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The Library Book
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
Susan Orlean, hailed as a national treasure by The Washington Post and the acclaimed bestselling author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief, reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling love letter to a beloved institutionour libraries. On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual false alarm. As one fireman recounted later, Once that first stack got going, it was Goodbye, Charlie. The fire was disastrous: It reached 2,000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 more. Investigators descended on the scene, but over thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the libraryand if so, who? Weaving her life-long love of books and reading with the fascinating history of libraries and the sometimes-eccentric characters who run them, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean presents a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling story as only she can. With her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, she investigates the legendary Los Angeles Public Library fire to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives. To truly understand what happens behind the stacks, Orlean visits the different departments of the LAPL, encountering an engaging cast of employees and patrons and experiencing alongside them the victories and struggles they face in todays climate. She also delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from a metropolitan charitable initiative to a cornerstone of national identity. She reflects on her childhood experiences in libraries; studies arson and the long history of library fires; attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; and she re-examines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the library over thirty years ago. Along the way, she reveals how these buildings provide much more than just booksand that they are needed now more than ever. Filled with heart, passion, and unforgettable characters, The Library Book is classic Susan Orlean, and an homage to a beloved institution that remains a vital part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country and culture.
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Kshakal
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Ruthiella 😂😂😂 1mo
julesG 🤣🤣🤣🤣 1mo
29 likes3 comments
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Kimberlone
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Finally put together my May #BookspinBingo card. Looks like I have two nonfiction in the queue for this month‘s #Bookspin and #Doublespin!

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! Looks fabulous!! 2mo
39 likes1 stack add1 comment
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SilversReviews
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Thanks to these Litsy folks for today‘s prompt:

#ITTAKESALLKINDS
@Eggs
@AlwaysBeenALoverOfBooks
@LitsyEvents
#LitsyEvents

TODAY‘S PROMPT: BOOK MENTIONED IN BOOK

In 1986 the Los Angeles Library caught fire.

Practically all were ruined or damaged.

I read this book, but didn‘t review it…it was excellent.

emz711 I listened to the audio, thought it was great. I had no idea there were people that had this job! 3mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Perfect 🙌🏻 3mo
Eggs Loved this book 📚 3mo
See All 6 Comments
SilversReviews @emz711 😊 It was so good. 3mo
SilversReviews @Eggs Yes…so good!! 3mo
37 likes6 comments
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Born.A.Reader
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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📚 Maybe You Should Talk to Someone- Lori Gottlieb
📚 📚 George VI & Elizabeth: The Marrriage That Saved the Monarchy - Sally Bedell Smith
📚 📚 📚 The Library Book -Susan Orlean
#TLT @dabbe #ThreeListThursday

dabbe You've given me 3 to look into! Thanks for sharing. 💚💙💚 4mo
16 likes1 comment
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monalyisha
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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If I have to be at work on a Saturday, at least I feel appreciated. 💖

UwannaPublishme Aww…how sweet! ❤️ 5mo
dabbe It's lovely how a note like this can make a person walk on air. 🤩🤩🤩 5mo
IndoorDame Notes from students are the best things ever 🤩🤩🤩 5mo
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RebelReader That makes it all worth it! ❤️❤️❤️ 5mo
AnnR Notes of appreciation at work are so wonderful! 🙂👍 5mo
youneverarrived So sweet 💕 5mo
76 likes7 comments
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Judybskt
Library Book | Susan Orlean
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😂😂😂

AmyG Hahahaha. I will not lend books to certain people. I called someone out on it years ago and she never spoke to me again. 🤣 6mo
19 likes2 comments
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CatMS
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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This has been on my kindle forever and it came up in last bookclub so decided to finally read it, amazing book full of info on not only Los Angeles Central library and the fire but libraries in general. Highly recommend.

16 likes3 stack adds
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telkb
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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“I have never been able to do harm to a book. Even books I don't want, or books that are so worn out and busted that they can't be read any longer, cling to me like thistles.“

Bookwomble Welcome to Litsy 👋😊 10mo
7 likes1 comment
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Erinreadsthebooks
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Anyone else follow random library accounts on Instagram? This one is super cute! They read one star reviews of books then reveal which book it is. Too cute! 🤩

ChaoticMissAdventures Oh! One Star Review, Guess Who!! It is so cute, I love guessing. 11mo
Sharpeipup I follow random library accounts too. 11mo
Michael_Gee Oo thank you for mentioning this, I‘m following them now. That library looks like a fun place to work and visit! 11mo
22 likes3 comments
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Sharpeipup
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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REPollock
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

An investigation into the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire, and a love letter to libraries by a talented writer and lifelong reader. Highly recommend.

