Page 2 October 10, 2019
Reviewed by Kim Harris, Library
Assistant, El Segundo Middle School
The Library Book by Susan Orlean is about
the April 29, 1986 fire at the Los Angeles
Central Library that left the whole library
community in shock. At first the library patrons
and staff thought that it was just a regular
smoke alarm going off, but then realized that
there was an actual fire in the library. The fire
reached 2,000 degrees and burned for more
than seven hours. When the fire was finally
extinguished, it consumed 400,000 books and
damaged seven 700,000 more. Even with fire
and police investigators examining the evidence,
no one was ever convicted of the crime. The
Library Book examines not only who might
have set the fire, but also the history of the
L.A. Central Library.
I really enjoyed the book because not only
was it a mystery, but I also learned about the
history of the library and libraries across the
country and around the world. Orlean describes
the library as a cornerstone of national identity
and brings each department to life by interviewing
various staff members and recounting their
stories. I especially liked learning about the
history of the Central Library and how it was
built. To me, it is one of the most beautiful
buildings downtown and it is always an adventure
to go explore the library. Many do not
realize that the Los Angeles Central Library
houses not only books, audio books, movies
and music, but also unique collections such
as sheet music for orchestras as well as maps
from all over California and the world. The
library is not just about books. It also has an
extensive genealogy collection and is used by
many for research. When the fire occurred,
many articles were lost or damaged and never
The person whom the investigators thought
was the culprit was Harry Peak, an actor who
was loved by everyone but trusted by no one.
Unfortunately, Harry died and so it was never
proven or disproven that he was the arsonist.
As someone who really enjoys reading and
going to the library, I was fascinated by all
of the research that was done for this book.
Orlean narrates from both her own perspective
of libraries and from the facts. Each chapter
opens with descriptions of books and their call
numbers that correlate with the chapter’s content.
I really enjoyed reading about all of the head
librarians and the history of the Los Angeles
Central Library. It made me appreciate my own
library even more! Libraries are beloved institutions
and provide much more than just books,
movies and music. They were and remain an
essential part of the heart, mind and soul of our
country. I hope everyone gets a chance to read
this great book and learn a little about the history
of the library and of Los Angeles itself! •
Parasite is an Arthouse Masterpiece
shop. Unexpectedly, a friend presents Ki-woo
with an opportunity to work as an interim
English tutor for the daughter of the very affluent
Park family. Hesitant at first – Ki-woo
is unsure if his street smarts will translate to
academic smarts – he eventually agrees to meet
with the family. Almost immediately, he wins
over the affection of the naive Mrs. Park (Cho
Yeo Jeong), who welcomes Ki-woo into their
No good can come when gullibility meets
greed, as Ki-woo’s family sees his employment
as an opportunity to score for themselves. What
follows is a comedic and thrilling unraveling –
with Ocean’s 11-style forethought and mechanics
– that makes every moment feel like a whiteknuckle
thrill ride. Bong Joon Ho captures societal
issues and human crises in pitch black tones,
exposing them in a way that is both shocking and
thought-provoking. It’s a fantastic example of a
perfect film, from script to screen and beyond.
“If you make a plan, life never turns out that
way,” Ki-taek tells Ki-woo during one of the
Kim family’s lowest points. Brutally honest
life advice (that I agree, should be taught to
the young), this is also the perfect sentiment
to summarize Parasite: expect the unexpected.
Original and authentic arthouse films as good
as Parasite don’t come around often and we
are lucky to witness its big-screen release. •
By Morgan Rojas for cinemacy.com
I didn’t know it was possible to hold your
breath for two hours… but after seeing Parasite,
let me tell you, it is. South Korean director Bong
Joon Ho’s highly anticipated thriller has been
hot on the lips of many cinephiles for most of
2019. The five-minute standing ovation after
its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival
concurred that its hype is fully deserved.
Thematically darker that Okja and more realistically
unnerving than Snowpiercer, Parasite, in
theaters this Friday, is a fantastically satirical
and biting look at the economic divide and a
social commentary on privilege that, in my
opinion, is the best film of the year.
Living literally below the poverty line in
an underground basement apartment, the Kim
family – Ki-taek (Song Kang Ho), his wife,
Chung-sook (Chang Hyae Jin), their smart
(and smart aleck) daughter Ki-jung (Park So
Dam), and college-age son, Ki-woo (Choi
Woo Shik) – struggle to make ends meet, as
evident by their desperation when they’re no
longer able to freeload off of their neighbor’s
free WiFi. The Kims are used to taking the
path of least resistance, barely getting by with
contract work folding pizza boxes for a local
Check It Out
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Parasite, Courtesy of Neon
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
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