A Reader on Reading


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Alberto Manguel

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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

"Though reading is often a solitary activity, Manguel reminds us of the community we join every time we open a book..." - Publishers Weekly

“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

"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 


“Essays of this quality are worth reading, or rereading, wherever they are encountered.”--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

‘Alberto Manguel is the Scheherazade of books: throughout the night in his personal library, he reads not only to save his life as a literary man but also to increase it. In reading, he realises that there are a thousand and one stories to be told about books, each narrative or anecdote leading to and from another, in an infinite progression or complex maze of allusions… [A Reader on Reading] is an invitation to readers to enter into a world of wonders.’ — Iain Finlayson, The Times

“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


‘“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

 “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

‘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; a concerto grosso.’ — Ian Sansom, The Guardian

‘Manguel weaves his recollections into literary musings…his overall argument is compelling.’ — Edward King, Sunday Times

'Manguel is extraordinarily well read. His erudition and wisdom make him the most stimulating of literary companions.' — Clive Davies, Writing Magazine

'This is reading, and it is truly marvellous.' — Andrea Goldsmith, Australian Book Review

'Manguel not only writes beautifully, he is a master of the art of reading. In this wide-ranging, single-minded collection, he empowers fellow book lovers…He tempts you to explore new avenues and sends you hurrying back to old favourites.' — Maggie Ferguson, Intelligent Life (The Economist)

“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

ISBN: 9780300172089
Publication Date: June 28, 2011
320 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
12 b/w illus.

Sales Restrictions: World English

László F.

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Alberto Manguel

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Please Talk to Me

Selected Stories

Liliana Heker; Translated by Alberto Manguel and Miranda Fr

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Faith in Reason

Alberto Manguel

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Packing My Library

An Elegy and Ten Digressions

Alberto Manguel

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