Where were you, dear Reader, that April day in 1986 when the Chernobyl meltdown informed us of the suddenly horrific powers we depend upon for our every civil convenience? Do you know that the biggest library fire in American history occurred that same day at the Central Library of Los Angeles? Rate these disasters as you will, you Book-Lovers, but do read Orleans' wholly accessible, ever-enlightening paean which, in her hunt to determine who or what caused the fire, clearly proves why billions of educated people, and a lot of the rest of us, hold the commonality of the library experience in reverent memory.
A Bonus: this book is built! The full signatures held together with the finest modern glue in a unique sturdy laminated cloth and board binding makes this a book to read then pass on from one dear reader to another, with no due date. Already Emily Poole, Jackie Melvin and I have read the store copy, and it still looks new.
When she finished her last book, Susan Orlean declared that she would not write another—and oh boy, am I glad she broke that promise. I’m ashamed to admit that The Library Book is my first read by Orlean, but her riveting, accessible, and vivid writing makes me want to get my hands on her entire oeuvre. The Library Book alternates steadily between a wrenching, almost murder mystery-esque account of the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire and a contemporary examination of the library’s role in our modern techno-culture. Every fact that borders on dry comes with a juicy side dish of story and narrative that will keep you hooked. If you’re not a fan of nonfiction, this book will convert you. If you are, this book is required reading.