2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.

Book Review: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

What a cool and interesting story this was!

I really enjoy Susan Orlean’s writing – she has an engaging style that makes non-fiction read like fiction (The Orchid Thief was my first example of this phenomenon, and I’ve been hunting down non-fiction to find more ever since!) and that pulls the reader into the information being presented. In this book, she takes on the mysterious fire of the L.A. Public Library – and the history of the library since its inception. And along the way she teaches you about other libraries, trends in library management, arson investigations, criminal and civil litigation, architecture, book restoration, and family dynamics (both biological and the families we choose). It’s a LOT to cover, but she manages to weave it all together into a narrative that is not only coherent, it’s entertaining no matter which component is the focus. No small feat, that…

The book opens with the library fire, and closes with it too – but not in the way I expected. Along the way we learn about the investigation into the fire, the main suspect, and the library’s life from inception to death and then rebirth. It’s a fascinating tale populated by a cast of characters that could only be real – so many of them are chockablock full of quirks and foibles that no author would dare create them all and insert them into the same story! The writing is, as always with Orlean, excellent. This was a great tale from start to finish – and especially throughout all the meandering side-trails along the way!

My review copy was provided by NetGalley.

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