. I so very love going around through various bookshelves in the Libraries, specifically the Central Library. It feels so relaxed and calming when I am in the Library. It feels like, I am among many learned and wise souls, who are in all these books. These souls care for me even though we are, in some cases, hundreds of years apart… “A library is a good place to soften solitude; a place where you feel ...
  • Terzah
    I've had a bit of an inferiority complex about being a librarian almost since I made the decision at the age of 30 to become one. I am a career switcher, a failure at both journalism and (so far anyway) creative writing. While some of my reasons for moving to libraries were good ones--the main good one being that I wanted to serve ordinary people directly--I fret that I made the switch more out of laziness: librarianship, unlike journalism, comes...
  • Kasa Cotugno
    Susan Orlean first learned of the devastating fire in the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986 years after. Living in New York where the news of the Chernobyl disaster dominated the news, a library fire in Los Angeles didn't get much coverage. As with other library arsons, it was not an act against a person or people, but for reasons unknown, since libraries are burned because of problems with the ideas that might be contained therein. Library vis...
  • Candace
    I worked at the Los Angeles Public Library's Gardner Branch as a page in the late 1970s and it remains one of the trippiest jobs I've ever had. The library system seemed to take pleasure in staffing each branch with the least likely people for the location's demographic, which was pretty funny. The patrons--mostly Holocaust survivors, gays, seniors, and struggling middle classers, adored the African American clerk with the towering platforms, hug...
  • Nancy
    I remember when I first heard there was a place where one could borrow all the books one wanted to read.My elementary school, Philip Sheridan, was brand new and filled with recently published children's books. There was a small library in my second-grade classroom and after the teacher read a book out loud to the class I would borrow it and read the book myself. Then I started to pick up other books, like the biography of Robert Louis Stevenson w...
  • Holly
    The worst thing about experiencing a fire (assuming all living things are safe and outside) is the waiting, not knowing what survived, if anything. Then there are the worries about smoke and water damage. People don’t really think about water damage but that can be even worse than the smoke. Because of my own fire experience, my love of libraries and books and the fact that I live in Los Angeles, I was interested to read Susan Orlean’s The Li...
  • Wendi Lee
    I love libraries. I remember story times from my childhood library fondly, took my own daughter to our library for the first time when she was a few months old, and am often that patron with an armful of checked out books. Many of my friends from my MFA program went on to library school, and honestly, I should have done the same, because libraries are my happy place. The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s nonfiction book about: the fire that nearly...
  • Giulia
    I love books and I love libraries. The bookmobile that traveled to the school across the street from my hometown was my best friend for many years as a kid when I would visit it every Wednesday it was parked outside near my house. (I think I read and reread Elizabeth Taylors autobiography-"Elizabeth Takes Off" 15 times.) This book is a love letter to library's and it tries to unravel the mystery of who or what caused a devastating fire to the LA ...
  • Jessica Woodbury
    A delightful read, though it never takes on a real form. It dabbles in several stories but never quite dives all the way into them, and by breaking them all up into pieces you often lose the narrative thread when there is one. This book is best approached in small bites, focusing on its pleasures, taking enjoyment in the story of one particular library and what libraries mean for all. The details on the fire at the Los Angeles Public Library alon...
  • Crystal King
    Over the last week since I read this book I think I've told nearly everyone I know to read it. Orlean has an incredible gift when it comes to rendering stories on the page and this story of the 1986 Los Angeles Library fire is no exception. I have never read such a beautiful description of something so destructive. She covers every aspect of the fire--the history of the library, the fire itself, how the staff handled it, how the fire fighters fou...
  • Nicole
    I was enthralled at Orlean's excellent writing, vivid descriptions and meticulous research into the circumstances surrounding the tragic fire at the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986. it is both a love letter to all libraries and a deep exploration of a tragedy where the victims were hundreds of thousands of books and irreplaceable historical records. As a librarian, Orlean made me proud to have chosen this noble profession, which I have always...
  • Corinna Fabre
    This book is a COMPLETE joy. If you love books, if you love libraries, if you love intricately woven journalism, you will devour The Library Book. The Library Book's foundation is around the story of the 1986 Los Angeles Library fire, how it happened, how the case was investigated (and who was or wasn't charged) and how the library recovered. The really beautiful thing about this book is how deftly Susan Orlean weaves together everything beyond t...
  • Mary Robinson
    Brilliant. I found this to be captivating and incredibly well written. The descriptions of how a fire burns and the spread as it encompassed the LA Library made my heart race with anxiety. Told in alternating chapters about the fire, about the author, the history of the LA Central Library and also about the arson investigation and it's ultimate target, each story line was interesting and well paced. As a librarian, perhaps I am biased, but Susan ...
