JAY Many times I’ve stood over a trash can holding a book with a torn cover and a broken binding, and I have hovered there dangling the book and finally I have let the trash can lid snapshot. And I’ve walked away with the goddamn book, a battered, dog-eared, wounded soldier that has been spared to live another day.
PHIL Well, we have to use that dog-eared quote. Welcome to Dog-eared and Cracked, the podcast, where each host recommends a book for the other and we learn maybe a little bit more than we want to know about each other. I’m Phil.
JAY And I’m Jay.
PHIL And this week I’m kind of worried that Jay’s views on libraries are going to test the limits of our friendship. I want to call them retrograde views, but who knows? We’ll find out as we discuss my pick this week. And it’s The Library Book, by Susan Orlean.
JAY So, Phil, admittedly, I’m not even clear what retrograde means, but I’m assuming it means moving, moving backwards. And we’ll see where—we’re going to have a great discussion today about libraries, which I know a lot of listeners right now are kind of probably on the fence about.
PHIL Come on, who’s on the fence about libraries? Well, Susan Orlean, I know I know her name… you know, I did an MFA in creative non-fiction a couple of years ago. She’s really well-known in that world, mostly because of her book The Orchid Thief, which is I mean, it’s a fantastic book. And I was tempted to choose it for this episode and you should read it. But I also realize the world of creative non-fiction writers is not exactly the broader, the broader world. So Susan Orlean may not be a household name. So before we get into the book, can you tell us a bit about her? I don’t know if you knew about her before or not. And, and maybe a bit about what the book is about for our listeners.
JAY I was tempted to play a game and just say, “Yeah, I, I, I’m here with my book Dune, which I got from the library. So I’m assuming that can be considered a library book. Oh, wait, you meant THE library book. I misunderstood.” Susan Orlean. Well, she’s published stories in Rolling Stone, Esquire Vogue. In 1982, she became a staff writer for the Boston Phoenix and then later a regular contributor to the Boston Globe Sunday magazine. She had her first book published in 1990, and that was called Saturday Night, and then she moved to New York and began writing for The New Yorker magazine. She was a contributor and then became a staff writer in 1992. What I thought was interesting, and I admittedly I have not seen the movie Blue Crush, but I do know it’s about a number of women who are surfers in Maui. And apparently her article called Life Swell, which was published in 1998, and that was a feature on a group of young surfer girls in Maui, that was actually the basis for that film.
PHIL I did not know that. It’s an argument for keeping control of your copyright.
JAY That’s right. Well, I think she’s doing OK. I was also going to mention—she’s also a ginger as well. And Phil just, you know, only gingers can call each other ginger. In April 2019, Variety reported The Library Book is headed for television.
JAY Yeah. Paramount television production company Anonymous Content have acquired the television rights to her best seller. And the director is James Ponsoldt, who I’m not familiar with, but apparently he directed The Spectacular Now and the End of the Tour. And both he and Orlean will be executive producers for this series. Now, the story itself, it weaves back and forth between the history of the library and more specifically, the individuals who ran that library…
PHIL And to be clear, this is the Los Angeles Public Library.
JAY Right. And this story of Harry Peak, who is accused of setting fire to the Los Angeles Public Library, and that investigation. And so she weaves a couple of other stories around there. She dips into modern times about how, where the library is at today, the challenges it faces, and some really interesting stories about some of the more obscure library offerings, such as their extensive collection of maps. So, Phil, I’m going to ask the obvious question, I have a feeling I possibly know the answer, but why did you want me to read this?
PHIL It goes back to a couple of years ago, pre-pandemic, when we decided to go for a drink together and we met up in the parking lot of the library close to, close to your place. And then we were going to go to a nearby place and get a couple of beers. We met, we met at the library and I said, hold on, I have a couple of books I have to return before we go. And you said, oh, people still use the library. That’s cute.
JAY My funniest story about you in libraries is when you were promoting your book, you were doing an exposition on fermentation. And at the very end, you said you don’t have to buy my book. The library has three copies available for you,
PHIL Me than three.
JAY You’re a terrible marketer. What’s that?
