Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean, a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of eight books, will speak Tuesday evening at the Center for the Arts as part of the “Page to the Podium” series.

Susan Orlean is coming to Jackson next month, and you can already snag your free tickets for the event.

But only if you have a library card. Teton County Library is hosting Orlean as part of its Page to Podium series, which brings accomplished writers to the Center for the Arts’ main stage.

Her newest book is called “The Library Book,” and though it investigates the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles library, it is about her relationship with libraries in general.

“It’s kind of a love letter to libraries,” said Leah Schlachter, the library’s adult programs coordinator.

It may be a bit too meta to have a library hosting a writer who writes about libraries, but it’s important to remind people about why libraries are important, Schlachter said.

“The library removes barriers to information and materials and resources,” Schlachter said. “They survive history and equalize things.”

Orlean is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of several books, including “The Orchid Thief,” which may be her best-known work. Her writing is journalistically expansive, often exploring a seminal event along with its attendant history and her own personal narrative.

“The Library Book” is no different. Orlean searches through the L.A. library’s history, finding pioneering librarians and characters, including Harry Peak, a serial liar who told friends he started the fire. She sets her investigation of Peak against the overall chronicle of the library.

“As a narrator, Orlean moves like fire herself,” says a Washington Post review, “with a pyrotechnic style that smolders for a time over some ancient bibliographic tragedy, leaps to the latest technique in book restoration and then illuminates the story of a wildly eccentric librarian.”

Tickets for the Page to Podium event, which is at 6 p.m. Aug. 6, are available at, but only if you have your Teton County Library card or one from Valley of the Tetons library. If you’d like to meet Orlean beforehand, you can purchase a $50 ticket — proceeds benefit the Library Foundation — that includes snacks, cocktails, a meet and greet and the talk.

Whichever ticket you choose, Orlean will stick around following the event to sign copies of her books, and maybe, just maybe, she’ll listen to your story about your favorite library.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-5902 or

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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