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The Library Book

by Susan Orlean

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,9061953,427 (4.08)177
Susan Orlean re-opens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling love letter to the beloved institution of libraries.

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» See also 177 mentions

English (192)  German (1)  All languages (193)
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
A book lovers dream
  Tehreemfatima | Jan 23, 2021 |
It's amazing to have not heard of the huge fire that burned so many books and other media at the LA Central Library in 1986. But the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred the same day and dominated the news for weeks to come. A fire at a library could not compete as newsworthy enough for most news outlets.

Orlean does a fantastic job relating the fire and the devastating nature of the aftermath. I don't think most people realize how many patrons rely on a library in so many ways. The Central library had an astounding number of people who used it on a daily basis in 1986 and it still does today. The history of the library was fascinating and discovering that there were women head librarians in the mid 1800s was a nice surprise. I was just as enthralled learning about all the programs and areas that the library has now. A visit to such a great place would be wonderful. ( )
  boldforbs | Jan 15, 2021 |
I listened to this on audiobook and really enjoyed it. I thought Orlean did a good job of narrating her own work. It is the perfect kind of audiobook to me - a deep dive into an event that I wasn't even aware of. Orleans doesn't just stick to the narrow topic of the fire at the Los Angeles Library - but weaves in pieces of national library history as well as many interesting profiles of important people in library history. ( )
  alanna1122 | Jan 11, 2021 |
DNF ( )
  diane_v12 | Jan 8, 2021 |
Me ha gustado mucho, pero con un simple pero. No os fiéis de la sinopsis, de que todo va del señor que supuestamente incendió la biblioteca del título, sino que la autora enmarca su historia para explicarnos todo lo que ha rodeado a la Biblioteca Central de Los Ángeles, histórica y actualmente. Y su historia es muy interesante y entretenida. ( )
  essuniz | Jan 5, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
On 29 April 1986 Los Angeles Central Library went up in flames. ... Susan Orlean has a knack for finding compelling stories in unlikely places. ... Orlean uses the fire to ask a broader question about just what public libraries are for and what happens when they are lost. You might not perhaps have LA pegged as the most bookish city, yet right from its inception in 1873, the central library attracted a higher proportion of citizens through its doors than anywhere else in the US. By 1921 more than a thousand books were being checked out every hour. The reason for that, Orlean suggests, is that LA has always been a city of seekers – first came the gold prospectors and the fruit growers, then the actors and the agents, and then all the refugees from the dust bowl prairies. No one was as solid or as solvent as they liked to appear, everyone was looking for clues about how to do life better.

This was where the library came in, providing the instruction manual for a million clever hacks and wheezes. In the runup to prohibition in 1920 every book on how to make homemade hooch was checked out and never returned. Five years later a man called Harry Pidgeon became only the second person to sail solo around the world, having got the design for his boat from books borrowed from the LA public library. More mundanely, the library quickly became the chief centre for free English language classes in the city, a service that it continues to provide for its huge immigrant population today.

It is this sense of a library as a civic junction that most interests Orlean. ... Or, as she puts it: "Every problem that society has, the library has, too; nothing good is kept out of the library, and nothing bad."
added by Cynfelyn | editThe Guardian, Kathryn Hughs (Feb 16, 2019)
“The Library Book” is, in the end, a Whitmanesque yawp, bringing to life a place and an institution that represents the very best of America: capacious, chaotic, tolerant and even hopeful, with faith in mobility of every kind, even, or perhaps especially, in the face of adversity.
added by tim.taylor | editThe Wall Street Journal, Jane Kamensky (pay site) (Oct 11, 2018)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orlean, Susanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
André, EmeliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Loman, CarlyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peters-Collaer, LaurenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schneiter, SylvieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trejo, JuanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Memory believes before knowing remembers.
---William Faulkner, Light in August
And when they ask us what we're doing, you can say, We're remembering.
---Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library.
---Jorge Luis Borges, Dreamtigers
For Edith Orlean, my past
For Austin Gillespie, my future
First words
Even in Los Angeles, where there is no shortage of remarkable hairdos, Harry Peak attracted attention.
A book feels like a thing alive in this moment, and also alive on a continuum, from the moment the thoughts about it first percolated in the writer's mind to the moment it sprang off the printing press---a lifeline that continues as someone sits with it and marvels over it, and it continues on, time after time after time.
The idea of being forgotten is terrifying. I fear not just that I, personally will be forgotten, but that we are all doomed to being forgotten---that the sum of life is ultimately nothing; that we experience joy and disappointment and aches and delights and loss, make our little mark on the world, and then we vanish, and the mark is erased, and it is as if we never existed.
Taking books away from a culture is to take away its shared memory. It's like taking away the ability to remember your dreams. Destroying a culture's books is sentencing it to something worse than death. It is sentencing it to seem as if it never lived.
Pigeons the color of concrete marched in a bossy staccato around the suitcases.
There was a sense of stage business—that churn of activity you can't hear or see but you feel at a theater in the instant before the curtain rises—of people finding their places and things being set right, before the burst of action begins.
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Susan Orlean re-opens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling love letter to the beloved institution of libraries.

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Book description
The Los Angeles Public Library is at the center of Orlean's tale, and she describes its history with a focus on the horrific fire in 1986. An interesting font of information about libraries, people who influenced their history and the American readers from pre-teen to seniors who benefit in remarkable ways from just plain books.
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