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The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel

The Library at Night (original 2006; edition 2009)

by Alberto Manguel

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1,790523,914 (4.12)141
Title:The Library at Night
Authors:Alberto Manguel
Info:Yale University Press (2009), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, Already Read

Work details

The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel (Author) (2006)

  1. 20
    Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles (Ludi_Ling)
  2. 00
    Libraries in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson (Ludi_Ling)
  3. 00
    The Library: An Illustrated History by Stuart A. P. Murray (Jannes)
    Jannes: Nice Coffee table-ish book that should be a treat for anyone with an interest in libraries and library history.
  4. 00
    Sixpence House by Paul Collins (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: A bibliophile reflects on books, bookselling, writing and reading in the book-filled Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye
  5. 01
    The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (kristenn)

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» See also 141 mentions

English (40)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (3)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
La biblioteca de noche es una inmersión emotiva, amena y erudita, alentada por la curiosidad, sobre el atractivo de esos lugares que llamamos bibliotecas y el afán del hombre por coleccionar, en este caso libros. Lugares «gratamente disparatados», según le han parecido siempre al autor, que le han seducido por su «lógica laberíntica» a la hora de ordenar esa «acumulación cacofónica de libros». Alberto Manguel, nos muestra en La biblioteca de noche su amor apasionado por los libros y por esos espacios, míticos en algunos casos, que los han albergado a lo largo de los siglos. Nos revela el placer de la aventura que siente cuando se pierde entre estantes atestados de libros «con la seguridad supersticiosa de que una jerarquía de letras o de números me conducirá algún día al destino prometido». Esas delicias que se esconden entre sus anaqueles y entre páginas, en negro sobre blanco; lugares en los que hallar consolación.
  Patricia.Carruthers | Apr 1, 2014 |
Maybe biblio fanatic for some but this guy is a King of language. ( )
1 vote literateowl | Dec 11, 2013 |
I was really looking forward to reading this book, but my excitement didn't last beyond page 10. This was a very dry and difficult read. I found it slow-going and scattered at times. However, I kept on pushing through, hoping I'd fall upon a gem or two. But even the few fun facts I read were not enough to save the book for me.

Once I finished I immediately wished I was the type of reader who flips to the last page of the book and reads it before deciding to read the complete book. If I was that type of reader I would have known how self-indulgent Manguel's writing tends to be. The last two sentences of his book read: "Consolation, perhaps. Perhaps consolation." ::rolls eyes:: Maybe it's his tone throughout the book; I'm not sure. But his prose caused me to roll my eyes more than once.

I'm not doubting that the man is an intellectual; he is that. But I do think he takes himself a bit too seriously. I mean come on. Who includes a list of his favorite non-canonical books at the end of his own book? Really? I hope that was the suggestion of the publisher. ( )
  Caitdub | Oct 24, 2013 |
Impacted with the most delightful of thoughts and information, every time I'd thought that I'd read the best of it, Manguel would surprise me with something even better. His passion for books is inarguable. His unique, insightful views are perfectly interwoven with intriguing historical references. With each element strengthening the last, I couldn't help but smile as I read this. ( )
  Melissarochell | Jul 20, 2013 |
I feel ambiguous about this explorations of libraries and their meanings. On one hand I'm deeply on the side of libraries - I've used and worked in libraries for nearly all my life and am emotionally bound up with them in undisentanglable ways. But there's a big difference between a public library and a private one, and that's where this book fell down in my estimation. What Manguel is building and talking about is his private library, which is a completely different thing from something that is a public good.

A private library may well be an interesting reflection of an individual's reading life - but my feeling is that there is something slightly unhealthy about it. When I moved across the Atlantic, I had the choice of bringing hardly anything with me or of shipping a container. It was the books I owned that swung the argument in favour of the container. So I'm guilty of hoarding books, too. But the difference is that I see it as something that I should feel guilty about. Manguel is proud of his books and seems to see them as a monument to his own life, his own significance. Me, I'm trying not to buy new books and I thin out the old ones when I can. I use the public library service to feed my habit and avoid the problem of too many books.

There's this whole book-fetish thing going on in this volume. An idolisation of the book as an object which I find hard to understand. I think it's the difference between the mentality of a collector and the mentality of an information professional.

