The Library Book

The Library Book

Audiobook CD - 2018
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Susan Orlean re-opens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling love letter to the beloved institution of libraries.
Publisher: New York : Audioworks, imprint of Simon and Schuster Audio, 2018
Edition: Unabridged
ISBN: 9781508266471
Characteristics: 10 audio discs (approximately 12 hr.) : CD audio, digital ; 4 3/4 in
4 3/4 in
digital,optical,1.4 m/s,mono
audio file,CD audio


From the critics

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JCLCharlesH Jun 03, 2020

This non-fiction exploration of an unsolved library fire goes beyond its blurb to encompass elements of Los Angeles history, and descriptions of modern library services. Orlean frequently breaks from the main narrative, but the tangents are skillfully woven back into the whole to make a seamless experience.

Apr 25, 2020


Mar 10, 2020

The book is very interesting, and goes into the deep history of the Los Angeles library, which I didn't expect to find so interesting. The author reads it herself, however, and she sounds bored to tears by her own writing. Hire a real reader next time; this is tedious.

Feb 25, 2020

Good story, but hard to listen to the author/narrator. It might have been wise to have someone else narrate.

Dec 06, 2019

The author attempts to portray the history of the main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library while also weaving in the story about the building catching fire, damaging or destroying over one million books. The result is some interesting library trivia here and there, but alas, overall this book does not provide enough meaningful substance, especially given it takes up a full 10 audio CDs. Unless you're a fan of library trivia, a little too tedious. Not recommended.

Sep 09, 2019

A penpal wrote about this book two times, raving that it was her favorite book of this year. That was a strong enough endorsement for me to borrow it from the library (of course).

As a long-time supporter of libraries and a patron of the LAPL for many years, the building is familiar, but much of the information was new. I did not know anything about the huge fire in 1986, which consumes a large part of the book.

While the book is about libraries, and the LAPL in particular, it is also about information, and how it is available to us. Along with Frederick Wiseman's 3+ hour film, Ex Libris, about the New York Public Library, one should have a newfound appreciation of what libraries can provide.

May 15, 2019

On the surface, a non-fiction tome about libraries would seem to hold great promise as a sleep aid. But, in Susan Orlean's capable hands, it's smart, fun, enlightening and entirely readable. Orlean covers the history and future of the world's libraries generally and of L.A.'s Central Library in particular, including stories about and interviews with present and former librarians. The book's hub is the 1986 fire that destroyed 400,000 books at the Central Library and the mystery around who set the fire - if there was an arsonist at all. As a great fan and user of libraries, I found <i>The Library Book</i> fascinating, both as a reported story and as a tribute to libraries' adaptability and importance in civilizations' and communities' cultures.

IndyPL_LoriO Feb 28, 2019

Orlean begins with the story of the unsolved 1986 Los Angeles Library fire, but her book eventually becomes an intricately woven analysis of what libraries once were, what they are now, and what they might become. Her meticulous research results in a captivating book that immerses readers in the world of libraries, and in the end, shows us that no matter what technologies the future holds, they will always be an essential part of our communities. I listened to the e-audio edition read by the author. Highly recommended.

Feb 24, 2019

I'm a huge fan of libraries, but I could not get more than a minute or two into this book. The author made the mistake of being her own reader and her voice is horrible. My wife agrees with me on this. It's supposed to be a good book, but get the print version, not the audiobook.

Jan 22, 2019

Orlean uses the devastating fire at the central Los Angeles Public Library in April 1986 to explore the history and impact of public libraries in America. Part Los Angeles history, part detective story, the author draws the reader in with her stories of colorful library directors, even more colorful library patrons, and the building itself which was designed by Bertram Goodhue after his triumph designing the Nebraska State Capitol. As she follows the trail of Harry Peak, the chief suspect, Orlean also uncovers the Hollywood dream that vanishes early for its many seekers. Although based on the Los Angeles Public Library, the author has written an ode to all American public libraries.

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