Let me tell you that so many people I know loved The Library Book by Susan Orlean. It’s probably because I work in a library and know so many librarians. I enjoyed learning about the history of the Los Angeles Public Library, I enjoyed reading about the fire that happened at the main branch in 1986 (the same day as Chernobyl, so while it should have made the evening news, it didn’t), and Orlean tells her intertwining stories well.
If you are a book person, read The Library Book.
How to Read Novels Like a Professor gives you the tools to better analyze a novel: things like voice and chapter structure and ideas and beginnings and endings. But the thesis of the book is something near and dear to my heart: that you, as a reader, when you engage with a book, you make it better. These are the tools that Foster is giving you to better, more wholly engage with a work of fiction.
This is obviously near and dear to my heart – I write these reviews because they make me a better reader. What was that book about? Do I agree with it? Did I like the characters, and does that matter? Was the language any good? Reflecting on those things and more means I engage with the books I read (even the non-fiction) more deeply and enjoy reading even more than I already do. Caring about things like structure and sentences makes a difference. Knowing how to analyze a story makes a difference.
What’s it about?
Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is about a secret society that is trying to solve an algorithm without a computer. What happens when you bring a computer to bear on the problem? In fact, given that this story takes place in San Francisco and near Silicon Valley, what happens when you let Google’s geniuses and computing power at the problem? Well, this book tries to answer that, all while commenting on life in the SF Bay Area.
Why should you read it?
It’s not a great book. I read it for book club; the more we tried to analyze it, the more we realized its flaws. It’s not Great Literature, but it did manage to keep the mystery going long enough to be entertaining. Not to mention, it did a decent job of having fun with Silicon Valley stereotypes. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you want.