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Susan Orlean: The Library Book

In The Library Book, Orlean weaves together investigative journalism, personal introspection, operational insights, fascinating characters, diverse culture, and social openness to tell engaging, riveting stories of the evolution of libraries. Orlean who writes for The New Yorker is both an excellent storyteller and reporter; therefore, this 300-page book is a breezy read—Carly Loman’s exceptional typesetting helps as well. If you love the library, you will appreciate this book. Here’s one of my favorite passages:

In Senegal, the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned. When I first heard the phrase, I didn’t understand it, but over time I came to realize it was perfect. Our minds and souls contain volumes made of our experiences and emotions; each individual’s consciousness is a collection of memories we’ve cataloged and stored inside us, a private library of a life lived. It is something that no one else can entirely share, one that burns down and disappears when we die. But if you can take something from that internal collection and share it—with one person or with the larger world, on the page or in a story recited—it takes on a life of its own.