PHIL More than three. Let me tell you, I got a 250 dollar cheque a couple of months ago. That’s royalties from people having borrowed the book from the library. So it’s not all terrible.
JAY Oh, I didn’t realize that. So the library pays royalties if you if someone takes out your book?
PHIL There is, there’s a programme called the Public Lending Right. And it’s designed to compensate writers for, yeah, because people are borrowing the book instead of buying it. So there is a pool of money for for writers for that.
JAY Oh well that’s great.
PHIL So, and also the other thing is I used to be the chair of the Halifax Library Board, so I have an interest in libraries. When I read The Orchid Thief last year, I was blown away by it. And I mean, I think it’s a better book than The Library Book. But, you know, because we’d had that little interaction about the library and I had a history with libraries, I figured that’s why I wanted you to to read it, to see what you thought. So, you know, I was thinking — you mentioned all the different storylines and there’s there’s a bunch of them in this book, right. There’s, like you said, the history of the L.A. Public Library, the story of Harry Peak, who is a real character. There’s the story of the fire that nearly destroyed the central library and the aftermath like, you know, hundreds of thousands of books destroyed and hundreds of thousands more rescued. And then, you know, she kind of goes through the library like, you know, department by department and builds a story of how libraries have changed over the last like 120 years. So I just wondered if was there any one of these stories that grabbed you more than than the others, or was it too much. Like, did you find it held together? And what, which of the stories did you like?
JAY Well, there’s no doubt that — like, The Library Book for me, there’s, it’s actually several stories. It’s several books. And they’re all combined. She’s done a really good job of combining each of those stories. The core story itself you mentioned was the investigation of Harry Peak. And that in itself probably would not have been a great book. And that core story she’s kind of intertwined all these other stories, and she does a great job of basically picking up on each one. I enjoyed the history part only when it came to some of the more eccentric characters like Charles Lummis. He was one of the librarians.
PHIL Is he the one who walked from Ohio when he was hired?
JAY He’s, he is. He’s the one who wore corduroy suits. He walked from Ohio to Los Angeles. He built himself out of stone a house where he entertained other luminaries from the era, quite a character. Otherwise, the history part of it was a bit of a grind because she meticulously describes each succeeding librarian in the history of the library. But where I felt the book really soared was in its description of how people used to use the library. There’s some really interesting stories, Phil, about how books would go missing. Some of them were being sold out of hotel suites by people, movie executives would send a pair of assistants down to take the books out, and what they would do because they didn’t want to have to bring them back is they would throw the titles out the window to each other. And then there’s a whole section, which I really liked. And it’s basically set in 1937. She describes what people called in to the library to ask. So this would have been basically the audio analogue version of Google. And so it’s questions like the number of radios in Los Angeles and burial customs in Hawaii. That’s just cool because it makes you realize how libraries were, and to some degree still are, depositories of knowledge. And they were the Google of their time. Some of the stuff was just ridiculous. Like modern day, there’s the character, well, she’s a real person. Lisa Ondoy, who’s tagging photos. You recall that?
JAY Historical photos. And she’s trying to organize them like, bless her heart. But sometimes the subjectivity I just thought was kind of funny how she kind of—the tags she would apply were just kind of ludicrous.
PHIL I’ve known a couple of people who had part-time jobs tagging porn. Some of their stories were pretty funny about trying to try to figure out which tags to use. In terms of particular times, one that jumped out at me was how all the books on making alcohol at home were stolen just before Prohibition. When you were talking about what libraries used to do, one of the things I found fascinating with this book was, you know, there’s certain tropes that you find in, like media stories, like I think we’re finally over this one, but for a long time, like decades, there would be stories about comics that were like “Comics aren’t just for kids anymore,” right?
JAY Mm hmm.
PHIL Like we’re talking, you know, 30 years after Art Spiegelman’s won the Pulitzer prize for Maus, people are still going, “comics aren’t just for kids anymore!” So there were a lot of stories about like, well, “the library is more than just a place for books.” Right? And the library has been more than a place for books for many decades. And I found it really interesting how some things that seem to be new now actually go back to like the late 1800’s, like, you know, lending sports equipment and stuff like that. Like you can actually borrow radon test kits from the Halifax Library, right, because we have a lot of places with with high levels of radon. And back in 2013, I went to a library conference in Toronto, and there was a keynote speaker who pissed off all the librarians because he talked about how libraries needed to become more innovative. And he talked about all this cool stuff they could consider doing. And the librarians were like, we’re already doing all that stuff.
