libraries

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Erika Swyler, a graduate of New York University, is a writer and playwright whose work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies.  She was born and raised on Long Island’s North Shore.  The Book of Speculation is her first novel.


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

I recently received a book which opened the window on a frightening and horrific story.  Freedom Libraries: The Untold Story of Libraries for African Americans in the South by Mike Selby.  Mike “is a professional librarian.  He received his MLS from the University of Alabama, which is where he first unearthed the story of the Freedom Libraries.  He has published over nine hundred articles about libraries, reading, and print culture—much of it covering libraries during the Civil Rights Movement” (Jacket).  The book recounts a number of anecdotes and the people who suffered and risked their lives to bring books to children.


I could easily name five or six novels that have brought me to tears at the end of my reading.  Today, I am telling a story that drove me to tears from the first two or three paragraphs.  The Library Book by Susan Orlean has done just that.  This review will be different than most.

Let’s begin.  “On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library.  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 four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. 

The Central Library [in downtown Los Angeles] was opened in 1926.  As Susan writes, “My family was big on the library.  We were very much a reading family, but we were a borrow-a-book-from-the-library family more than a bookshelves-full-of-books-family.  My parents valued books, but they grew up in the Depression, aware of the quicksilver nature of money, and they learned the hard way that you shouldn’t buy what you could borrow. […] // When I headed to college, one of the  

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

A few years ago, I came by three interesting books about libraries.  In the third, Matthew Battles wrote Library: An Unquiet History.  The depth, breath, and detail of this history appeals to most bibliophiles.

 

 

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

In amongst all the exciting and suspenseful novels I have reviewed, I came upon a funny, interesting little book Ex Libris” Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman.  This slim volume of a mere 162 pages is full of humor and wisdom.  According to the cover, “Ex Libris recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language.”  Anne is the editor of The American Scholar.  She has won a National Book Critics Circle Award and has written for numerous magazines.  She now resides with her family in western Massachusetts.

 


Exhaustive tour through the libraries in the Ancient world from Gilgamesh to the Romans


A teen shoplifter finds herself before a judge and becomes friends with her library mentor.

 


Likely Stories: The Book Lovers' Anthology

Jun 18, 2015
Jim McKeown

A compendium of writing about books, reading, readers, and libraries.