Oh, Susan Orlean! You have managed to combine two of my very favorite things– really great narrative nonfiction and libraries!
There is tragedy – a horrible library fire! There are awesome and quirky librarians – past and present! There is a mystery man – arsonist or overly chatty attention-seeker?! There is history and books and social activism and wonder!
It’s hard for me to look at this book objectively, really, which is why I might overdo it a bit on the exclamation points here and there or all over the place. I have loved libraries my whole life, since spending Saturday mornings checking out the maximum of ten allowed at my hometown library. I worked in the high school library and loved my college libraries for their classic quiet reading rooms and quirky corners and amazing research help. For many years, I was a regular public library patron and also took the kids I worked with to its programs. I was lucky enough to find my way to working at one after a whole career in social services and still help out in a school library several years after my son moved on to middle and high school. I sometimes visit libraries on my vacations. So I have no perspective – ZERO – on libraries.
And knowing all of that about me, you can know that if I love this book, there is much to be loved in it.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean