Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

One of my favourite memories from when I was younger would be the smell of the library. While we never haunted it as frequently as the author of this book, going there was always a treat and now, I make it a point to visit the library regularly (although this is more for sanity and cost-saving reasons). And so, with a title like this, how could I resist requesting it from NetGalley? I barely needed to read that it was about the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library before I was hooked.

The Library Book has two stories: the first is the history of the Los Angeles Public Library - how it started and how it grew, and the second is, as mentioned before, on the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library.

Obviously, I found this fascinating. Of the two stories, I thought the story of the Los Angeles library to be more interesting. While I've never been to that particular library, I can definitely see the beauty of it and I love how all the people working there are so passionate about the library. The book definitely brings the library to life.

On the other hand, I thought the story about the 1986 fire was a bit of a let down. Perhaps its because I thought this was a solved mystery (the way the book opens definitely implies that Harry Peak is the culpirt) and so the sudden open end was a bit of a shock. Or maybe it's because the book alternates between the history and workings of the library and the 1986 fire, which means that the case never really has time to build up steam. In any case, I found that I would have much preferred to read about about the library with this case being just a small component of it, rather than half the book.

Overall, I thought that this was a beautiful tribute to libraries, and to the Los Angeles Public Library in particular. While I'm not sure if the libraries in Singapore work the same way, I found it very eye-opening to read about how libraries in America work, how they used to work, and how they are changing for the future.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

1 comment :

  1. Public libraries were a big part of my childhood. I have never been to the one featured in this book though.


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