JAY Mm hmm.
PHIL So I just thought it was interesting to see how far back that goes. Right. Like you mentioned, the maps. Do you want to talk about the map scene for a minute?
JAY She had gone to the library and—this is in modern day. She’s gone to the library because a collector of maps had recently released their collection of maps. And they’re in the process of being categorized. And one of the ways they did that is they had a young man who was autistic and he came in and that was—his love was actually maps. So he was a bit of a collector himself. But he would come in as a volunteer and he would organize and sort those maps for the library and took the most highest level of enjoyment out of it. It’s interesting, because it touches on this idea that it’s an intricate world and there is something almost for everyone in terms of — you really wouldn’t think about. You wouldn’t even think about maps. We don’t even think about maps today with GPS. No one really remembers maps at all.
PHIL One of the things that makes this book work is the characters, right? Like, we’ll talk a little more about Harry Peak, I imagine, because he’s the one we spend the most time with, even though, you know, we don’t meet him because he’s he’s died by the time the book is is written. But I found she does a great job of finding the right people and describing them in a really succinct kind of way. Like she meets someone, and her descriptions of them are really vivid, like they get — I’m going to ask if any of them jump out at you. But let me just share, like, one of my favourites, and it’s Harry Peak’s sister, Deborah.
JAY I know which one you’re going to read.
JAY Because I was thinking of that as well. That she’s small and muscular with pale blue eyes and cottony blonde hair.
JAY But here’s—I’m just going to cut you off. I don’t mean to cut you off.
PHIL No, go ahead.
JAY I’d never do that to you, but, “The day we met,” she describes this woman, “she was wearing a small white undershirt and big baggy jeans. Both articles of clothing looked like she might have borrowed them from people whose body types are very different from each other and from hers.” She has a weird way of describing people that’s almost not flattering. It’s subtle. She’s got, she describes this other woman as—this woman is Deborah Jacobs. She says, “Jacobs is small and sturdy with bouncy chestnut hair and a twinkly smile and a good laugh.” I don’t think any person and a woman, this woman in particular, really want to be described as sturdy.
PHIL Is it her job to describe them the way they want to be described, though?
JAY It’s a good question, though. I mean, but she does every character like that. A lot of characters are done like that. It’s almost like she’s trying to play with almost insulting them or not—or trying to poke fun at their seriousness. I don’t know. What do you think?
PHIL I just thought they were kind of very vivid and seemed to encapsulate something of the people of the people, like, I mean, I don’t know if it’s trying too hard, I remember back when I was in university, I wrote a feature on someone—I can’t even remember who it was, and this was like for the, you know, The Link, which is the Concordia paper. And it was probably the longest piece I’d written at that point. And I had something describing the clothes the woman was wearing. And my editor called me in and was just like, why are you describing this? I said, well, that’s what she was wearing. And she’s like, OK, but what are you trying to achieve? Like, what are you trying to get at? What are you trying to tell us about her? I thought, oh, that’s that’s interesting. Like I had you know, I wasn’t really being intentional about it. I mean, if anything, it seems like maybe Orlean is a little too cute with some of these. But I also really like them because I thought they were so concise.
JAY Yeah. And she manages to sketch out with that concise language, she managed to sketch out kind of almost more detail.
PHIL You mentioned my book. When I, my first chapter of my book was originally 10,000 words long, which was about double what it should be, because I had one character I really liked and I just, like, wrote way too much about her. So, and I was thinking, wow, like she’s so much better a writer than me. Like she captures in like a tenth of the words what, you know, it would take me so much longer to get across the sense of these people than it takes her. So I think that’s one of the things that that jumped out to me.
JAY She does a great job with kind of smaller characters, but I just found sometimes it bordered on insult.
