Who would have thought a book about a library could be so interesting? Susan Orlean certainly conveys why libraries are of such importance to communities, and why people protest when they’re under threat.
The book is based around the major fire at the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986 and who may have caused it, particularly serial liar Harry Peak, who emerged as the main suspect. Woven between details of the investigation and Peak’s life story are accounts of the wonderful parade of people who served as Head Librarian in the library’s history, such as poet, translator, adventurer and serial womaniser Charles Lummis. We also gain an insight into the lives of the library’s many patrons, including homeless people, students, thieves and those researching for their own books.
Even in this age of instantaneous access to information, our love of books has not diminished. Searching the shelves of a library is an adventure: what will you discover, where will you travel, who will you get to know, will you find yourself uplifted, sad, or reflective?
Brimming with interest, The Library Book is an unusual and fascinating read.