A Reader on Reading Alberto Manguel

Publication date:
28 Jun 2011
Yale University Press
320 pages: 235 x 156mm
12 b-w illus.
Sales territories:
World English

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An intimate and exhilarating journey through the world of books by the internationally celebrated author

In this major collection of his essays, Alberto Manguel, whom George Steiner has called “the Casanova of reading,” argues that the activity of reading, in its broadest sense, defines our species. “We come into the world intent on finding narrative in everything,” writes Manguel, “landscape, the skies, the faces of others, the images and words that our species create.” Reading our own lives and those of others, reading the societies we live in and those that lie beyond our borders, reading the worlds that lie between the covers of a book are the essence of A Reader on Reading.

The thirty-nine essays in this volume explore the crafts of reading and writing, the identity granted to us by literature, the far-reaching shadow of Jorge Luis Borges, to whom Manguel read as a young man, and the links between politics and books and between books and our bodies. The powers of censorship and intellectual curiosity, the art of translation, and those “numinous memory palaces we call libraries” also figure in this remarkable collection. For Manguel and his readers, words, in spite of everything, lend coherence to the world and offer us “a few safe places, as real as paper and as bracing as ink,” to grant us room and board in our passage.

Alberto Manguel is one of the world's great readers. He is a member of PEN, a Guggenheim Fellow, and an Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters. He has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Prix Médicis in essays for A History of Reading, and the McKitterick Prize for his novel News from a Foreign Country Came. Among his most recent books is The Library at Night, also published by Yale University Press. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

"Books jump out of their jackets when Manguel opens them and dance in delight as they make contact with his ingenious, voluminous brain." -Peter Conrad, The Observer

"Manguel is a true polymath, and A Reader on Reading is a kind of a primer, or perhaps a masterclass. It's like listening to Barenboim on Beethoven... The range and complexity of Manguel's sympathies and readings is extensive and baroque." -Ian Sansom, The Guardian

"In reading, he realises that there are a thousand and one stories to be told about books, each narrative or anecodote leading to and from another, in an infinite progression... A Reader on Reading is an invitation to readers to enter into a world of wonders." -Iain Finlayson, The Times

"''There are', writes Manguel, 'certain books that, in themselves, are an ideal library.' This book might be one of them." -Angel Gurria-Quintana, Financial Times

"Manguel weaves his recollections into literary musings... his overall argument is compelling." -Edward King, Sunday Times

"Manguel ranges from the Sumerian Epic of Gilamesh to Borges’s Infinite Library of Babel, wearing his erudition lightly and never failing to cast light on the texts."—PD Smith, The Guardian

"Spellbinding, thought-provoking and deeply satisfying"—Good Book Guide

"As a treatise on the magic of literature, A Reader on Reading is near definitive.”—Cian Taylor, Irish Times