Through the Reading Glasses, June 2021

By Janet Moore

Drat, I have two confessions to make, and each involves not reading a book. In the first case, I gave up quickly since it was too scary; in the second case, I stubbornly refused a book that everyone else said was such a wonderful read. Old English teachers are like that sometimes, thinking they know better, but eventually …

Well, I didn’t know better at all. In 2018 Susan Orlean, of The Orchid Thief fame, published The Library Book. Ostensibly, it outlines the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library, but in the meantime, she gives us not only the complete history of the Library (a word that must always be capitalized, right?) and the librarians, but also brief essays on books. 

Of course, what could be more natural?  But Orlean’s book has been chosen for the June read of the book group that meets at the Bachelder Library in East Andover on Thursday, June 24, at 7 PM, so there must be more.

The Library Book is about family, as Orleans begins with her own thrice-weekly visits with her mother to the local library, where she is allowed to roam free even at age four, and continues book-finding as she brings her own child to the LA Library to interview a librarian. Her curiosity is triggered when she discovers there had been a fire in 1986 and that it took six years to put the Library back together again. 

City government, Hollywood celebrities, aerospace corporations (a big shout out to McDonnell-Douglas for its freezing and drying operations), and thousands of volunteers contributed in the effort to rebuild this necessary institution. Family includes the librarians, past and present, glorious and otherwise, who have slowly pushed the extension of a reading room into today’s version of community space. 

The “teen-scape,” literacy classes, social services, technology centers and access to information of all kinds, and books for the sole pleasure of falling into a good story – all of this is what makes the Los Angeles Public Library a welcoming and worthwhile institution. Want more, and there’s tons more, pick up a copy at either Library in town and join us on Thursday, June 24 to talk about the wonderful world of books.

The scary story was not a tale of horror in the traditional sense but merely another in the Mitch Rapp series, authored first by Vince Flynn and then continued by Kyle Mills after Flynn’s death. 

Rapp is a CIA counterterrorist agent, completely irreverent of superiors but loyal to the core to CIA director Irene Kennedy and his own band of merry men. I’ve been following his mostly plausible exploits since I started listening to books in the car, as they were just the type of adventures to keep me driving on the edge of my seat while fighting the 4 PM sleepies on the way home from work.  

Most of Rapp’s exploits take place in the Middle East, but in this book, Total Power, the action begins at home with a cyberterrorist attack that takes out the entire US grid. Whoa! It’s going to take who-knows-how-long to catch the hacker, who seems to be the only person who can undo his work. 

Imagine the consequences – and that’s where I stopped, right away.  I just don’t need this kind of scare right now, but I can guarantee it’ll be a wild ride for you!