April, 1986, the fire alarm goes off at the Los Angeles Central Library. The patrons leave their personal items and borrowed books spread out on tables and chairs and head for the exits. This is surely routine. After all, these fire alarms are always false. Or are they? Not this time.
Fire fighters fought the fire for seven agonizing hours. It burned at 2000 degrees and destroyed 400,000 books, damaging another 700,000. The staggering numbers are mind blowing. How could this happen? Was it arson? Or accident?
NYT bestselling author Susan Orlean delves deeply into the whys and wherefores of this tragic book event. Books and libraries are her passion and she manages to bring this to the page of her new book ‘THE LIBRARY BOOK.”
I’ve been enjoying the books of Orlean since she introduced us to the secrets of the ghost orchid in “THE ORCHID THIEF” in 1998. A bestselling movie was made using the book as a base.
So, back to the book at hand. Arson? Some immediately pointed the finger at a young man who had been seen in the library that very morning. Harry Peak was a young actor with a shady background. Orlean goes above and beyond with her search into Peak’s past. But to what avail? Accident? Maybe. It’s been more than thirty years and the puzzle is still not solved. But the story Orlean brings vividly to life in her new book is brilliant. I adore this book. It’s the perfect gift for the reader on your list.
Do you remember the news the day of the fire? Probably not. I have a vague memory of it. The big news item that day vastly overshadowed the fire. You see, Chernobyl blew its top that day and it was THE news item.
I’ve always loved spending time in libraries. I have my mom and grandmother to thank for it. I was twelve when they would send me down the street to our local library to pick out mysteries for them. We lived in a tiny town in Delaware and our library was housed in an old three-story house. I still recall standing on a stool to reach the books high up on shelves. I would open the books up to the back and slide the library card out to see if their names were listed. Young people will not know what I am talking about. This was way before automation. People signed their names on the card and borrowed the books. I was always able to bring home mysteries neither of them had read.
This unique book is coming along with me on my lecture tour this season. I want every book lover to know how wonderful and important it is.
My review copy came from SIBA and is published by Simon & Schuster. This is a major book and is one of my favorites this year!
We have gorgeous finished hard covers of THE LIBRARY BOOK at Copperfish Books. They are discounted 20% and are also available online. Come on up to see us. We’d love to talk to you about books!