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 false alarm. As one fireman recounted later, "Once that first stack got going, it was Goodbye, Charlie." The fire was disastrous: It reached 2,000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 more. Investigators descended on the scene, but over thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library - and if so, who?
Weaving her life-long love of books and reading with the fascinating history of libraries and the sometimes-eccentric characters who run them, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean presents a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling story as only she can. With her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, she investigates the legendary Los Angeles Public Library fire to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives. To truly understand what happens behind the stacks, Orlean visits the different departments of the LAPL, encountering an engaging cast of employees and patrons and experiencing alongside them the victories and struggles they face in today's climate. She also delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from a metropolitan charitable initiative to a cornerstone of national identity. She reflects on her childhood experiences in libraries; studies arson and the long history of library fires; attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; and she re-examines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the library over thirty years ago. Along the way, she reveals how these buildings provide much more than just books - and that they are needed now more than ever.
Book lovers, rejoice! In this love letter to all things bookish, Jane Mount brings literary people, places, and things to life through her signature and vibrant illustrations. Readers will:
* Tour the world's most beautiful bookstores
* Test their knowledge of the written word with quizzes
* Find their next great read in lovingly curated stacks of books
* Sample the most famous fictional meals
* Peek inside the workspaces of their favorite authors
A source of endless inspiration, literary facts and recommendations, and pure bookish joy, Bibliophile is sure to enchant book clubbers, English majors, poetry devotees, inspiring writers, and any and all who identify as bookworms.
A Gen-X librarian's laugh-out-loud funny, deeply moving collection of love letters and break-up notes to the books in her life.
Librarians spend their lives weeding. Not weeds, but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the ones that patrons no longer check out, and they put back the ones they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties -- everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to Just Kids and Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury, as well as her break-ups with The Giving Tree and Dear John. Her notes to The Goldfinch and The Time Traveler's Wife feel like classics. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from feminism to health to poverty to childhood aspirations. Hilarious, compassionate, and wise, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the consummate book-lover's book.
Why are books so very powerful? What do the books we've read over our lives - our own personal libraries - make of us? What does the unraveling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us?
The stories in Ali Smith's new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make.
Created for map lovers by map lovers, this rich book explores the intriguing stories behind maps across history and illuminates how the art of cartography thrives today. In this visually stunning book, award-winning journalists Betsy Mason and Greg Miller--authors of the National Geographic cartography blog "All Over the Map"--explore the intriguing stories behind maps from a wide variety of cultures, civilizations, and time periods. Based on interviews with scores of leading cartographers, curators, historians, and scholars, this is a remarkable selection of fascinating and unusual maps.This diverse compendium includes ancient maps of dragon-filled seas, elaborate graphics picturing unseen concepts and forces from inside Earth to outer space, devious maps created by spies, and maps from pop culture such as the schematics to the Death Star and a map of Westeros from Game of Thrones.
Drawing on unexplored archives, thousands of unpublished letters, and dozens of interviews, Alec Nevala-Lee offers a riveting portrait of this circle of authors, their work, and their tumultuous private lives. With unprecedented scope, drama, and detail, Astounding describes how fan culture was born in the depths of the Great Depression; follows these four friends and rivals through World War II and the dawn of the atomic era.
For the first time, it reveals the startling extent of Campbell's influence on the ideas that evolved into Scientology, which prompted Asimov to observe: "I knew Campbell and I knew Hubbard, and no movement can have two Messiahs." It looks unsparingly at the tragic final act that estranged the others from Campbell, bringing the golden age of science fiction to a close, and it illuminates how their complicated legacy continues to shape the imaginations of millions and our vision of the future itself.
To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of "Ocean's Eleven."
In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that had fallen into obscurity. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the incredible story of how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu, later became one of the world's greatest and most brazen smugglers.
In 2012, thousands of Al Qaeda militants from northwest Africa seized control of most of Mali, including Timbuktu. They imposed Sharia law, chopped off the hands of accused thieves, stoned to death unmarried couples, and threatened to destroy the great manuscripts. As the militants tightened their control over Timbuktu, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali.
Whether curled up on a sofa with a good mystery, lounging by the pool with a steamy romance, or brooding over a classic novel, Americans love to read. Despite the distractions of modern living, nothing quite satisfies many individuals more than a really good book. And regardless of how one accesses that book - through a tablet, a smart phone, or a good, old-fashioned hardcover - those choices have been tallied for decades.