PHIL You know, one thing I was tempted to do and I was too lazy to do was actually just map out the structure of each chapter to see to see if there was, I’m sure there was some kind of pattern to, you know, like history of the library, story of the fire story of Harry Peak, like just in terms of mapping out the structure to see how she put those things together. I agree with you that the parts on the specific history of the library and the individual librarians did for me start to drag. I wasn’t, as you know, I wasn’t as interested in them. And I guess once she had made the commitment that she was going to write about all of them, she couldn’t really skip any of them. But did you find that that, that, like, did she do a good job of bringing us, bringing those stories together? Was there anything you wanted more of?
JAY Some great stories that came out of that. I mean, and she really did kind of get into the detail. But, you know, there’s one thing I was going to ask you about, like your thoughts on. So, at one point she’s talking about the chief librarian, Wyman, and how he heard of the fire, that the library was on fire. He heard it in his car just after he bought a chili dog. And so she describes how he threw he threw the chili dog out, sped off. And I’m thinking to myself, OK, I don’t even think he was alive at the time. So she probably would have found that detail through an interview that someone else had done. And it adds to the story. And don’t get me wrong, it makes for great reading because you feel like you’re there. That kind of detail is the difference between really bad history and really engaging history. And –but at the same time, you kind of wonder if she’s a little bit liberal with that as well.
PHIL What if she’s if she’s liberal with the truth? You mean did, did he throw that chili dog out?
JAY I just I want to know. So that could be the next book. The Chili Dog, where she investigates if he threw the wrapper out as well. This is so… And then she could do, she could weave around that the history of chili dogs.
PHIL Oh my God, Jay, somebody on Twitter a couple of months ago did a parody of creative non-fiction writing and it was like, you know, “I remember the taste of my first hot dog at the county fair.” And then, you know, it’s like way overwritten and then it follows, like, “the hot dog was invented in…”
JAY Yeah, that’s right. We should do that for our own podcast sometime. Let’s just start going on about it.
PHIL And what about the way she drops herself into the story. Sometimes like that, you know, that can be tricky to do because it can be self-indulgent, you know what I mean?
JAY I didn’t mind it. I didn’t mind it. I mean, it it was, it was done in a way — because she is the narrator, I don’t know what the right term, literary term for it is, but she’s part of the message herself. Right? So she becomes part of the communication, because she is the one communicating what’s going on. And with that comes subjectivity. With that comes her own perspective, her own lens on the situation. You know, she’s talking about things like her feelings towards homeless people, her uncomfortableness with certain aspects of, of what goes on at the library, and that’s OK, that’s OK, because I think the reader expects it anyway. It’s kind of an unspoken rule that when you’re reading a book that is described as non-fiction, you’re still reading someone’s interpretation of what may or may not have been the truth. Does that make sense?
PHIL Yeah. Yeah, of course. Yeah, I wanted to go back to one of the central stories in the in the book, which is the story of this guy, Harry Peak, who’s kind of a — I don’t even know if he’s a failed actor, because it’s not even clear if he ever seriously tried to be an actor. But he’s, he’s this, he’s the one who gets arrested, charged with the crime, although the charges are dropped, and he winds up suing the city for 15 million dollars, I think, and then the city sues him for something like 25 million dollars and he winds up settling for $35,000. But he’s, he’s just this really enigmatic character who claims to have set the fire, to not have set the fire, to have been in the library, to have never heard of the library, to have been a friend of Burt Reynolds. What did, what did you make of him as a ass a character?
JAY He was perfect because he was the perfect, tragic character. Right? He’s just one flawed individual, undoubtedly a liar. But interesting enough, it’s—you notice that everyone she interviewed who knew him seemed to just forgive him for his flaws. There was really no…
PHIL They’re like, oh, yeah, he just lies all the time.
JAY Yeah, yeah. And so clearly, I guess he brought something else to the table in terms of personality. But I, I thought it was interesting because he’s ultimately—he was a nobody, you know, one of those people who ultimately just get forgotten and no one remembers them. And you might even argue that his continued participation in playing the role of the accused was on purpose. So he continually changed his story, so that he would continually be considered — it’s almost like he was, he was auditioning for the role of the person who started the fire. And then, because he knew deep down that being associated with the fire would bring him that notoriety and publicity and, you know, did he start the fire? And that actually becomes one of the best parts of the book, in that ultimately you really don’t know, right?
