There is truly nothing better than a book that speaks to the almost magical quality of reading. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always found the library to be such an awe-inspiring place. I can still hardly believe that so many books exist in one place that are completely free! Reading Susan Orlean’s non-fiction tome was an utterly heartwarming experience for me. I loved getting reminded of that special library magic where people in a community gather with a quiet respect for gaining knowledge and learning. But Orlean’s book isn’t just a tribute to this important civic location, it’s also a suspenseful, driven account of the devastating Central Library fire in Los Angeles in 1986. Although the tone feels so somber for this part of the story (it breaks my heart to think of all of those damaged and lost books), Orlean writes with such craft that I almost felt like I was reading a thriller as I rushed to find out who was responsible for the fire. She also sprinkles in sections about the history of libraries and the people over the decades who worked to make the library system into what it is today. One would think these details would feel boring or stifling, but I found every line to be fascinating and enjoyable to read about. Any story that can put me back in touch with the enchantment of reading is a win in my book (no pun intended), but Orlean has created a work that mixes important societal issues (like homelessness and poverty) with a universal love of reading that many can relate to. I’m instantly recommending this to every book lover I know.
5 stars (although I would give it more!)
*Free ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*