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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 institution—our 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 library—and 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 today’s 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 books—and 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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JessNevertheless
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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It's a beautiful, warm, night in the district, perfect for #audiowalking

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wallacereads
Library Book | Susan Orlean
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I came across a book sale at my local library. I resisted...sigh.

Aims42 Good for you!! I‘m sure it was extremely tempting 1d
TheSpineView You did good. I doubt I could have resisted. 1d
46 likes2 comments
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Emilymdxn
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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I don‘t normally post #bookishproblems but today I sailed right through my train station TWICE and added an hour onto my journey home while reading. I‘m such an idiot 🤭 all the extra walking increased my step count for #bookfitnesschallenge I guess

Clwojick Oh no! 🤦🏻‍♀️ 1d
CouronneDhiver 😂😂 oops! done that before too 1d
marleed I‘ve never lived where a train was an option for a daily commute. I‘m so fascinated by that! And good that the BFC gives you s positive outlook for the extra steps! 1d
BookwormAHN Well at least you got your steps in 🍀 1d
audraelizabeth Yay for silver linings 1d
69 likes5 comments
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essayareayaitch
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
Mehso-so

Not the book I expected, but it was probably my own fault for not reading synopsis, and depending on people's recommendation. I expected more of a criminal case, and how the arsonist was caught. Not the history of the library, and libraries, interspersed with the fire, and "here's a tidbit about Harry Peak". History of library interesting, the fire and case not so much.

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rustoryhuf
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Fifteen pages in and I‘m in love. More than a story about the Los Angeles Central Library fire of 1986, this is a love letter to Libraries, books, and librarians.

25 likes2 stack adds
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Expandingbookshelf
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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“It wasn‘t that time stopped in the library. It was if it were captured here, collected here, and in all libraries-and not only my time, my life, but all human time as well. In the library, time is dammed up-not just stopped but saved. The library is a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever.”

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Rachel.Rencher
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Ahhh 😍 This is the best BOTM I've gotten. I'm obsessed with the tote and the little book pockets that are sewn in. This is definitely coming with me to my next library sale. 🤓📚

Spinning Silver is for Lucas, and the other two are my picks. Have you read this month's BOTM yet?

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

Whoa!! This blew my socks off! It took me a little longer to read because of all the facts but i loved it!! Orlean did a great job covering not only the fire, but the in depth history of the library, the librarians and the arson case. I absolutely loved it and did not expect her to go that in depth. This is a must read!

squirrelbrain I just read this last week and loved it too! One of my faves this year.... 6d
cookreadsleep I‘m glad to hear that. I recommended this for my book club‘s August book. Been hearing mixed things about it, so it‘s nice to hear someone enjoyed it! 6d
83 likes7 stack adds2 comments
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Jas16
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Pickpick

I loved reading about the history of the Los Angeles library system and learning about how libraries have evolved over time. This is really a love letter to libraries and the people who make them what they are.

Jee_HookedOnBookz Enjoyed this too! ❤️ 6d
DaveGreen7777 @rather_be_reading has been sharing such amazing quotes from this book, she convinced me I need to read this one, too! 😀 6d
Jee_HookedOnBookz @DaveGreen7777 pick one up right now! 😉 6d
BethM This looks great 2d
60 likes1 stack add5 comments
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keys_on_fire
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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This whole section is amazing, but I love the last line the best:
“Once words and thoughts are poured into them, books are no longer just paper and ink and glue: they take on a kind of human vitality.”

Mmmmmmmm 🤤 🥰

51 likes1 comment
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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The whole subject of the book

Stephaniereads1 I loved this book! 6d
Briary Okay. I need this book. The quotes, the pictures, everything says PICK ME! 😁 6d
69 likes4 stack adds2 comments
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Love that they did this on the actual book and not the jacket

laceyannea Oh wow this is gorgeous! 6d
71 likes1 stack add1 comment
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Super cool to add on the book

CaliforniaCay Cool! I'm glad you posted these pics, I have the ARC version, so it doesn't include these goodies! 6d
77 likes1 comment
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Acknowlegment: Mom, I made a book for you.

💔💔

40 likes1 comment
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a librarys simple unspoken promise: Here I am, please tell me your story; here is my story, please listen.