PHIL Yeah, I could see, I can see what you’re saying, that if he’s—for someone who, you know, never got into the spotlight. His constant lying about and changing his story might make sense as a, as a—because part of it is like, what the hell are you doing? Right? And then at the same time, I guess that is what would keep him in the spotlight, which he obviously loved. Right?
JAY Can we talk a little bit, though, about libraries? I know you have a great love for them. So this is where it may get dicey. Um, are they relevant?
PHIL Yeah, it’s, I was going to say I noticed you kept saying, you kept using the past tense and you talked about all the things they did.
JAY I know something you don’t know. I didn’t want to have to break it to you, but libraries are on their way out. Discuss. How do you feel about libraries? Do you think that they have a place in our future?
PHIL When’s the last time you went to the library? You might surprise me here by saying last week.
JAY I did go for that exposition of yours on, which was great, by the , on fermentation. That was to promote your book, Adventures in Bubbles and Brine, available…
PHIL You’re doing a better job promoting my book than me.
JAY Available at all—available on Amazon. Is it available at Amazon?
PHIL Yeah. Yeah, of course.
JAY OK. All right. And it’s a great book. I highly recommend it. Before that, it was really — I’ve met networking contacts at the library for coffee. I have not borrowed a book from the library in decades. And a large part of that is because that is — my nature is, I guess, deep down I’m a collector. I like collecting books, I like reading them and keeping them on my bookshelf. reason why I’m kind of on this in this camp that thinks that they’re kind of on their way out is because as far as I can tell, they’ve, they’ve transitioned themselves or, you know, maybe they haven’t because they’ve been doing this historically as well. But they’re kind of community spots, right? They are an area of a community or city that is accessible, free, and is a place where people gather, and they gather there for different reasons that — I know I’m not super-familiar with all library services, but I do know that they are kind of considered community places. At a certain point, I think city planners are going to be faced with a decision: do they want community centres or do they want libraries? And the other issue with libraries that we know is that I — books are kind of on their way out as well. Physical books.
PHIL I know sales were up in the last year for a lot of bookstores.
JAY Right. But compared, compared to ten years ago? Compared to five? Right? So they’re not exactly at an all-time peak are they?
PHIL So, I couldn’t give you the numbers. I mean, for me there’s a few different things. One, like when — I was part of the process when we were leading up to building the central library in Halifax. I stepped down from the board like the year before it opened. So, you know, I was privy to a lot of the community consultations and the feedback. And there was just this incredible outpouring of like — people had really strong feelings of belonging to the library. At the library. And I think, I mean, I do know what you mean about the community space thing. But if I, look I mean, I think about the services I’ve used over the last year, like, I I borrow a lot of books on my Kobo from the library. I buy books on it, too. But I also borrow the e-books. I stream movies from the library on Kanopy. I get physical books in the library. I’ve noticed they have like, you know, they do I can’t remember, do they talk about this in the book? There are libraries like — I know the Halifax Public Library actually has like a social worker on staff. Right? Because the library, because it has such a broad mandate, it can fill all kinds of needs that aren’t necessarily being met elsewhere. Like last spring during the lockdown, there are a lot of people who, like needed Wi-Fi for schooling and stuff. They were taking Wi-Fi hotspots to shelters, right? They had snacks. You could just go get food because there were a lot of kids who were not getting food from breakfast programmes anymore because they were at home. They could get food from the library. You know, you can — we could record this podcast in a studio at the library if we wanted to. So there’s actually, there’s like some growing of food at the library, at various branches also. So I think they’re just brilliant in their way that they can — they’re good at adapting to needs. There’s a lot of like second language learning there or — I think, and I think one thing that struck me like back maybe eight, nine years ago was when a lot of people were talking about, well, the library of the future is electronic, and all this, was how many people were like, yeah, but we also love the books. Like, especially families, right? I think that’s an important thing for people with small kids. They go to the puppet shows, they get books, they — I think it fills a real need for families. So to me, I don’t know, I was kind of interested to see in the book that she talks about how in 1979 people were like, well, the library will be obsolete in a couple of years. And I thought, OK, this is a trope that’s actually been around for a long time, but, you know, I think, in fact, over the last decade, there’s been kind of a library renaissance in North America, if anything. Like, there’s all these new buildings going up. So I don’t know, I guess we would disagree on that one.
