The Library Book

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A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK

A WASHINGTON POST TOP 10 BOOK OF THE YEAR * A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER and NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018

“A constant pleasure to read…Everybody who loves books should check out The Library Book.” —The Washington Post

“CAPTIVATING…DELIGHTFUL.” —Christian Science Monitor * “EXQUISITELY WRITTEN, CONSISTENTLY ENTERTAINING.” —The New York Times * “MESMERIZING…RIVETING.” —Booklist (starred review)

A dazzling love letter to a beloved institution—and an investigation into one of its greatest mysteries—from the bestselling author hailed as a “national treasure” by The Washington Post.

On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

Along the way, Orlean introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters from libraries past and present—from Mary Foy, who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the Los Angeles Public Library at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, a pastor, citrus farmer, and polymath known as “The Human Encyclopedia” who roamed the library dispensing information; from Charles Lummis, a wildly eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the current staff, who do heroic work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.

Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country. It is also a master journalist’s reminder that, perhaps especially in the digital era, they are more necessary than ever.
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About the author

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. She is the author of seven books, including Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award–winning film Adaptation. She lives with her family and her animals in upstate New York and may be reached at SusanOrlean.com and Twitter.com/SusanOrlean.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Oct 16, 2018
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781476740201
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / Social History
History / United States / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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!--[if gte mso 9] ![endif]-- The gripping story of the rise of early drug culture in America, from the author of the acclaimed Can't Find My Way Home

With an intricate storyline that unites engaging characters and themes and reads like a novel, Bop Apocalypse details the rise of early drug culture in America by weaving together the disparate elements that formed this new and revolutionary segment of the American social fabric.

Drawing upon his rich decades of writing experience, master storyteller Martin Torgoff connects the birth of jazz in New Orleans, the first drug laws, Louis Armstrong, Mezz Mezzrow, Harry Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, swing, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, the Savoy Ballroom, Reefer Madness, Charlie Parker, the birth of bebop, the rise of the Beat Generation, and the coming of heroin to Harlem. Aficionados of jazz, the Beats, counterculture, and drug history will all find much to enjoy here, with a cast of characters that includes vivid and memorable depictions of Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jackie McLean, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Borroughs, Jack Kerouac, Herbert Huncke, Terry Southern, and countless others.

Bop Apocalypse is also a living history that teaches us much about the conflicts and questions surrounding drugs today, casting many contemporary issues in a new light by connecting them back to the events of this transformative era. At a time when marijuana legalization is rapidly becoming a reality, it takes us back to the advent of marijuana prohibition, when the templates of modern drug law, policy, and culture were first established, along with the concomitant racial stereotypes. As a new opioid epidemic sweeps through white working- and middle-class communities, it brings us back to when heroin first arrived on the streets of Harlem in the 1940s. And as we debate and grapple with the gross racial disparities of mass incarceration, it puts into sharp and provocative focus the racism at the very roots of our drug war.

Having spent a lifetime at the nexus of drugs and music, Torgoff reveals material never before disclosed and offers new insights, crafting and contextualizing Bop Apocalypse into a truly novel contribution to our understanding of jazz, race, literature, drug culture, and American social and cultural history.


The world's fascination with New Orleans stems from the allure of the music of the city_music that owes its origins and development to many sources. Until now, popular and scholarly books, dissertations, and articles that attempt to explain these sources have failed to recognize the unsung heroes of the New Orleans jazz scene: the teachers in its public schools. Through more than 90 original interviews and extensive research in New Orleans' historical collections, Dr. Kennedy documents ways that public school teachers pushed an often unwilling urban institution to become an important structure that transmitted jazz and the other musical traditions of the city to future musicians. Music legends from Louis Armstrong to Ellis Marsalis Jr._who also provides the foreword_are just two of the many well-known former students of the New Orleans public schools. Chord Changes on the Chalkboard shows that, particularly after the 1920s, public school students benefited not only from the study of instrumental music and theory, but also from direct exposure to musicians, many of whom were invited to perform for the students. The impact the teachers had on generations of musicians and music fans is undeniable, yet their teaching techniques are only part of the story. In addition to the successes enjoyed with their students, the teachers' own musical experiences, recordings, and performances are also examined. The interaction between teachers and students in New Orleans public school classrooms opens a new field of research for music historians, and this book is the first to document ways in which public school teachers acted as mentors to shape the future of jazz and the music of New Orleans. An important addition to its field, Chord Changes on a Chalkboard will provide invaluable information for jazz fans and historians, music scholars and students, and it is also useful reading for any public school teacher. A must for any music library, it should also be a welcome addition to any collection supporting African-American history or popular culture.
A rich mosaic of diary entries and letters from Marilyn Monroe, Cesar Chavez, Susan Sontag, Albert Einstein, and many more, this is the story of Los Angeles as told by locals, transplants, and some just passing through.

“Los Angeles is refracted in all its irreducible, unexplainable glory.”—Los Angeles Times

The City of Angels has played a distinct role in the hearts, minds, and imaginations of millions of people, who see it as the ultimate symbol of the American Dream. David Kipen, a cultural historian and avid scholar of Los Angeles, has scoured libraries, archives, and private estates to assemble a kaleidoscopic view of a truly unique city.
 
From the Spanish missionary expeditions in the early 1500s to the Golden Age of Hollywood to the strange new world of social media, this collection is a slice of life in L.A. through the years. The pieces are arranged by date—January 1st to December 31st—featuring selections from different decades and centuries. What emerges is a vivid tapestry of insights, personal discoveries, and wry observations that together distill the essence of the city.
 
