April 23, 2018

Maybe put Susan Orlean’s new book about libraries on hold at your local library


Susan Orlean, longtime New Yorker staff writer and author of books such as The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin, has announced her upcoming new book in ab exclusive to Entertainment Weekly’s David Canfield.

Orlean is an author who has the ability to take a subject you’ve probably never spent much time thinking about–a famous dog, the theft of rare flowers, how people across America spend their Saturday nights–and, using her deep research and storytelling skills, turn you into someone who is passionately pondering every last detail and then looking for more for absorb. So we can only imagine how we will handle our enthusiasm for Orlean’s next book, focused on a subject we’re already quite taken with: libraries.

It’s called The Library Book and will focus on the case  of the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire, which destroyed or damaged over a million books. Canfield writes, “Weaving her life-long love of books and reading with the fascinating history of libraries and the sometimes-eccentric characters who run them, Orlean investigates the fire to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives.”

Orlean spent years researching, and interviewed various KAPL employees and patrons. From the story of the fire, the book promises to expand to a wider look at what libraries provide in addition to books and why we still need them today.

Orlean’s soft spot for libraries is obvious. She tells Canfield:

“My sweetest memories are of going to the library with my mother when I was a kid, browsing the stacks with her, savoring even the smell of the books and the way they felt in my lap when we were driving home and I had my chosen few piled on my lap. Taking my own son to the library reminded me of how much I love libraries, how magical they are — and the next thing I knew, I was drawn into the story of one in particular, the Central Library in Los Angeles: its life and times, and the dramatic story of the arson, the worst library fire in American history, that nearly shut it down.”

The Library Book releases on October 16th. Might want to put this on hold at your local branch now.



Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.