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A Reader on Reading [Kindle Edition]

Alberto Manguel
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


"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
(Peter Conrad The Observer)

“In this excellent collection of essays. . . Manguel reminds us of the community we join every time we open a book, be it something new or a treasured volume from our youth.”--Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly 2010-02-01)

"If there are such things as a musician’s musician and a writer’s writer, one could argue that Manguel (The Library at Night) is a reader’s reader.”--Library Journal 


(Library Journal 2010-03-01)

“Essays of this quality are worth reading, or rereading, wherever they are encountered.”--John Gross, New York Review of Books
(John Gross New York Review of Books)

“For those of us who are serious about books and literature, reading amounts to an almost sacred act. Many famous authors have extolled the pleasures of the printed page, of course, but to my mind none in recent years has done it so expertly or eloquently as Alberto Manguel. Happily, a collection of his best literary meditations is now on offer, A Reader on Reading, and it is a must for book lovers."--John Sledge, Mobile Press-Register

(John Sledge Mobile Press-Register 2010-03-28)

“The range of A Reader on Reading is in itself as intriguing as that of a good library. . . . A book full of good things.”--Michael Dirda, Barnes & Noble Review
(Michael Dirda Barnes & Noble Review 2010-05-07)

 “A meditation on ‘the art of reading’ . . . [and] a celebration of ‘the reader’s whims--trust in pleasure and faith in haphazardness.’ ”--The New Yorker

(The New Yorker)

About the Author

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 940 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 030015982X
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (February 18, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0038LB4GM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,018 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FEAST OF PLEASURES, ALL ABOUT READING June 20, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"When I was eight or nine, my disbelief was not so much suspended as yet unborn, and fiction felt at times more real
than everyday fact."
(Alberto Manguel)

I've been a fan of Manguel since his novel, News from a Foreign Country Came (1991). I've read with pleasure his Dictionary of Imaginary Places (revised, 2000) and with more than pleasure --with unstinting admiration! --his lovely A History of Reading (pb, 1997). Last year I read his With Borges, about the enriching experience of reading books to the blind Argentinian literary master and what Manguel learned from him. In all of these books, Manguel's largeness of spirit and his generous approach to reading books is apparent. So hurrah for him!

Now Yale has issued in paperback a splendid collection of short pieces by Manguel, on libraries, on reading, writing, editing.... None of the pieces is long, which, given the richness of citations and allusions in the best of them, is a good thing because they all can be read in one sitting, with time at the end for reflection on what one has just ingested. Manguel's style is in some aspects like Borges -complex reflections on, transmutations of, literary and life themes, infused with of a lifetime filled with reading. Reading Manguel is like talking with an old friend, a terribly bookish friend who loves books but hasn't retreated from the world.

"... hasn't retreated from the world..." A good way to describe his writing.

The best essay in the book is entitled "Meanwhile, In Another Part of the Forest," and it addresses the question of -the nature of, purpose of-- gay literature today.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Standout Bookman May 29, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The continuing popularity of printed books in these digital times is due at least in a small way to the superb writings of Nicholas Basbanes and Alberto Manguel.
Manguel usually observes the world of books from a very personal viewpoint which different readers may consider either a strength or a liability. I regard it as a positive, as his views are distinctive, sincere and heartfelt. This book contains more biographical background on the author than his other works. The subjects of the approximately 40 short essays are random yet maintain an interesting flow. A fine general interest book and a "must-have" for collectors of books about books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Personal Library July 21, 2012
After leaving school, this being one of the few things school and I agreed on, I went into work, training as a comme chef, bypassing the higher education route for a fixed income and an escape from all things educational. So although my love of literature continued, even grew, it was without formal structure. In fact, it could quite easily be said that my route through literature was more of a paper chase, where one clue led to the next, or led me off on some strange/wild tangent - this solely depending on the degree of communication between myself and the last book read. Via this means, I discovered my path through the reading world, where one writer begat another, who begat another, who....., until, like some large shadow, this accumulation of the written word trailed behind me, to remain forever linked with some part of me, whether as a point in time, a recollection or, on a deeper level, as some elemental condition of who I am, and in the process became my personal library. This library, being the sum total of everything I've read.This lifetimes reading forms my key, my starting point, my guide and my level playing field, for everything I will read, and yet this is just one of the bibliotheca, a reader has at their disposal, and by reader I mean one such as myself, someone who believes books are:

not something you pick up between programmes;

as valid a form of nourishment as any protein/vitamin;

not merely entertainment (although it can be);

truth, even if the form taken is fiction.

"We come into the world intent on finding narrative in everything, in the landscape, in the skies, in the faces of others, and, of course, in the images and words that our species create".
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anyone who loves reading should read this book May 3, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Alberto Manguel is a writer who loves books. The way he shares his love of reading, shares the immense value and beauty of reading, how we learn and think in a way much different than those who do not read is magical as his gorgeous writing.
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George Steiner calls Alberto Manguel the "casanova of reading", and I agree! Manguel is articulate and writes beautifully. There are a lot of essays in this book and they all explore the different ways to read and write and what books do for our minds. "A Reader on Reading" is very academic and at first it was hard to get into. I also didn't know many of the authors of the essays and that he talked about. However, I loved the book and will definitely be reading his other books. The book shares the value of reading as only "readers" know it. Non-readers surely would not appreciate the complexities and value that the book brings to an individual.
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More About the Author

Internationally acclaimed as an anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist, and editor, Alberto Manguel is the bestselling author of several award-winning books, including A Dictionary of Imaginary Places and A History of Reading. He was born in Buenos Aires, moved to Canada in 1982 and now lives in France, where he was named a Chevalier de l'Ordre français des Arts et des Lettres.

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