31 likes1 comment
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

This is why I wanted to write this book, to tell about a place I love that doesnt belong to me but feels like it is mine...

laceyannea This feeling is so hard to describe. The quote gave me the feels 🤣 6d
27 likes1 comment
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

A library is a good place to soften solitude; a place where you feel part of a conversation that has gone on for hundreds and hundreds of years even when youre all alone.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Central Library was so big that when crowds thin out, the library can feel very private, almost like a secret place...

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

On an average day, seven hundred thousand books are checked out rheough OverDrive.

That is an amazing amount of ebooks!

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

...Librarians with Tattoos cocktail hour...

Am I the only one that thinks this sounds amazing!!??

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Public libraries in the United States outnumber McDonalds.

lover.of.the.classics I like those facts!😂 6d
jewright That‘s amazing! Our small town has a library and no McDonald‘s. I never thought about that before. 6d
27 likes2 comments
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Los Angeles seemed to always be moving toward the eternal future; it was a city that shed memories before they had a chance to stick.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

look up: crepuscular

laceyannea I only know this word because it is what rabbits are, and I have two of them as pets! Good buzzword to know 😎 6d
15 likes1 comment
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Books cannor be killed by fire...people die, but books never die.

Mike.Hall I'm getting strong Fahrenheit 451 vibes from this 6d
18 likes1 comment
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

...librarians should read as a drunkard drinks...

jewright Totally how I used to read before I had kids... gulping a book down in a couple of hours. Now I have a lot more interruptions. 6d
18 likes1 comment
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Books invite all; they constrain none...

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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Book Lunch

tracey38 Looks yum! 6d
85 likes1 comment
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nikirtehsuxlol
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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I got The Library Book from, where else, but the library. Have heard terrible things about the narration (read by the author, ouch). But I‘m about one cd in and it‘s totally fine! Which I‘m grateful for bc my CD player doesn‘t have a 1.25x speed like the audible app does.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Jews believe books are more than just printed documents; they believe books have a kind of hanity and a soul.

Lexeegee I ordered this book as my add on BOTM selection. Can't wait to read it. 1w
rather_be_reading @Lexeegee great choice! i am sad im close to the end 1w
46 likes1 stack add2 comments
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Our minds and souls contain volumes inscribed by our experiences and emotions; each individuals consciousness is a collection of memories weve catalogues and stored inside ys, a private library of a life lived.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Sometimes its harder to notice a place you think you know well; your eyes glide over it, seeing it but not seeing it at all.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

The books that the head librarian...deemed dangerous...were shelved in a locked metal cage in the basement of the library.

🤣🤣

Pruzy Sign me up! For the book that is! 1w
25 likes1 comment
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Every month, more than seven hundred new books arrive at the library.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

In truth, a library is as much a portal as it is a place--it is a transit point, a passage

rsteve388 Hmm so i am discovering 1w
27 likes2 comments
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

In Los Angeles, moments were fortune cookies ready to be cracked open, and in them you might find a movie star, or a successful audition, or a chance encounter with a powerful person who, qith the snap of his fingers would change your life, like a wizard.

Pruzy Where are the powerful life changing people when you need them 1w
rather_be_reading @Pruzy thats the beauty...u dont know,! 1w
Pruzy @rather_be_reading Any tips on how to go about finding them? 1w
24 likes1 stack add3 comments
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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean
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The book murderer.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

In total, four hundred thousand books in Central Library were destroyed in the fire.

😱😱😱

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

It [the fire] had raged for seven hours and thirty-eight minutes.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

...where it glowered angrily, feeding itself book after book, a monster snacking on chips.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

By this time the fire in the library was spreading fluidly, like spilled ink.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

The library had been built to accomodate one million books. By this point, there were more than two million books in its collection.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

On April 29, 1986, the day the library burned...

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Compared to the mute buildings around it, the library seemed more a proclamation than a building.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

...the reddish rooftops were whitened, as if dusted with sugar.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

So the spell libraries once cast on me was renewed.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

In the library, time is dammed up...

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

I pictured Los Angeles as a radiant doughnut, rimmed by milky ocean and bristling mountains, with a big hole in the middle.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

Libraries might have become just a bookmark of memory...

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

...new pages almost felt damp, as if they were wet with creation.

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rather_be_reading
The Library Book | Susan Orlean

I couldnt walk into a bookstore without leaving with something, or several somethings.

RadicalReader Me all the way especially at Half Price Books 1w
lover.of.the.classics Meeee toooooo!!! 1w
rather_be_reading @lover.of.the.classics lol 🤣 1w
23 likes4 comments