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A Reading Diary: A Passionate Reader's Reflections on a Year of Books Paperback – November 15, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Writer and critic Manguel's (Reading Pictures) elegantly elliptical and wryly contemporary diary of cities revisited and books reread during 2002 and 2003 opens with a journey he undertakes to his birthplace, Buenos Aires, just after Argentina's economic crisis in December 2001. As Manguel's reading overlaps with jotted observations of Buenos Aires, he reflects on the meaning of homeland, and on memory. Nostalgia and the significance of cities—in personal and literary terms—are themes that preoccupy Manguel on further trips to London, Paris, Germany and Canada. Yet Manguel is less melancholic than thoughtful and joyfully postmodern. At home in rural France, his reflections range as widely as on his travels, emerging as he tidies his library, converses with writers Mavis Gallant and Rohinton Mistry, and receives visits from his adult children. His eclectic reading matter includes H.G. Wells, Conan Doyle, Margaret Atwood, Kipling and Goethe. And he quotes from many more writers: Chateaubriand, Virginia Woolf and Chesterton, to name but a few. Manguel delights in list making—whether of favorite detective novels, mad scientists or literary heroes. Manguel's exquisitely distilled style and gentle humility are pure pleasure. His diary is a gold mine of the unexpected, and his companionable, deeply cultivated persona will entrance all those who love to read and to ponder.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
An exceptionally responsive reader, a discerning and cosmopolitan literary scholar, and the author of the much cherished A History of Reading (1996), Manguel writes about books with an enlivening mix of autobiography and criticism that now finds felicitous form in a two-year diary chronicling his rereading of a set of beloved books. This is a time-honored tradition, but Manguel's approach is unique in his selections, his perceptions, and his savoir faire. An Argentine who became a Canadian citizen and who has traveled and lived all around the world, Manguel counts among his favorites Sherlock Holmes and Don Quixote, Kipling and Goethe, H. G. Wells and Margaret Atwood, Memoirs from Beyond the Grave and The Wind in the Willows. Manguel muses on the resonance and relevance of these works and many others, while simultaneously recounting his journeys to such places as Buenos Aires, Newfoundland, and Sweden, and sharing the quiet pleasure of setting up his extensive library in his new (yet very old) home in France. (See p.214 for a review of Manguel's literary mystery.) Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
on book summaries and giving away plots:
I don't like people summing up books for me. Tempt me with a title, a scene, a quotation, yes, but not with the whole story. Fellow enthousiasts, jacket blurbs, teachers and histories of literature destroy much of our reading pleasure by ratting on the plot.
on writing in books (something i've only recently allowed myself to do)
I always write in my books. When I reread them, most of the time I can't imagine why I thought a certain passage worth underlining, or what I meant by a certain comment.
and then, i found i liked his reading tastes, that he's read books i haven't heard of. i imagined that it wouldn't be interesting reading about books i haven't read, but the snippets that he gives are enough that i can get the gist of the novel (and decide if i should read it) and figure out the point he's trying to make.
i found out about francois-rene de chateaubriand and his book memoirs from beyond the grave. with one excerpt, i knew i wanted to read it.
There are people who, while empires collapse, visit fountains and gardens.
threads of chateaubriand come up throughout what i've read of the book so far, and they're related to manguel's life, memories, surroundings. he relates passages and texts to remember (much in the way that chateaubriand himself encourages and finds).
Our existence is so fleeting that if we don't record the events of the morning in the evening, the work will weigh us down and we will no longer have the time to bring it up to date. This doesn't prevent us from wasting our years, from throwing to the wind those hours that are for us the seeds of eternity.
when the last section on chateaubriand came, i had already inquired about an english copy. and then another perfect sentence:
Reading Memoirs from Beyond the Grave, I forget that it is Chateaubriand, not I, who is mourning.
i'm was to october at this point with firm mind to read chateaubriand and more manguel. i had also figured out how he's managed to be so thoughtful about his reads, something i truly needed to learn to do myself. first, he's choosing books based on whims and wants. no reading schedules, really, just, going with the flow of things.
by the end of the book, he'd read 12 books, one per month, with some diaries, letters and related material read throughout to help write about the books and fully understand them. that's the kind of reading year i'd like for 2012. slow and thoughtful, unrushed.
I feel uncomfortable having other people's books at home. I want either to steal them or to return them immediately. There is something of the visitor who outstays his welcome in borrowed books. Reading them and knowing that they don't belong to me gives me the feeling of something unfinished, half-enjoyed. This is also true of library books.
The Invention of Morel (Adolfo Bioy Casares)
The Island of Dr. Moreau (Wells)
Memoirs From Beyond the Grave (Chateaubriand)
The Rule of Four (Doyle)
Elective Affinities (Goethe)
The Wind in the Willows
Don Quixote (Cervantes)
The Tartar Steppe (Dino Buzzati)
The Pillow Book (Sei Shonagon)
Surfacing (Margaret Atwood)
The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis)
So, essentially, a collection of eight world classics, several of which are "entertainments", one modern (ie. written in the last 50 years) novel, along with three relative obscurities. It goes almost without saying that the more of these you've read, the more likely you are to enjoy Manguel's ruminations of them. In sum, I have to admit that this is not at all the kind of writing I enjoy, but I know friends that would love it, and so it all comes down to personal taste. I did enjoy the profusion of lists that pop up in the book, as well as some odd little tidbits of history here and there and insights on the act of reading. I also found it rather amusing that one point, amidst all this rather high-culture rummaging, he mentions having read Thomas Harris's thriller "Hannibal" on the train.
Most recent customer reviews
Manguel decides to re-read one book a month, and write about it as he goes about his life.Read more