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Jennifer's books

Goodbye, Vitamin
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
Mrs. Hemingway
Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
The Princess Diarist
Watch Me Disappear
Hello, Sunshine
Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
A Man Called Ove
The Heirs
Our Souls at Night
White Fur
Confessions of a Domestic Failure
The Map That Leads to You
The Little French Bistro
Love the Wine You're With
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
The Party
New Boy


Jennifer Curry's favorite books »

Monday, October 22, 2018

Book Review: The Library Book

The Library Book by Susan Orlean




I love narrative nonfiction, and Susan Orlean's The Library Book is nonfiction at its best!

I realize that I am super biased because this book is about books and libraries - two of my ultimate favorite things. I am smart enough to realize that while I will be raving about this book, there will be some that just don't get it. But, if you are someone who loves libraries, then you absolutely need to read this book.

The Library Book is Orlean's retelling of the tragic Los Angeles Public Library burning in 1986. Reading as part true crime and part historical nonfiction, she unfolds the story of the possible arson that destroyed a library and countless books and artifacts by providing readers with the full history of the public library system in California, the librarians who worked there through the years, as well as providing an expose of the arsonist.

Some people may hear this and immediately dismiss it as boring nonfiction - and these people would be wrong. It was entertaining from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every single page, and I found myself constantly highlighted passages.

The combination of the crime, plus the gossipy details about who was fired and hired at the library through the ages made for a very interesting read - especially for fans of libraries. There were lines that made me gasp. Lines that made me cheer. And lines that made me feel known as a library lover. I highlighted tons of lines in the book, but here are a few of my favorites:

"In times of trouble, libraries are sanctuaries. They become town squares and community centers - even blood-draw locations."

"Burning books is an inefficient way to conduct a war, since books and libraries have no military value, but it is a devastating act. Destroying a library is a kind of terrorism. People think of libraries as the safest and most open places in society. Setting them on fire is like announcing that nothing, and nowhere, is safe. The deepest effect of burning books is emotional. When libraries burn, the books are sometimes described as being 'wounded' or as 'casualties,' just as human beings would be."

The book is far more than an arson investigation - Orlean discusses how libraries have evolved over time. She describes how famous writers have found their words in libraries - such a Ray Bradbury who wrote his most famous novel on a library typewriter. The book is filled with stories that will make any book lover's heart happy.

This is the first book I have read by the famed author, Susan Orlean, but it certainly will not be my last. If you have someone in your life who adores libraries and books, then this is the gift they need this Christmas.

Thank you, Netgalley, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review! This book was recently published, so hurry out and get it today!

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