  • Maureen
    Of course I am biased when it comes to a book about the history and soul of a library. I’m okay with that. This book is a love letter to the libraries that are the center of my universe. Orlean’s writing is engaging and informative. Her reverence for the wonder of libraries shines throughout. This book is about the devastating fire at the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986, but it is also a history lesson about libraries in general and a beau...
  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
    I went into this book based solely on the author -- I like Susan Orlean's writing. If I had learned ahead of time that it is about the history of a library, I'm not sure I would have been very enthusiastic. I love to visit libraries, but reading about them strikes me as...boring. Well, have no fear -- The Library Book is just what you'd expect from Orlean, a writer of magazine journalism as well as books. It's lively and surprising and packed wit...
  • Geoffrey
    (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley) There is just so much that is packed into this wonderful read. Using the fire of 1986 at the Central Library as the foundation, Orlean covers among many other things: - The curious arson case that followed the ravaging fire- The history of the LA Public Library and the large cast of fascinating characters that were instrumental in its founding and development - The ...
  • Margaret Sankey
    Using the devastating 1986 fire as the center, Orlean spins out the weird and wonderful existence of the LA library--its founding and series of later 19th century women librarians, adaptation to new technology and library uses, the oddball who probably set the fire but who could never be prosecuted successfully for it, the role of libraries as social service providers, the history of downtown LA, librarianship as a refuge for LGBTQ people from th...
  • Madeline Partner
    3.5.. mixed opinions on this, but I’ll post something later! It dragged on a bit too much at the end, and as I read, I got more exasperated.-Okay! Time to explain myself.In The Library Book Orlean aims to offer a well-rounded discussion of libraries, rooted by the story of the Los Angeles Library fire in 1986. When I read the summary of this book, there was a lot of emphasis placed on the library fire, which really drew me in. I was curious to ...
  • Kelsey
    88% | B+You should read this book if you're into:Libraries in general, the history of Los Angeles libraries/librarians, books (none of you like books, right?), accessible nonfiction, the importance of preserving our books/knowledge for future generations"All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library's simple unspoken promise: Here is my story, please listen; here I am, please tell me your story."
  • Lisa
    Oh, this was just lovely. The book is a history of the L.A. Public Library, particularly the 1986 fire that devastated it—and it makes you wish that every library system was fortunate enough to have a biographer, because Orlean pulls out the most marvelous, evocative details about it from its founding to the present day—but it's also a love letter to libraries in general, which is just a wonderful thing. Of course I love it, given how I feel ...
  • Ron S
    The title is The Library Book. The author is Susan Orlean. I really can't imagine anyone needing more information than that in this particular instance (and on this website). Read it.
  • Neanderthal
    Susan Orlean, staff writer for THE NEW YORKER and author of seven books, centers THE LIBRARY BOOK on the catastrophic fire at the Los Angeles Central Library on April 29, 1986 that destroyed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000, burned for seven hours and reached a temperature of 2000 degrees. More than one-quarter of the way through the book, she notes that, before learning about the fire, she had decided that she was done with writing books becaus...
  • Victoria
    Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for giving me the chance to read this upcoming non-fiction by Susan Orlean. I’m in love with this book! It’s like a love letter to libraries, specifically to the Los Angeles Library, but really to all and all the wonderful people who work in them. It’s a mix of history, current events, some gender observations, all with a bit of mystery thrown in. I have not read anything by Susan Orlean previou...
  • Marlene
    Originally published at Reading RealityThis is Banned Books Week. As part of my own personal Banned Books Week celebration I read and review at least one book about libraries, or books, or a book that has been banned. Or Fahrenheit 451 which kind of hits the trifecta.The Library Book is not about book banning. Instead, it’s about book burning. Not the kind of book burning that occurs in Fahrenheit 451, but something less political but unfortuna...
  • Misha
    "The librarians at Central considered themselves more than colleagues. As much as the idea of a work family can seem a little hackneyed, the library really does feel like one, with all that implies in terms of familiarity and fondness and gossip and conflict and longevity. The staff is generally united on the opinion that administration (usually) and the Board of Library Commissioners (almost always) fail to understand what it is like to be worki...
  • Bri (
    I ate up this nonfiction number that weaves together the history of the LA library, the histories of libraries throughout all of time, the events involving the LA library fire in the 1980s, and tidbits about the many services that the library currently provides. Anyone who knows me knows that I am OBSESSED with libraries and the many services that they provide to the communities that they serve. Have you ever thought about how libraries are one ...
  • Mark
    When I visit the library, I often have an ostensible purpose, but there are usually many interesting accidental encounters that throw me off my path. Part of the charm of The Library Book by Susan Orlean is the way she mimics that experience - never afraid to pursue a digression just because it is interesting. Orlean's ostensible purpose is to relate in parallel the story of the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire and aftermath, and the history ...