Orlean is one of my favorite nonfiction writers. The topic doesn't matter, she's going to teach me something weird and wonderful and even if she doesn't spark an obsession in me, she does a brilliant job of explaining why other people love whatever it is so much.
So, yeah, no surprise that I was way into this. I loved the history of the L.A. Public Library; the remembrances of her childhood visits to the library with her mom, the dramatic account of the Central Library fire, the bizarre true crime/Kafkaesque political nightmare that was the aftermath of the fire, the sidebar on traveling libraries...but most of all, the librarians. No one's perfect, everyone has flaws, whatever. ..Not librarians. Every single one of them is a superior being blessing this world with their kindness and helpfulness, their eternal quests for truth and justice. I am an agnostic and a secular humanist who believes in nothing except that the scientific method is really useful, but librarians are very nearly holy in my mind, and libraries are almost sacred, but also, perfectly pragmatic. Orlean reports on quite a few librarians and library-saving volunteers and she moved me to tears.
Library copy of course