In Bestseller: A Century of America's Favorite Books, Robert McParland looks at the reading tastes of a nation - from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day. Through extensive research, McParland provides context for the literature that appealed to the masses, from low-brow potboilers like Forever Amber to Pulitzer-Prize winners such as To Kill a Mockingbird.
Spanning over 250 years of history, Black Ink traces black literature in America from Frederick Douglass to Ta-Nehisi Coates in this masterful collection of twenty-five illustrious and moving essays on the power of the written word.
Throughout American history black people are the only group of people to have been forbidden by law to learn to read. This unique collection seeks to shed light on that injustice and subjugation, as well as the hard-won literary progress made, putting some of America's most cherished voices in a conversation in one magnificent volume that presents reading as an act of resistance.
Organized into three sections, the Peril, the Power, and Pleasure, and with an array of contributors both classic and contemporary, Black Ink presents the brilliant diversity of black thought in America while solidifying the importance of these writers within the greater context of the American literary tradition. At times haunting and other times profoundly humorous, this unprecedented anthology guides you through the remarkable experiences of some of America's greatest writers and their lifelong pursuits of literacy and literature.
While the Nazi party was being condemned by much of the world for burning books, they were already hard at work perpetrating an even greater literary crime. Through extensive new research that included records saved by the Monuments Men themselves - Anders Rydell tells the untold story of Nazi book theft, as he himself joins the effort to return the stolen books. When the Nazi soldiers ransacked Europe's libraries and bookshops, large and small, the books they stole were not burned. Instead, the Nazis began to compile a library of their own that they could use to wage an intellectual war on literature and history.
In this secret war, the libraries of Jews, Communists, Liberal politicians, LGBT activists, Catholics, Freemasons, and many other opposition groups were appropriated for Nazi research, and used as an intellectual weapon against their owners. But when the war was over, most of the books were never returned. Instead many found their way into the public library system, where they remain to this day.
Now, Rydell finds himself entrusted with one of these stolen volumes, setting out to return it to its rightful owner. It was passed to him by the small team of heroic librarians who have begun the monumental task of combing through Berlin's public libraries to identify the looted books and reunite them with the families of their original owners. For those who lost relatives in the Holocaust, these books are often the only remaining possession of their relatives they have ever held. And as Rydell travels to return the volume he was given, he shows just how much a single book can mean to those who own it.
In Bookends, Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon offers a compilation of pieces about literature - age-old classics as well as his own - that presents a unique look into his literary origins and influences, the books that shaped his taste and formed his ideas about writing and reading. Chabon asks why anyone would write an introduction, or for that matter, read one. His own daughter Rose prefers to skip them. Chabon's answer is simple and simultaneously profound: "a hope of bringing pleasure for the reader."
Catering to lovers of the well-written word and the well-mixed drink, Cocktail Noir is a lively look at the intertwining of alcohol and the underworld -- represented by authors of crime both true and fictional and their glamorously disreputable characters, as well as by real life gangsters who built Prohibition-era empires on bootlegged booze. It celebrates the potent potables they imbibed and the watering holes they frequented, including some bars that continue to provide a second home for crime writers. Highlighting the favorite drinks of Noir scribes, the book includes recipes for cocktails such as the Gimlet described in Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye, the Mojito Mulatta T.J. English drank while writing Havana Nocturne and the Dirty Martini favored by mob chronicler Christian Cippolini.
For anyone who'd rather be reading than doing just about anything else, this book is the ultimate must-have. In this visual ode to all things bookish, readers will get lost in page after page of beautiful contemporary art, photography, and illustrations depicting the pleasures of books. Artwork from the likes of Jane Mount, Lisa Congdon, Julia Rothman, and Sophie Blackall is interwoven with text from essayist Maura Kelly, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, and award-winning author and independent bookstore owner Ann Patchett. Rounded out with poems, quotations, and aphorisms celebrating the joys of reading, this lovingly curated compendium is a love letter to all things literary, and the perfect gift for bookworms everywhere.
