I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Library Book is about much more than the tragic fire that the Los Angeles Public Library suffered in the 80’s. I had never heard of the fire before, and the focus on its main suspect didn’t sound all that interesting to me during the first few pages of the book. But I stuck with it because I love books and libraries (just like everyone else on Goodreads).
The author fluctuates between the following topics: the day of the fire itself, the investigation of Harry Peak (the only suspect), libraries in general, and the past, present, and future of the L.A. Public Library.
Susan Orlean writes in a very engaging manner, and you can tell that this book was thoroughly researched. Every time I had a question, she seemed to read my mind and answer it within the next paragraph. The beginning of each chapter is quite fun since she lists the catalogue information for five or so books whose titles tie into the topic of the chapter somehow.
The historic bits about the L.A. Public Library were especially interesting to me since they detailed the very unique personalities of its first head librarians, as well as the architectural story of the building.
Even though the subject of the fire is highly dramatic, I personally didn’t care to hear about the investigation after a few chapters because a culprit was never found, and because Harry Peak’s constant fibbing became tiresome to read about. His vanity got in the way of a good story. But if you’re into true crime, there is plenty in here to pique your interest.
Overall, this is a fun micro-history, and I’d recommend it to fans of that genre, or to people who are curious about libraries in general.