--Dave Eggers, author of The Circle and The Monk of Mokha
"Susan Orlean has long been one of our finest storytellers, and she proves it again with The Library Book. A beautifully written and richly reported account, it sheds new light on a thirty-year-old mystery--and, what's more, offers a moving tribute to the invaluableness of libraries."
--David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon and The Lost City of Z
"After reading Susan Orlean's The Library Book, I'm quite sure I'll never look at libraries, or librarians, the same way again. This is classic Orlean--an exploration of a devastating fire becomes a journey through a world of infinite richness, populated with unexpected characters doing unexpected things, with unexpected passion."
--Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City, In the Garden of Beasts, and Dead Wake
"Mesmerizing . . . A riveting mix of true crime, history, biography, and immersion journalism. . . . Probing, prismatic, witty, dramatic, and deeply appreciative, Orlean's chronicle celebrates libraries as sanctuaries, community centers, and open universities run by people of commitment, compassion, creativity, and resilience."
--Booklist (starred review)
"Engaging . . . Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey."
"Of course, I will always read anything that Susan Orlean writes--and I would encourage you to do the same, regardless of the topic, because she's always brilliant. But The Library Book is a particularly beautiful and soul-expanding book--even by Orleanean standards. You're going to hear a lot about how important this story is, for shining a spotlight on libraries and the heroic people who run them. That's all true, but there's an even better reason to read it--because it will keep you spellbound from first page to last. Don't miss out on this one, people!" --Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love and Big Magic
"Moving . . . A constant pleasure to read . . . Everybody who loves books should check out The Library Book. . . . Orlean, a longtime New Yorker writer, has been captivating us with human stories for decades, and her latest book is a wide-ranging, deeply personal, and terrifically engaging investigation of humanity's bulwark against oblivion: the library. . . . As a narrator, Orlean moves like fire herself, with a pyrotechnic style that smolders for a time over some ancient bibliographic tragedy, leaps to the latest technique in book restoration, and then illuminates the story of a wildly eccentric librarian. Along the way, we learn how libraries have evolved, responded to depressions and wars, and generally thrived despite a constant struggle for funds. Over the holidays, every booklover in America is going to give or get this book. . . . You can't help but finish The Library Book and feel grateful that these marvelous places belong to us all."
--Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"A sheer delight. . . . Orlean has created a book as rich in insight and as varied as the treasures contained on the shelves in any local library."
--Chris Woodyard, USA Today
"Exquisitely written, consistently entertaining . . . A loving tribute not just to a place or an institution but to an idea . . . What makes The Library Book so enjoyable is the sense of discovery that propels it, the buoyancy when Orlean is surprised or moved by what she finds. . . . Her depiction of the Central Library fire on April 29, 1986, is so rich with specifics that it's like a blast of heat erupting from the page. . . . The Library Book is about the fire and the mystery of how it started--but in some ways that's the least of it. It's also a history of libraries, and of a particular library, as well as the personal story of Orlean and her mother, who was losing her memory to dementia while Orlean was retrieving her own memories by writing this book."
--Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times
"Captivating . . . A delightful love letter to public libraries . . . In telling the story of this one library, Orlean reminds readers of the spirit of them all, their mission to welcome and equalize and inform, the wonderful depths and potential that they--and maybe all of us, as well--contain. . . . In other hands the book would have been a notebook dump, packed with random facts that weren't germane but felt too hard-won or remarkable to omit. Orlean's lapidary skills include both unearthing the data and carving a storyline out of the sprawl, piling up such copious and relevant details that I wondered how many mountains of research she discarded for each page of jewels."
--Rebekah Denn, Christian Science Monitor
A New York Times Book of the Year, 2018
A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK
A dazzling love letter to a beloved institution - our libraries.
After moving to Los Angeles, Susan Orlean became fascinated by a mysterious local crime that has gone unsolved since it was carried out on the morning of 29 April 1986: who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library, ultimately destroying more than 400,000 books, and perhaps even more perplexing, why?
With her characteristic humour, insight and compassion, Orlean uses this terrible event as a lens through which to tell the story of all libraries - their history, their meaning and their uncertain future as they adapt and redefine themselves in a digital world.
Filled with heart, passion and extraordinary characters, The Library Book discusses the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives.