A Review of The Library Book

Posted: April 16, 2019 9:00:00 AM CDT

I admit it. When I think about sitting down with a good book to read purely for enjoyment, I think of fiction…specifically science fiction or fantasy. So when I checked out The Library Book by Susan Orlean from the Library’s Popular Reading Collection, I was thrilled to discover how enjoyable and engrossing it was.

On the surface this book tells the story of the 1986 fire of the Los Angeles Public Library main branch, one of the worst building fires in the history of L.A., which burned for more than seven hours and damaged more than a million books.

But, as it turns out, this book delightfully delivers so much more. It is part whodunnit as Orlean describes the search for a suspected arson. It is full of quirky characters from head-strong women librarians in the library’s early years to Charles Fletcher Lummis who, after being offered the job as head librarian, walked all the way from Cincinnati to L.A. as a publicity stunt. Orlean also delves into the character of Harry Peak, the suspected arsonist, would-be actor, and compulsive liar who at first claimed he started the fire and then denied it.

Orlean transports the reader smoothly from dealing with the fire and its aftermath, including how they managed to save thousands of smoke-damaged, water-logged books, to the transformed library of today after it rose like a phoenix from the ashes to become greater and more beloved than ever. Interesting facts can be found on virtually every page including an exploration of the physics of how a book burns and details on the architectural design of the library building that originally opened in 1926.

Orlean has created an immensely readable book. A book that pays homage to the larger story of libraries themselves including what they mean to our culture, civilization, and future.

"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."

You can find The Library Book in Bell Library’s Popular Reading Collection, along with many other new and interesting titles

April Popular Reading Collection:

Queen Bey cover imageQueen Bey: A Celebration of the Power of Beyonce Knowles
by Veronica Chambers
A celebration of one of the greatest stars of our time Beyoncé. Her name conjures more than music, it has come to be synonymous with beauty, glamour, power, creativity, love, and romance. Her performances are legendary, her album releases events. She is not even forty but she has already rewritten the Beyoncé playbook more than half a dozen times.


Wicked Saints cover artWicked Saints
by Emily A. Duncan
A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself. A prince in danger must decide who to trust. A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war. In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.


Baised cover artBiased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See
Jennifer L. Eberhardt
From one of the world's leading experts on unconscious racial bias, a personal examination of one of the central controversies and culturally powerful issues of our time, and its influence on contemporary race relations and criminal justice.


Run Away cover artRun Away
by Harlan Coben
You've lost your daughter. She's addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she's made it clear that she doesn't want to be found. Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she's not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble. You don't stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home. She runs. And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed.


Girl, Stop Apologizing cover artGirl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals
by Rachel Hollis
In Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.


The River cover artThe River
by Peter Heller
From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars, the story of two college students on a wilderness canoe trip--a gripping tale of a friendship tested by fire, white water, and violence.


Field Notes on Love cover artField Notes on Love
by Jennifer E. Smith
The bestselling author of Windfall and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight returns with a meet-cute romance about Hugo and Mae, two teens who are thrown together on a cross-country train trip that will teach them about love, each other, and the futures they can build for themselves.


Love Your Enemies cover artLove Your Enemies: How Decent People can Save America from the Culture of Contempt
by Arthur C. Brooks
The New York Times bestselling author says America is being ripped apart by bitterness and contempt, fomented by public bullies and self-interested leaders—but following the plan in this book, we can fight back to reunite the nation around principles of respect, kindness, and dignity.


The Stranger Diaries cover artThe Stranger Diaries
by Elly Griffiths
Death lies between the lines when the events of a dark story start coming true in this haunting modern gothic mystery, perfect for fans of Magpie Murders and The Lake House.


Opposite of Always cover artOpposite of Always
by Justin A. Reynolds
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. But then Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel.


The Old Drift cover artThe Old Drift
by C. Namwali Serpell
From a Caine Prize winner comes a sweeping, ambitious tale of three families who are plagued by a curse over the course of generations - following them from India, Italy, and England until their tangled fates converge in Zambia.


Eat to Beat Disease cover artEat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How the Body Can Heal Itself
by William W. Li
Forget everything you think you know about your body and food, and discover the new science of how the body heals itself. Learn how to identify the strategies and the dosages for using food to transform your resilience and health in EAT TO BEAT DISEASE.


The Trial of Lizzie Borden cover artThe Trial of Lizzie Borden
by Cara Robertson
The remarkable new account of an essential piece of American mythology—the trial of Lizzie Borden—based on twenty years of research and recently unearthed evidence.


Gingerbread cover artGingerbread
by Helen Oyeyemi
Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories—equal parts wholesome and uncanny, from the tantalizing witch's house in "Hansel and Gretel" to the man-shaped confection who one day decides to run as fast as he can—beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.


Daisy Jones & the Six cover artDaisy Jones & The Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous breakup.


Superman: Dawnbreaker cover artSuperman: Dawnbreaker
by Matt de la Pena
When the dawn breaks, a hero rises. His power is beyond imagining. Clark Kent has always been faster, stronger--better--than everyone around him. But he wasn't raised to show off, and drawing attention to himself could be dangerous. Plus, it's not like he's earned his powers . . . yet. But power comes with a price.


Cemetery Road cover artCemetery Road
by Greg Iles
Big-time journalist Marshall McEwan never thought he would return to his small Mississippi hometown, but his father is dying, and his mother can barely keep the local paper going. Alas, the town's economic rebirth seems to be based on corruption, and then an archaeologist is murdered at a construction site.


Shoot for the Moon cover artShoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo
by James Donovan
Seen through the eyes of the those who lived it, Shoot for the Moon reveals the dangers, the challenges, and the sheer determination that defined not only Apollo 11, but also the Mercury and Gemini missions that made it possible. Both sweeping and intimate, and based on exhaustive research and dozens of fresh interviews, bestselling author James Donovan's Shoot for the Moon is the definitive and thrilling account of one of humankind's most extraordinary feats of exploration.


Internment cover artInternment
by Samira Ahmed
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp's Director and his guards. Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.


White Elephant cover artWhite Elephant
by Julie Langsdorf
White Elephant is an uproarious, tangled-web tale of neighbor hating neighbor (and neighbor falling head over heels for neighbor). Soon, peaceful Willard Park becomes a tinderbox with nowhere to go but up in flames.


Radicalized cover artRadicalized
by Cory Doctorow
A collection of novellas. Unauthorized Bread is a tale of immigration, the toxicity of economic and technological stratification, and the young and downtrodden fighting against all odds to survive and prosper. In Model Minority, a Superman-like figure attempts to rectifiy the corruption of the police forces he long erroneously thought protected the defenseless...only to find his efforts adversely affecting their victims. Radicalized is a story of a darkweb-enforced violent uprising against insurance companies told from the perspective of a man desperate to secure funding for an experimental drug that could cure his wife's terminal cancer. The fourth story, Masque of the Red Death, harkens back to Doctorow's Walkaway, taking on issues of survivalism versus community.

 Anjanette Jones, User Experience and Web Design Librarian


By: Anjanette Jones

Category: Books & More, Today’s Special