JAY Yeah, no, for sure.
PHIL I like the quote at the end of the book. When she — at the start of the book, she says how she’d kind of given up on writing books. Right? She thought it was too much work and not worth the effort. And then she starts remembering going to the library as a child with her mom. And her mom has dementia now and, you know, she’s moved to L.A. and her kid has to go to the library for an assignment, and, and so that kind of gets her interested in libraries again. And I really like this this quote from her that’s I don’t know if it’s the, it’s the very end of the book, I think, where she says, “I felt buoyed by being here. This is why I wanted to write this book. To tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me, but feels like it is mine and how that feels marvellous and exceptional. All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library. A simple, unspoken promise: Here I am, please tell me your story. Here is my story.” I mean, I thought that summed it up kind of beautifully. What did you think of that?
JAY I didn’t quite understand the last line. I’m not trying to be argumentative here, but “Here I am, please tell me your story. Here’s my story.” I did like the first part about kind of her love of the place, and I share that same nostalgia for libraries. And I use the word nostalgia because I, you know, admittedly I haven’t been in a library for that same reason that I would have when I was a kid, right before the Internet. I mean, this idea of, of finding what you want, of the excitement when you’re a kid, of the books that are available to you that you could take out and you could always take out as many as you wanted. And then even later on, I you know, I discovered that you could take out CDs. So I do love that part of the library. And so as an ending paragraph, I thought I have mixed feelings. It was, it was — and it’s her comment. It’s just, I didn’t quite understand. Here I am. Please tell me your story. Here is my story. I — it didn’t resonate with me particularly, but generally otherwise, I mean, clearly she had a relationship with libraries as a child. Right? Her mother would take her there and then probably like, a lot like me, she just kind of moved on from that need and got her books elsewhere. And I believe she even said that she had the same kind of reaction as me in terms of, to people — like why not just buy the book? And I’m probably sure I’ve given you that same reaction…
PHIL She’s a collector, she said.
JAY Yeah, well, I’m sure you and I have had that same conversation as well. You know, you’ll talk about kind of how you’re waiting in line for a book and you’re third in line. And I’m like, Phil, just go buy it at Amazon. Two-day delivery. You’ll have it. You can read it.
PHIL I usually buy from an independent, but…
JAY Oh, you do. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s, it was a really neat book as well because it kind of really reminded me of how much the world has changed and how much libraries for me when I was younger were these huge depositories of information. And it was exciting. It was like, I can learn so much if I just sit here at these library shelves and read all these books. I can learn anything I want. The same information is now available. I mean, I’m still not learning everything I want. But you can get that same information, though, through Wikipedia, Google and everything else out there now. And so it’s become more immediate. And that whole tactile feel of a book, that whole idea of static information that you have to go through the effort of reading rather than watching a YouTube video, how to how to fix something. You know, back then you’d read manuals. So it’s changed. Everything has changed quite a bit. And and I appreciated the book because it was able to kind of dip into the past and remind me of how books were so meaningful and such a huge presence in my life and how libraries kind of were that forum. And now today how things have changed so much.
PHIL Yet they still play that role for a lot of other folks. So, I’m not saying they should for you. I’m just saying it’s not, you know…
JAY Well well, you know, that’s a great point, Phil. And they do do that for a lot of folks. And maybe I am being a little—we haven’t even touched on this, but the idea that if somebody who can afford to buy their books, that’s one thing. But there’s a lot of people out there who can’t. And the library fills an important purpose for them. And so to that degree, I’m not saying I want them to go away when I say that they may be, they may go away. That’s more a question about economics. But ultimately, they play a great role for people that way.
