"Once that first stack got going, it was 'Goodbye, Charlie,' " said a firefighter recounting the Los Angeles Public Library fire that started the morning of April 29, 1986.
The conflagration was disastrous, reaching 2,000 degrees and burning for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 more. The fire was investigated, but today the mystery remains: Did someone intentionally set fire to the library -- and if so, who?
In "The Library Book," award-winning New Yorker reporter Susan Orlean chronicles the Los Angeles Public Library fire and its aftermath to showcase the crucial role libraries play. She also studies arson, attempts to burn a copy of a book and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the actor long suspected of setting the fire.
Whether you are a fan of libraries or true crime, do yourself a favor and read this book. Share your thoughts on the arsonist's identity (if you believe the fire was deliberately set), then attend the July 17 Northwest Passages book-discussion group meeting that will focus on this title.
The group meets at 10:30 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at Northwest Library, 2280 Hard Road. In addition to July 17, the group plans summer get-togethers June 19 to consider Anna Burns' "Milkman" and Aug. 21 to discuss M.T. Anderson's "Feed."
Also starting at 10:30 a.m., but on the last Thursday of the month, are the meetings of the Thursday Mornings book group at Old Worthington Library, 820 High St. Its summer selections include "Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo Mbue on June 27, "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck on July 25 and "Barracoon" by Zora Neale Hurston on Aug. 22.
Also held at Old Worthington Library the first Wednesdays of the month are meetings of the Speaking Volumes book-discussion group; all start at 7:30 p.m.
This summer, participants will gather June 5 to discuss Ayobami Adobaye's "Stay with Me." "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng is the focus of the July 10 meeting, and Alice Hoffman's "The Rules of Magic" will be considered on Aug. 7.
Hillary Kline is a communications specialist for Worthington Libraries.