The Library Book by Susan Orlean is a non-fiction novel situated around the largest library disaster in American history. On April 29, 1986 the Los Angeles Public Library erupted into flames damaging or destroying over a million books. This event set into motion an expansive police investigation into who and how the fire was started.
Fans of true crime will be fascinated with Orlean’s journalistic approach detailing the LAPD’s investigation into Harry Peak, the erratic suspect at the center of the crime. History buffs will enjoy the space Orlean carves out around the doom and gloom of the fire’s aftermath to explore the rich history and culture narratives surrounding libraries. Memoirs of eccentric staff and patrons who have passed through the library’s doors are joyfully woven into the plot alongside a variety of important historical events. You will learn how libraries have evolved throughout history from the first woman head librarian to the diverse and crucial set of programs they offer today. The novel is jam packed with information and alternates quickly between the investigation and often hilarious vignettes making it a quick paced and informative read.
After finishing the Library Book you can’t help but feel in awe of libraries. This book is for anyone who loves their local library and would like a reminder of just how marvelous and important these beloved institutions are!