I don’t know why I waited so long to read this book. It has been on my radar since it was released and I had heard good things but it took being quarantined for me to read a book about my profession (maybe this is a sign that I’m missing work.) While marketed as a true crime book, this is also a love letter to libraries and the librarians that dedicate their lives to ensuring these institutions stay vital parts of the community they serve. I would recommend this for anyone who has ever wondered what librarians do all day.
From Goodreads: In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.
Things I Liked:
Orleans clearly loves libraries and holds librarians in high regard so it was a pleasure to read about my job from someone who not only appreciates what we do but highlights how the job is much more than reading books. My favorite parts of this book were when she was talking to current librarians or introducing the librarians who were working at the time of the fire and how they felt. I appreciate how she treated the family of the alleged perpetrator and didn’t delve into sensationalism about the fire. She laid out the facts as she knew them and didn’t let personal bias get in the way.
Things I Didn’t Like:
I found the true crime element of the book less interesting than I thought I would which kept this from being a five star book. Maybe it’s because the crime is still unsolved but I was hoping for more information on the investigation. I think readers looking for an in-depth true crime book will be disappointed.
Even as a librarian, I learned things I didn’t know so I think this is a great book for people looking to learn more about modern libraries and what librarians do all day. I definitely recommend this book.
Favorite Quote: “Librarians should “read as a drunkard drinks or as a bird sings or a cat sleeps or a dog responds to an invitation to go walking, not from conscience or training, but because they’d rather do it than anything else in the world.”
Author: Susan Orlean
Published: October 16th, 2018
Rating: 4 Stars