As sprawling and magical as the city itself, Dear Los Angeles is a fascinating, must-have collection for everyone in, from, or touched by Southern California.
 
With excerpts from the writing of Ray Bradbury • Edgar Rice Burroughs • Octavia E. Butler • Italo Calvino • Winston Churchill • Noël Coward • Simone De Beauvoir • James Dean • T. S. Eliot • William Faulkner • Lawrence Ferlinghetti • Richard Feynman • F. Scott Fitzgerald • Allen Ginsberg • Dashiell Hammett • Charlton Heston  • Zora Neale Hurston • Christopher Isherwood • John Lennon • H. L. Mencken • Anaïs Nin • Sylvia Plath • Ronald Reagan • Joan Rivers • James Thurber • Dalton Trumbo • Evelyn Waugh • Tennessee Williams • P. G. Wodehouse • and many more

Advance praise for Dear Los Angeles

“This book’s a brilliant constellation, spread out over a few centuries and five thousand square miles. Each tiny entry pins the reality of the great unreal city of Angels to a moment in human time—moments enthralled, appalled, jubilant, suffering, gossiping or bragging—and it turns out, there’s no better way to paint a picture of the place.”—Jonathan Lethem

“[A] scintillating collection of letters and diary entries . . . an engrossing trove of colorful, witty insights.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
*A New York Times Notable Book*
*A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year*

From the bestselling National Book Award finalist and author of The Big House comes “a well-blended narrative packed with top-notch reporting and relevance for our own time” (The Boston Globe) about the young athletes who battled in the legendary Harvard-Yale football game of 1968 amidst the sweeping currents of one of the most transformative years in American history.

On November 23, 1968, there was a turbulent and memorable football game: the season-ending clash between Harvard and Yale. The final score was 29-29. To some of the players, it was a triumph; to others a tragedy. And to many, the reasons had as much to do with one side’s miraculous comeback in the game’s final forty-two seconds as it did with the months that preceded it, months that witnessed the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, police brutality at the Democratic National Convention, inner-city riots, campus takeovers, and, looming over everything, the war in Vietnam.

George Howe Colt’s The Game is the story of that iconic American year, as seen through the young men who lived it and were changed by it. One player had recently returned from Vietnam. Two were members of the radical antiwar group SDS. There was one NFL prospect who quit to devote his time to black altruism; another who went on to be Pro-Bowler Calvin Hill. There was a guard named Tommy Lee Jones, and fullback who dated a young Meryl Streep. They played side by side and together forged a moment of startling grace in the midst of the storm.

“Vibrant, energetic, and beautifully structured” (NPR), this magnificent and intimate work of history is the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary time, and of a country facing issues that we continue to wrestle with to this day. “The Game is the rare sports book that lives up to the claim of so many entrants in this genre: It is the portrait of an era” (The Wall Street Journal).
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
 
A modern classic of personal journalism, The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean’s wickedly funny, elegant, and captivating tale of an amazing obsession. Determined to clone an endangered flower—the rare ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii—a deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man named John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling subculture, through Florida’s swamps and beyond, along with the Seminoles who help him and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end, Orlean—and the reader—will have more respect for underdog determination and a powerful new definition of passion.
 
In this new edition, coming fifteen years after its initial publication and twenty years after she first met the “orchid thief,” Orlean revisits this unforgettable world, and the route by which it was brought to the screen in the film Adaptation, in a new retrospective essay.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
Praise for The Orchid Thief
 
“Stylishly written, whimsical yet sophisticated, quirkily detailed and full of empathy . . . The Orchid Thief shows [Orlean’s] gifts in full bloom.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Fascinating . . . an engrossing journey [full] of theft, hatred, greed, jealousy, madness, and backstabbing.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“Orlean’s snapshot-vivid, pitch-perfect prose . . . is fast becoming one of our national treasures.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“Orlean’s gifts [are] her ear for the self-skewing dialogue, her eye for the incongruous, convincing detail, and her Didion-like deftness in description.”—Boston Sunday Globe
 
“A swashbuckling piece of reporting that celebrates some virtues that made America great.”—The Wall Street Journal
The New York Times bestselling book about the early development, growth, and exercise of leadership from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin “should help us raise our expectations of our national leaders, our country, and ourselves” (The Washington Post).

“After five decades of magisterial output, Doris Kearns Goodwin leads the league of presidential historians” (USA TODAY). In her “inspiring” (The Christian Science Monitor) Leadership, Doris Kearns Goodwin draws upon the four presidents she has studied most closely—Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson (in civil rights)—to show how they recognized leadership qualities within themselves and were recognized as leaders by others. By looking back to their first entries into public life, we encounter them at a time when their paths were filled with confusion, fear, and hope.

Leadership tells the story of how they all collided with dramatic reversals that disrupted their lives and threatened to shatter forever their ambitions. Nonetheless, they all emerged fitted to confront the contours and dilemmas of their times. At their best, all four were guided by a sense of moral purpose. At moments of great challenge, they were able to summon their talents to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others. Does the leader make the times or do the times make the leader?

“If ever our nation needed a short course on presidential leadership, it is now” (The Seattle Times). This seminal work provides an accessible and essential road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field. In today’s polarized world, these stories of authentic leadership in times of apprehension and fracture take on a singular urgency. “Goodwin’s volume deserves much praise—it is insightful, readable, compelling: Her book arrives just in time” (The Boston Globe).
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