The Library Book

The Library Book by Susan Orlean is one of the most compelling reads I’ve had in ages. The Los Angeles Downtown Central Library fire in 1986 makes up half of this fascinating book. Susan tracks the history of the possible arsonist brilliantly. The other half deals with the history of the Central Library from its meager beginning in the 1800’s through today. Susan lovingly writes about her love of books and libraries. There are too numerous chestnuts peppered throughout this masterpiece to cover in my review. Women weren’t allowed library cards until the 20th century. One of the head librarians made notes in books about whether they were worth reading or warning not to read the book. The calls libraries would receive asking for help is hysterical. A patron is a writer in Hebrew. He wanted to create a pun between the word for Zion and the word for penis. They couldn’t find a term for penis but the word copulate is mtsayen which helped her make her pun tsion.  This is a must read.

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