I’m reviewing a string of audiobooks all together here, and this is another one I found thoroughly enjoyable, although unlike a comedian’s memoir read by the comedian himself, this one would work equally well on paper or e-book. It has that traditional Susan Orlean touch of picking a subject and taking a very, very deep dive into it, coming up with a treasure trove of wonderful, quirky historical details you didn’t know you needed to know.
The ostensible subject is the 1986 fire at the main branch of the Los Angeles public library, but the broader subject is libraries in general — their history and place in American society. Several strands of story — the history of the Los Angeles library, the fire and subsequent investigation into suspected arson, the life story of the main suspect, the role libraries play in society and how they are changing to meet changing times — weave in and out of each other in alternating chapters: all fascinating, and all informative. I thoroughly enjoyed this.