How do you use your local library? Does it arrive at your door on the back of an elephant? Can it float down the river to you? Or does it occupy a phone booth by the side of the road? Public libraries are a cornerstone of modern civilization, yet like the books in them, libraries face an uncertain future in an increasingly digital world. Undaunted, librarians around the globe are thinking up astonishing ways of reaching those in reading need, whether by bike in Chicago, boat in Laos, or donkey in Colombia. Improbable Libraries showcases a wide range of unforgettable, never-before-seen images and interviews with librarians who are overcoming geographic, economic, and political difficulties to bring the written word to an eager audience. Alex Johnson charts the changing face of library architecture, as temporary pop-ups rub shoulders with monumental brick-and-mortar structures, and many libraries expand their mission to function as true community centers.
A library is not just a collection of books, but also the buildings that house them. As varied and inventive as the volumes they hold, such buildings can be much more than the dusty, dark wooden shelves found in mystery stories or the catacombs of stacks in the basements of academia. From the great dome of the Library of Congress, to the white fa?ade of the Sein?joki Library in Finland, to the ancient ruins of the library of Pergamum in modern Turkey, the architecture of a library is a symbol of its time as well as of its builders' wealth, culture, and learning.
Fire up your literary fancies and nibble your way through delicate sweets and savories with?A Literary Tea Party, which brings food from classic books to life with a teatime twist. Featuring fifty-five perfectly portioned recipes for an afternoon getaway, including custom homemade tea blends and beverages, you will have everything you need to plan an elaborate tea party.
Martin is written for parents, grandparents, and teachers unfamiliar with the bewildering array of award and recommended reading lists. This book is a long overdue composite of all the major booklists. It brings together over 100 of the most influential book awards and reading lists from leading magazines, newspapers, reference books, schools, libraries, parenting organizations, and professional groups from across the country. The Mother of All Booklists is to reading books what the website Rotten Tomatoes is to watching movies - the ultimate, one-stop, synthesizing resource for finding out what is best. Mother is not the opinion of one book critic, but the aggregate opinion of an army of critics.
A heavily illustrated four-color history of mapmaking across centuries--a must-read for history buffs and armchair travelers.
Theater of the World offers a fascinating history of mapmaking, using the visual representation of the world through time to tell a new story about world history and the men who made it.
Thomas Reinertsen Berg takes us all the way from the mysterious symbols of the Stone Age to Google Earth, exploring how the ability to envision what the world looked like developed hand in hand with worldwide exploration.
Along the way, we meet visionary geographers and heroic explorers along with other unknown heroes of the map-making world, both ancient and modern. And the stunning visual material allows us to witness the extraordinary breadth of this history with our own eye
In this exuberant literary road trip, Bass takes on the roll of a roving wordsmith caterer, traveling the country to visit the writers who have inspired him and thanking them by preparing them home-cooked meals: "The least I could do was feed them in return."
Over the course of three years, Bass--with writing student mentees in tow--showed up at the doors of Peter Matthiessen, John Berger, and Barry Lopez, among others. The conversation inevitably flowed through a series of wonderful, sincere encounters, as with Matthiessen, battling leukemia, with whom Bass and aspiring writer Erin discussed the differences between writing fiction and nonfiction "while eating a soup of fresh-dug parsnips (tarragon, butter, garlic, vermouth)." Bass ruminates on what makes good writing and great writers ("how hard it is to keep that edge. To view the world always like a hawk") while obsessing over his multicourse gourmet feasts with nearly the same devotion to detail ("The kitchen is a whirlwind of aromas: mussels, scallops, and a sharp bite of ginger" in a paella that he prepared for Lorrie Moore). The camaraderie of like-minded literary folk is infectious, and Bass's account of hauling the meat of an elk he had shot in Montana--now thawing and bleeding through its packaging--through Heathrow airport to David Sedaris's quaint British cottage is a miniature classic. This is a rich bounty of a book. (Publisher's Weekly)
In an age defined by hyper-connectivity and constant stimulation, Francine Prose makes a compelling case for the solitary act of reading and the great enjoyment it brings. Inspiring and illuminating, What to Read and Why includes selections culled from Prose's previous essays, reviews, and introductions, combined with new, never-before-published pieces that focus on her favorite works of fiction and nonfiction, on works by masters of the short story, and even on books by photographers like Diane Arbus.
Prose considers why the works of literary masters such as Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Jane Austen have endured, and shares intriguing insights about modern authors whose words stimulate our minds and enlarge our lives, including Karl Ove Knausgaard, Jennifer Egan, and Mohsin Hamid.?
Written with her sharp critical analysis, wit, and enthusiasm, What to Read and Why is a celebration of literature that will give readers a new appreciation for the power and beauty of the written word.