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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 m
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
In this irresistible collection of adventures far and near, Orlean conducts a tour of the world via its subcultures, from the heart of the African music scene in Paris to the World Taxidermy Championships in Springfield, Illinois—and even into her own apartment, where she imagines a very famous houseguest taking advantage of her hospitality.
With Orlean as guide, lucky readers partake in all manner of armchair activity. They will climb Mt. Fuji and experience a hike most intrepid Japanese have never attempted; play ball with Cuba’s Little Leaguers, promising young athletes born in a country where baseball and politics are inextricably intertwined; trawl Icelandic waters with Keiko, everyone’s favorite whale as he tries to make it on his own; stay awhile in Midland, Texas, hometown of George W. Bush, a place where oil time is the only time that matters; explore the halls of a New York City school so troubled it’s known as “Horror High”; and stalk caged tigers in Jackson, New Jersey, a suburban town with one of the highest concentrations of tigers per square mile anywhere in the world.
Vivid, humorous, unconventional, and incomparably entertaining, Susan Orlean’s writings for The New Yorker have delighted readers for over a decade. My Kind of Place is an inimitable treat by one of America’s premier literary journalists.
Acclaimed New Yorker writer Susan Orlean brings her wry sensibility, exuberant voice, and peculiar curiosities to a fascinating range of subjects—from the well known (Bill Blass) to the unknown (a typical ten-year-old boy) to the formerly known (the 1960s girl group the Shaggs).
Passionate people. Famous people. Short people. And one championship show dog named Biff, who from a certain angle looks a lot like Bill Clinton. Orlean transports us into the lives of eccentric and extraordinary characters—like Cristina Sánchez, the eponymous bullfighter, the first female matador of Spain—and writes with such insight and candor that readers will feel as if they’ve met each and every one of them.
The result is a luminous and joyful tour of the human condition as seen through the eyes of the writer heralded by the Chicago Tribune as a “journalist dynamo.”
In A Gentle Reign, Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, lends her wry, exuberant voice to the unforgettable portrait of an ordinary man thrown into an extraordinary circumstance, and follows closely as the newly-crowned supreme ruler navigates his life as an unlikely king.
A Gentle Reign was originally published in The New Yorker, December 12, 1988.
Cover design by Adil Dara.
In her classic 1992 Esquire cover story, The American Man at Age Ten, bestselling author Susan Orlean takes readers inside the mind of an ordinary 10-year-old boy and attempts to see the world the way he sees it: short on girls but full of pizza, candy, and Nintendo—and shot through with the fleeting magic of childhood.
The American Man at Age Ten was originally published in Esquire, December 1992.
Cover design by Adil Dara.
¿Por qué nos gustan tanto los sábados por la noche? Antes de convertirse en la exitosa escritora de El ladrón de orquídeas y La biblioteca en llamas, Susan Orlean se hizo esa misma pregunta. Así que se embarcó en un viaje a través de Estados Unidos que la llevó a conocer y compartir su fin de semana con lo más variado del territorio americano: desde adolescentes adinerados en Los Ángeles a indigentes en Nueva York, bailarines de polka en Maryland o universitarias de Boston. Un mosaico de voces para definir esa noche de la semana en la que anteponemos lo que nos apetece a lo que deberíamos hacer.
En Sábado noche, Susan Orlean despliega una vez más su capacidad para narrar la realidad con excepcional magnetismo. El resultado es un retrato cautivador de las personas, lugares y costumbres de los Estados Unidos de las últimas décadas.
La historia de cualquier incendio es la historia de un olvido, por eso casi nadie recuerda lo que ocurrió el 29 de abril de 1986. Aquel día la Biblioteca Pública de Los Ángeles amaneció consumida por el fuego, cuatrocientos mil libros se convirtieron en cenizas y otros setecientos mil quedaron irremediablemente dañados. Siete horas ardieron las estanterías y las mesas y los ficheros, pero ningún periódico cubrió la noticia porque al otro lado del mundo, entre los bosques densos de la Unión Soviética, ocurría el mayor accidente nuclear hasta la fecha: Chernóbil.
¿Quién querría quemar una biblioteca? ¿Por qué? Susan Orlean se hizo esas dos preguntas y al poco tiempo entendió que el fuego sería apenas un rastro, una línea punteada sobre la que dibujar su personalísima visión del conocimiento y de las personas que creen en él. La biblioteca en llamas es un homenaje a la lectura y el relato de una periodista obsesionada por encontrar al culpable de un crimen contra la memoria. Una investigación que se extendió más de una década y que a cambio nos revela personajes desopilantes, inverosímiles y tiernos.
Maybe you're cooking everything because your collie has colitis or your Akita has a wheat allergy or your older dog just isn't thriving on commercial kibble. Maybe you're mixing up the occasional biscuit or treat to help your best fur-bearing friend over that I-just-ate-a-tennis- ball-and-don't-feel-so-good episode. Whatever the reason, the recipes in this book (which have been approved by dog trainer and nutritional consultant Stacy Alldredge) will satisfy the most discerning doggie palate. Many of them, in fact, can be shared with a favorite human (though preferably not from the same dish).
Illustrated with more than 50 endearing black-and-white photographs of Cooper and friends by Cami Johnson, and liberally seasoned with stories, quotes, and nutrition tips, Throw Me a Bone makes a dog's dinner something to look forward to.