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Lynnsoprano
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

I am so thankful that @LocalTXLibrarian chose this book for me. What a wonderful read! Although the story of the LA County library fire of 1986 was the inspiration, this is really an extended love letter to the concept of a library. Lots of history, a look at the future role of libraries. A really worthwhile and well written book. So glad I read this!

Cortg Nice review 😊 12mo
CaitlinR Great book and I agree, nice review. 12mo
tpixie Great review. 🌺 glad I was reminded of this book I want to read! 12mo
LocalTXLibrarian yay! i‘m so glad that you enjoyed it! 12mo
Lynnsoprano @LocalTXLibrarian ❤️❤️ 12mo
55 likes5 comments
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CogsOfEncouragement
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

Just like the author, I had not heard of the 1986 blaze of LA Central Library. Orlean does an entertaining job of covering so much about LA Central from its start as well as the fire and recovery and the man accused of setting the fire. Book darts are great to mark passages for book club discussion, and then easily removed after. I‘ve only been using them a couple years, wish I had them before.

26 likes1 stack add
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Lynnsoprano
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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We got home from our trip, and I was so excited finally open my #litsylovespringgardenpartyswap package. @LocalTXLibrarian I cannot thank you enough for this amazing gift! I‘m anxious to read both of these books-at least one is going to be my airplane read in a couple weeks- and the throw is going on my reading chair RIGHT NOW 😄 I love it all, and if I didn‘t know already that you‘re a librarian, your choices would have told me ❤️😘 #litsylove

Deblovestoread Awesome box of goodies! 13mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Great package 🎉🎊📚 13mo
Bookgoil Lovely goodies!!! 13mo
LocalTXLibrarian I'm so glad that you liked your gifts! When I realized that I was going to give you books about/set in libraries, I figured that library-themed gifts would go well with them 😂 Luckily, libraries are something that I know quite a bit about 😅 Enjoy! 13mo
54 likes4 comments
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SayersLover
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Finally read this one which has been on my TBR list for several years. I inherited a book discussion group with my new job so that helps with the motivation. 😅 Even though I read it pretty fast I thought it was very good and quite accurate with regards to libraries.

25 likes1 stack add
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BethM
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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True 😂 and now that Wes has all these cool new learning books from PaperPie I make ppl look at those too 😂

Avanders 🤣🤣 14mo
Avanders So true. Though I play it off like, “what, this ol‘ thang?” 😅 14mo
35 likes2 comments
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candc320
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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My library haul from today! The top 2 I purchased from the Friends of the Library shop and the bottom 2 are holds that came in.

mcctrish I just got my hands on London Séance society at Costco 1y
candc320 Yay, @mcctrish !! I was so happy to find it at the library and it was only $3! 1y
32 likes2 comments
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BookBosomed1
Library Book | Susan Orlean
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POV: Bookmobile librarian was on vacation in February, which means that yesterday all of these library books were delivered (a month‘s worth)! 😱

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Monica5
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

I had this book for awhile and finally read it. I enjoyed it, though to me it was more a history of libraries instead of a true crime book. It didn't spend a whole lot of time on the 1986 fire at LA's Central Library. I still enjoyed it though. First book for February Bingo.

#BookSpinBingo @TheAromaofBooks
#OffTheShelf2023 @Tove_Reads @Andrew65

Tove_Reads I read this one some years ago. 1y
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 1y
Andrew65 Brilliant 👏👏👏 1y
17 likes3 comments
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chasjjlee
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Library book nook ❤️.

Julsmarshall ❤️❤️❤️ 1y
dabbe Loverly.❣️ 1y
28 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Robotswithpersonality
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

While a non-fiction book about a devastating library fire might seem an odd first choice read for the Christmas long weekend, the effort of the community and staff to get the library collection back on its feet gave me just the warm fuzzies I was looking for this holiday season. And hey, a festive red and gold cover feels thematically appropriate too. 😉 1/?