PHIL Yeah, I think I mean, this is another subject, really. But I think one of the issues is that the people who—I mean, what I found when we would go meet with, like, you know, deputy ministers and stuff is they were folks who would never use the library. So they had no concept of what went on there, and they’d be like, well, I can just get my books from Amazon, right?
JAY Yeah, yeah.
PHIL Yeah. Well, I have to say I really expected that—your reaction to the book has surprised me. Because I thought, I thought there were parts of it that you would enjoy, I didn’t, I’m not saying I chose it deliberately for you to dislike. I did not. But I did not expect you to be as positive about it as you as you are. So that’s kind of interesting for me.
JAY I don’t think you you’ll remember this, but I actually tried to go work for the library at one point, but I didn’t.
PHIL I don’t remember.
JAY I didn’t get…
PHIL Oh yes!
JAY I didn’t get the job. So that’s that’s part of my negative bias. So that’s fine. I like that, I set that aside. And it was—I did enjoy this book actually.
PHIL So we should rate the book, I guess.
JAY Well, I will, I will preface my rating with saying that she’s very deft at creating dramatic tension, things like the way she lays out everyone’s reactions as the fire begins to burn. So she develops — this creates this feeling of tension that builds. The way she does that, as she describes how people hear about the fire, what actions they take, whether it’s throwing a chili dog out the window or just talking to the mayor or even just a librarian standing on the sidewalk and crying. And the approach she uses makes me feel like I wasn’t removed from the action. So I wasn’t reading this from 30,000 feet. It almost felt like I was there. So well done on that part. So I would give this a four out of five, and so for the listeners of this podcast I would I would clarify that to say it’s a very readable book. You learn a little bit and you don’t feel like you’ve slogged through. Sometimes you slog through biographies or political books. And she does a great job of keeping the reader’s interest, which is saying a lot, because really it’s a book that’s really about libraries. But what do you think, Phil?
PHIL You know what, I would give it a four as well. I was briefly kind of tempted to go to a 4.5, but I would say The Orchid Thief is a 4.5 because I liked it better. So if I gave this a 4.5, I’d have to give the Orchid Thief a five and it’s not a five. So…
JAY Well, so, would you recommend I read the other book?
PHIL The Orchid Thief?
JAY Knowing how you feel, knowing how now that you know, now that you know how I feel about this book, you’d recommend The Orchid Thief to me?
PHIL I would. I mean, we could yeah, yeah, for sure, and I don’t know…
JAY We can’t do The Orchid Thief for our next book. because I picked something else Phil.
PHIL I think two by Susan Orlean in a row would have been kind of dull anyway. So our next one is Masters of Doom. Do I have the title correct?
JAY You do. By David Kushner. Have you, did you play games like Doom 2 and Doom and Quake, those third-person video shooters that were computer games?
PHIL You know what, I, I didn’t. Or maybe if I did, like, very, very minimally, like, I’m wondering if I should go—can you still get them? You must be able to.
JAY You can actually on Steam. I’ll send you a link. It’s, that’s…
PHIL I do have Steam.
JAY That’s actually the one that has Brutal Legend as well, which is something else you should check out.
JAY You could probably get Doom 2 for, you know, six, six dollars or something. It would actually be…
PHIL I can, I can picture the graphics.
JAY I think you’re going to like the book. We’ll see. It’s about the two guys who actually invented those games. And it kind of takes us through historically what times were like back then when they’re getting started. So it’s almost like, you know, you think about the two Steves with Apple and they start — this is more the same kind of story, but it’s it’s on video games and how they just changed an entire culture.
PHIL Speaking of Apple, we should probably put in a plug here for if you’re listening to this podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere else, give us a review. Give us, you know, go drop a star rating, write a few words about the podcast that helps other people find us.
JAY Also, we really love reading those reviews, too. They’re the highlight of our life these days.
PHIL The lockdown is getting to Jay.
JAY So is that it, Phil?
PHIL I think that’s it. Masters of Doom. I did not get it from the library, I bought it on my Kobo again. So—I don’t think the library had it. And I didn’t have time to put in a request for purchase and see if they would buy it or not.
JAY Oh, you and Your libraries. OK. See yo next time.
PHIL All right. See you next time.