Book reviews / Non fiction / Read Harder

Book review: The Library Book

THIS IS IT! THE FINAL READ HARDER BOOK! This time it was number 19, a book of nonviolent true crime.  In one way, I don’t think it was probably the best example of non-violent true crime as about 80% of the book was about the Los Angeles Central Library. But anyway, it was mostly interesting and a little bit annoying

The book’s hook is the fire that broke out in the library in 1986. Interwoven is the story of Harry Peak, the only ever suspect in the case. Harry Peak really isn’t a sympathetic character (to me, at least) and seemed like an inveterate liar and a bit of of a twat. So as the interesting stuff about the library happened, you’d occasionally get this intrusion with annoying Harry Peak being a bit of a twat again, and I just didn’t care about his story by the end.

In other ways, the author’s love of the subject broke through in slightly over the top ways, which made me cringe a little bit. Like there’s a whole bit where she decides to burn a book and is all “oh what book” and its just a bit…self indulgent. Get back to the library already.

The story of the library and all the librarians, going back to the founding of the library were all really interesting. The musing of the library as being part of the community and being a place to find information (and not just books) was great. I liked all the bits about rebuilding the library, how the dried out the waterlogged books and resisting whether it was arson in the first place were all super interesting. I know you need a hook for a book and the arson story could have been it, but I’d almost rather it had been a small chapter, rather than a focal point.

What it did make me want to do is visit the Los Angeles Central Library though, like check out the chandelier! So there’s at least one thing it did, make me want to go back to LA once more (I had a stop over once but wasn’t immediately taken with the desire to return).

Anyway, it’s mostly fine.


I quite enjoyed the challenge as I discovered some a new author like Zen Cho, finally read some Octavia Butler, and used it as an excuse to devour Gods of Jade and Shadow as soon as it arrived. It was also a good excuse to read things I already owned like The Design of Everyday Things and A Thousand Ships.

Will I do it again? Maybe. We’ll see what the list looks like.

One thought on “Book review: The Library Book

  1. Pingback: My Read Harder list | Blogendorff

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s