THE LIBRARY BOOK by SUSAN ORLEAN

The Library Book

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?

Susan Orlean is an exceptional writer and her love for the written word and libraries is all over this work.

As she digs into the fire at the LAPL, this becomes a book about libraries and the people who inhabit them. The librarians and all of the ins and outs and backrooms and quirky people who make up the library. What she finds is something that we all have found at one time or another, a second home. A place of community, a place that levels the playing field for those who don’t have the luxury of buying a lot of books or resource material.

I often joke I would love to be locked in a library and after reading Susan’s book, I really want to do that! I associate the library with my childhood, my first library card, the smell, all the adventures I took in those books.

Librarians are really lucky!

I loved this book and I hope you do as well.

Netgalley/ Simon and Schuster October 16, 2018

RISING OUT OF HATRED THE AWAKENING IF A FORMER WHITE NATIONALIST BY ELI SASLOW

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist

Eli Saslow is an author and a staff writer for The Washington Post, where he travels the country to write in-depth stories about the impact of major national issues on individual lives. He won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for a series of stories about the rise of food stamps and hunger in the United States. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing in 2013, 2016 and 2017. 

I had read some of Saslow’s interviews on this before. This is more in-depth and while it made me uncomfortable I was curious.

How does the heir apparent to the KKK, Derek Black, godson of David Duke and son of Don Black, suddenly change his name and his back on the entire organization?

Well, it didn’t happen overnight. Derek is an intelligent man. Yes, he started a web page for White Children when he was a child, he was indoctrinated into this belief system by his father and his godfather. However he didn’t just take their word on white supremacy, he traveled, he studied and he knew more about history than most history majors.

So when he made the choice to attend a liberal arts college in Florida he tried to stay under the radar. And that worked for a time. It was there that he became friends with immigrants, Jews and started questioning what he had been taught.

The college could have ostracized him, kicked him out, made him quit. But the students didn’t do that. They invited him to Shabbat. They entered into a discourse that would eventually lead to Black taking back everything he had preached and going off grid.

The White Nationalists were given a prize with Trump. They saw someone who said things they wanted to hear. The only thing they clashed on was Israel. Trump himself is a rabble-rouser and these guys took that as a sign to be more and more violent and confrontational.

As uncomfortable as most of the book made me, I am better for having read it.

Netgalley/Doubleday September 18, 2018

BOOM TOWN by SAM ANDERSON

Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-class Metropolis

Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-class Metropolis

A lively and introspective look into Oklahoma City, where colorful city officials business leaders, artists, and sports fans have turned an unassuming Southwestern city into a thriving metropolis with a dazzling basketball team.

Sam Anderson–award-winning critic and journalist–makes his long-awaited debut with a stunning, insightful, and raucous portrait of Oklahoma City, an iconoclastic outpost in America’s heartland.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I’ve lived in Nichols Hills since Hurricane Katrina spit us out of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. The entire state has been a mystery to me.

I had never heard of Sam Anderson, sorry Sam, but I won’t forget him! This was the best unvarnished look at who makes the rules here and what the powers that be have envisioned for the city.  Oklahoma City is a huge sprawling area of tiny pockets of old-established neighborhoods. While there have been huge improvements to downtown OKC, beyond the city center the homeless linger under bridges and overpasses and oil and gas rules. Unemployment is rampant unless you are an oil field worker and even then you may only have a job until it’s bonus time.

From the Land Run to Aubrey Mclendon’s spectacular exit from his oil and gas woes to the Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne, whose house I have been in and it is just as weird and wacko as Sam will tell you about.

I laughed so hard all the way through this book. Sam has captured the city perfectly as well as all of its most colorful residents.

Very Well Done and I look forward to more from this author!

Netgalley/August 21st 2018 by Crown

 

A REALLY GOOD MIX THIS WEEK

From a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, the powerful story of how a prominent white supremacist changed his heart and mind

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen comes a new explosive, compelling thriller.