Robotswithpersonality It can be argued that given the ultimate uncertainty surrounding the prime suspect in the possible arson, that the book spends too much time focused on that individual. But the inciting incident for this book is the library fire, and investigating the cause(s?) feels essential to the reader, even if it's not a mystery that can be solved. 1y
Robotswithpersonality I loved the window into the history of LA's library system, and then the Central Library itself, as well as its librarians. Again, perhaps you could argue less detail about historical figures not related to the time of the fire was required, but it's kinda wild and fascinating (and from a feminist point of view, regularly exasperating). 3/? 1y
Robotswithpersonality I am glad to have a peek into the restoration efforts for the book collection, though I'm surprised the restoration of the building itself was so lightly touched upon. I would also happily read a book that focused solely on the recuperative efforts for collection and building though I'm sensing a pattern in researchers/journalists writing books on libraries in jeopardy who don't seem to think that will be interesting enough for the average reader, and thus seek out stories on the margins to spice things up. 🤷🏼‍♂️ 1y
Robotswithpersonality 5/5 Orlean's love for libraries and books shines throughout the text, so I guess I can forgive the subject creep. Also: absolutely adore the book titles with Dewey Decimal classification numbers as chapter titles intimating the upcoming chapter's contents. 🤌🏻💋 Warning: homophobia, mention of suicide 1y
8 likes4 comments
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Robotswithpersonality
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Ah ha! I learned a thing. Evidently that ripply, wibbly thing pages do when they get wet actually has a name:

"cockled": " the wrinkled, puckered, waving, or curling condition of a page or of the boards of a book, which is caused by non-uniform drying and shrinkage."

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Robotswithpersonality
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Ah, gendered language, so often complicating matters for no good reason. What the hell is a "girlish complexion"? Is that meant to be complimentary or derogatory? If the author meant a 'youthful complexion', why not just write that?! ??‍♂️? 'Smooth or unblemished skin' might work, though emphasis on such feels like bowing to beauty standards...next question, why was this a necessary descriptor? 'Appeared younger than his age', there, fixed it!

6 likes1 stack add
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Sarahreadstoomuch
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

If you ever wanted some behind the scenes info on how libraries work or what librarians do…. Here‘s a great start. The story and mystery surrounding the LA Central Library fire was fascinating to me, and I enjoyed all the set and history included. One irk for me is that it gives the impression that libraries LOVE all sorts of weird stuff to be donated, and that‘s not always the case. #scarathlon +16pts

23 likes1 stack add
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Laughterhp
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Mehso-so

Shocker, behind on reviews!

Read this for #Booked2022 - Written by a journalist

Probably an unpopular opinion, but it just didn‘t do it for me. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I‘m thinking it would have been better in print, because a lot of it was her just listing off books..

Cinfhen I liked this one, I did print but it had some weaker moments. Glad you gave it a try! 2y
51 likes1 stack add1 comment
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K.Wielechowski
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

The overarching story is about the fire at Los Angeles‘ Central Library in 1986 where over 700,000 books, plays, periodicals, maps, and other items were lost to the blaze and the fight to restore the library and what was lost.
The rest was a love letter to libraries, librarians, and the communities that form around them.

9 likes1 stack add
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shanaqui
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

Looks like I might get a #BookSpinBingo after all, now I've finished my #DoubleSpin!

I really liked this book; it's less about the library fire in some ways and more just a history of the whole library, and a little of the development of how libraries are framed through history. Which might sound dry, but there's plenty of fascinating detail.

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shanaqui
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

I'm finding this riveting and wishing I had time to finish it today, aaah. Though it feels weird to spend so much time on Harry Peak when, idk, it doesn't seem like arson was his style?

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shanaqui
Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Need to read this for my #DoubleSpin, so I've just started digging in. It's a horrifying description of a fire, for sure, and I can't help but wonder if any of those firemen suffered longer-term effects...

Trying to figure out a line in #BookSpinBingo, too. It's been a weird old month, and I haven't at all read the things I intended to read! But I have options now, if I read speedily.

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Amandajoy
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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My library is almost done!! The doors get put in this week, and the Pod with all my books will be delivered at the end of the month. I don‘t get the other four bookshelves I ordered until November, but the end is in sight!

Avanders 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 so exciting!! 2y
41 likes1 comment
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monalyisha
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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I‘m being featured on my Library‘s blog. Fun!

Check it out here:
https://www.amesfreelibrary.org/blog/staff-picks/staff-stories/staff-stories-aly...

Smrloomis 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 Awesome! 2y
Graywacke Cool! 2y
Hooked_on_books I like that they include current reads 2y
BiblioLitten I have tried the reader advisory forum at my library for my son and it‘s great! 2y
67 likes4 comments
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triplem80
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

My last finished book in May...I enjoyed it even more than I expected! Definitely worth checking out if you love libraries.

rachelk I loved this book! 2y
10 likes1 comment
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KCofKaysville
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

Interesting book on what libraries do, built around the tragic fire at L.A. Public Library in 1986. Has a lot of history and bios. of people in Calif. who started the library in So. Calif. Could have been a little shorter but very enjoyable.

39 likes3 stack adds
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KCofKaysville
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Poignant part after mentioning her Mom's dementia.

