100 Word Challenge: Fire

Over the weekend, I finish reading a book I borrowed from my local library, appropriately titled, “The Library Book,” by Susan Orlean.

It was about the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Central Library that destroyed hundreds of thousands of books and other library materials – maps, film, music scores, plays, art…

From the book:

In total, four hundred thousand books in Central Library were destroyed in the fire. An additional seven hundred thousand were badly damaged by either smoke or water or, in many cases, both. The number of books destroyed or spoiled was equal to the entirety of fifteen typical branch libraries. It was the greatest loss to any public library in the history of the United States.

It took seven years to rebuilt and restock the Library.

This wasn’t a fictionalized telling of the event, but a well-researched account of not just the fire and the investigation into its origin, but also the whole of the Library’s history.

Orlean’s description of the Library fire was gut-wrenching. One of the few times I’ve cried while reading a book.

At one point in her narrative, Orlean tells of how she decided to burn a book. Since investigators believed the fire was arson, she wanted to feel what the suspected arsonist felt setting the fire.

It took her weeks to decided which book, agonizing over whether to choose one she loved, one she hated, or one of her own books. She said it was a nearly impossible choice. Finally her husband gifted her with a new paperback copy of Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s novel about, again appropriately, book burning.

I have a difficult enough time thinning out my personal library of books, which numbers close to 1,000, into a To-Read pile I can still never finish in my lifetime. (I’d rather consign them at a secondhand bookstore, or give them away). If I was forced to burn one, I don’t know if I could pick one.

If you were forced to burn a book, how would you choose? Could you choose?

The problem in our country isn’t with books being banned, but with people no longer reading. You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

This week’s word is:


What to do:

Using “fire” for inspiration, write 100 Words – 100 exactly – no more, no less. You can either use the word – or any form of the word – as one of your 100, or it can be implied. Include a link in your post back here, and add your story to the Mister Linky list. If you don’t have a blog, you can leave your submission in the comment section, or as a Facebook status post. Remember to keep spreading the love with supportive comments for your fellow Wordsters.

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