In the epic tradition of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Jonathan Maberry, a chilling new masterwork of small-town evil, centuries-old traditions, and newly risen terror…

This is what we are reading here at Books,Books and More Books this week. Kids are back in school and it’s back to business! Have you read any of these yet? If so, what did you think?

xx Patricia

Chariot on the Mountain by Jack Ford

Chariot on the Mountain

Once old Mastuh be dead, you be workin’ in the fields just like the rest of ’em. That day comin’ soon.” 

Based on little-known true events and brought vividly to life by Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist Jack Ford, here is an astonishing account of a time when the traditions of the Old South still thrived, a treacherous journey toward freedom–and a testament to determination, friendship, and courage. 

Kitty’s story takes place a about 20 years before the war between the states. Kitty was a real person and this story is full of historical information with some fictional conversations that may have taken place. The facts are documented very well and Mr. Ford has done a masterful job of weaving them into a believable story.

Set in Virginia, Kitty is the daughter of her master and a slave woman. She has been raised in the house, educated and allowed to have a relationship and children.

But what is going to happen when her master dies? Will his widow sell them just to not have to face her husband’s proof of infidelity?

Mary Maddox was a wonderful lady. She decides to honor her husband’s last wish which was to free Kitty and her children.
To do so she must work with the underground railroad and take Kitty and her children to freedom in Pennsylvania. Along the way the two women develop a relationship based on trust, kindness and love.

But we have to have a bad guy and that guy was the master’s own evil nephew who has no plans to let Kitty remain a free woman when she would fetch a nice price to help clear his many debts.

No sooner is Kitty a free woman than another man of color sells her out and she is beaten and tossed in a wagon and taken back home. But dear nephew has no idea what a few women on a mission can accomplish.

This book was hard to read in some parts, but true. Miraculous things happen when women get together and refuse to back down. The fact that this is some well documented history makes the story even better.  I won’t spoil any of it for you though. It is a wonderful story and I am richer for having read it!

Netgalley/Kensington July 31, 2018

FUN FACTS WITH THE CONSTITUTION

WE are gearing up for the July 4th celebrations tomorrow and I’m feeling a bit ambivalent about the entire thing.

I would love to know how many people have actually read the Bill of Rights, The Constitution or our Declaration of Independence. Have you?

Now I’m going back to reading Boom Town!

xx Patricia

 

INDIANAPOLIS by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic

Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man

A human drama unlike any other: the riveting and definitive full story of the worst sea disaster in United States naval history.

Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, days after delivering the components of the atomic bomb from California to the Pacific Islands in the most highly classified naval mission of the war, USS Indianapolis is sailing alone in the center of the Philippine Sea when she is struck by two Japanese torpedoes. The ship is instantly transformed into a fiery cauldron and sinks within minutes. Some 300 men go down with the ship. Nearly 900 make it into the water alive. For the next five nights and four days, almost three hundred miles from the nearest land, the men battle injuries, sharks, dehydration, insanity, and eventually each other. Only 316 will survive.

Coming from these two authors, I knew this was going to be a good book. And it was. I don’t usually do Military history. But something about this story pulled at me.

A true account of what happened to the ship and crew of the USS Indianapolis. After delivering precious cargo that would effectively end the war with Japan, she has limped on a course to complete the repairs that were not finished before they were pulled for a special top-secret mission. But they never made it. Torpedoed by the enemy and sank.

A story of bravery, of teen-aged boys stepping up when needed. Of the fight to survive for those left alive in the dark water surrounded by deadly oil slicks and sharks. I am not going to lie, it was hard to read some of this but then these young men sacrificed their lives and as we learn more about each one we become invested in their survival.

A story of how a crew and an enemy came forward to save their Captain from an unjust court-martial.

Any military fans will love this in-depth look at our military history. I know I will never forget this one.

Netgalley/ Simon and Schuster  July 10, 2018