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TheKidUpstairs
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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#OnThisDay in 1986 a devastating fire hit Los Angeles' Central Library. It damaged or destroyed more than one million books. Thankfully, the alarm systems and fire protection had recently been upgraded, and that advanced warning meant all 400 people inside the building were able to escape uninjured. It took around 350 firefighters and 7 hours before the blaze was extinguished. Arson was suspected, but the culprit remains a mystery. #HistoryGetsLIT

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mrp27
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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My book haul from the festival yesterday. Already looking forward to next year.

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KCofKaysville
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

I'm also going to read this one. I've heard good things about it. I think it's about the LA Public Library and other things. As a librarian I feel obligated ! 😉

StaceGhost I loved this book! I want to go to LA just to see the library 2y
Leftcoastzen I thought it was a great read ! 2y
29 likes3 stack adds2 comments
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slategreyskies
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Bookzombie 💗 2y
27 likes1 comment
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Clwojick
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

Finished The Library Book, and jumping straight into Seeing Red for #BookSpinBingo and #ThingsinCommon. ❤️

TheAromaofBooks As always, I love your layout!! 2y
61 likes3 comments
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Graciouswarriorprincess
Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Finally, I can formally announce that I am the new Page Supervisor at the East Regional Branch for Durham County Public Library System.

After months of waiting for official word, it is approved and my first day was today.

I love that my colleagues had my desk cleaned, left swag and officially welcomed me on the public bulletin board as you enter the branch.

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Congratulations 🎊🎉 📚 2y
MittenGirlPeach That‘s wonderful! 2y
Librarybelle Congratulations! 2y
See All 19 Comments
Aims42 Congratulations!!!!! 2y
BookBabe Yay, congratulations! 🙌🏻 2y
CrowCAH Woohoo congrats!!! 2y
Librarianaut Congrats!!!!! 2y
MaureenMc Congratulations! 2y
Bookzombie Congratulations!! 2y
JessClark78 Congratulations! 2y
Tera66 Woo hoo! Congratulations! 2y
LeahBergen Congrats! 👏👏 2y
erzascarletbookgasm 👏Congrats & Best wishes 2y
Zuhkeeyah Congratulations!! 🎉 2y
KellyK Congratulations!! 🎉🥳📚 2y
DaveGreen7777 Congratulations! 😀 2y
DivineDiana Fantastic! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻🥳📚 2y
62 likes19 comments
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Leftcoastzen
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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#savvysettings #Library Really ? Nobody used this one today? I really enjoyed this one .I used to have Los Angeles ,Pasadena, and Long Beach library cards .😄📚📖📚📖📚📚📚

jlhammar I really liked this one too. Good choice! 2y
Eggs Agreed 💯 2y
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks 👏🏻📚😻 2y
70 likes3 comments
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IMASLOWREADER
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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7 likes1 stack add
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Kshakal
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Eggs Perfect ❤️📚❤️ 2y
37 likes1 comment
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Madison91
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Panpan

This was the mOst boring book, I‘ve ever had the displeasure to read.

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Rachiiebookdragon
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
Mehso-so

115 pages read in 1 h 54 min, via @leioapp (http://leio.co).

An insightful read. 3.5/5 Read for #TheStorygraphGenreChallenge2022 #PopSugarReadingChallenge2022 #52bookclubreadingchallenge2022

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Ddzmini
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

I‘ve read this rather quickly although I liked the book it was a quick read… the authors love of book was equal to I believe everyone on Litsy enjoyable

67 likes3 stack adds
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Ddzmini
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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So I‘ve chosen the above tagged book for this challenge… I‘ve been wanting to read this 🤗📖

Trashcanman 🤗 2y
shanaqui Ooh, this sounds like my kinda read... 2y
74 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Skygoddess1
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Today‘s move went rather well. The movers got all my heavy items (piano, bookshelves) moved with relative ease. The boyfriend decided that I should have my own library/reading room. Still have more books to bring over, and need to hang my literary pictures, but the library room is coming along. #personallibrary

Chrissyreadit Your shelves look great! 2y
Skygoddess1 @Chrissyreadit Thanks! It‘ll be nice once everything is complete to retreat there for some peace, quiet and good reading 2y
erzascarletbookgasm Looking good 👍😊 2y
33 likes3 comments
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LibraryCin
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Mehso-so

The book is a mix of disaster, biography, and history. It was good. I particularly found the information about arson interesting. It‘s not that easy to tell if a fire is arson. There is lots of interesting info about the inner workings of a library and its services, but I‘m a librarian, so that wasn‘t really new to me. There were some photos included in the book, mostly of the previous librarians (and one of Harry Peak).