Oh dear, this is turning into a rather rambling review. There are some interesting stories in this volume and ample evidence of a life spent reading. I liked the reflections on censorship, the histories of various libraries and librarians. I wasn't so keen on the fetishism and the tinge of technophobia. ( )
  AJBraithwaite | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
The Library at Night, fortunately, is more than a tour of the microcosm contained in Manguel's converted barn. Its fondness for leathery bindings and its fussy annoyance about the 'evil white scabs' of price-stickers slimily glued to book jackets soon give way to a crusading defence of the library as a mental sanctuary, a repository of memory, the only kind of home that has any emotional value for Manguel the deracinated cosmopolitan.
added by Ludi_Ling | editThe Observer, Peter Conrad (Apr 22, 2008)
Manguel beschrijft de vele facetten en problemen van het verzamelen, zowel voor de particuliere verzamelaar als voor de professionele bibliothecaris.
Wie het boek van Alberto Manguel leest, maakt een boeiende en interessante reis door de boekenwereld van vele eeuwen. Boeiende beschrijvingen, doortrokken met anekdotes die in Manguels fabelachtige geheugen liggen opgeslagen. Ik raad iedereen die meer dan honderd boeken heeft aan dit boek te kopen en te lezen
De bibliotheek bij nacht is een boek over de manieren waarop de mens door de eeuwen heen boeken heeft verzameld en bibliotheken heeft vormgegeven. Manguel is niet alleen geïnteresseerd in geschiedenis en architectuur, maar ook in de psychologie van de bibliothecaris, waarbij hij volop ruimte biedt aan anekdotes die ergens in zijn fabelachtige geheugen lagen opgeslagen („Ik denk in citaten”).
added by sneuper | editNRC, Pieter Steinz (Dec 14, 2007)

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Manguel, AlbertoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eklöf, MargaretaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the sixteenth century, the Ottoman poet Adbullatif Celebi, better known as Latifi, called each of the books in his library "a true and loving friend who drives away all cares."
This book is for Craig.
First words
The library in which I have at long last collected my books began life as a barn sometime in the fifteenth century, perched on a small hill south of the Loire.
If a library is a mirror of the universe, then a catalogue is a mirror of that mirror.
Writing about the librarian's action [hiding the books], Borzykowski remarked that it was carried out "without any consideration as to whether anyone would ever need the saved books": it was an act of rescuing memory per se. The universe, the ancient cabbalists believed, is not contingent on our reading it; only on the possibility of our reading it.
In order for these nightly imaginations to flourish, I must allow my other senses to awaken - to see and touch the pages, to hear the crinkle and the rustle of the paper and the fearful crack of the spine, to smell the wood of the shelves, the musky perfume of the leather bindings, the acrid scent of my yellowing pocket books. Then I can sleep.
"...the Library of Congress's catalogues...include such curious categories as:
~ banana research
~ bat binding
~ boots and shoes in art
~ chickens in religion and folklore
~ sewage: collected works
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Contains: The library as myth -- The library as order -- The library as space -- The library as power -- The library as shadow -- The library as shape -- The library as chance -- The library as workshop -- The library as mind -- The library as island -- The library as survival -- The library as oblivion -- The library as imagination -- The library as identity -- The library as home.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300139144, Hardcover)

Inspired by the process of creating a library for his fifteenth-century home near the Loire, in France, Alberto Manguel, the acclaimed writer on books and reading, has taken up the subject of libraries. “Libraries,” he says, “have always seemed to me pleasantly mad places, and for as long as I can remember I’ve been seduced by their labyrinthine logic.” In this personal, deliberately unsystematic, and wide-ranging book, he offers a captivating meditation on the meaning of libraries.


Manguel, a guide of irrepressible enthusiasm, conducts a unique library tour that extends from his childhood bookshelves to the “complete” libraries of the Internet, from Ancient Egypt and Greece to the Arab world, from China and Rome to Google. He ponders the doomed library of Alexandria as well as the personal libraries of Charles Dickens, Jorge Luis Borges, and others. He recounts stories of people who have struggled against tyranny to preserve freedom of thought—the Polish librarian who smuggled books to safety as the Nazis began their destruction of Jewish libraries; the Afghani bookseller who kept his store open through decades of unrest. Oral “memory libraries” kept alive by prisoners, libraries of banned books, the imaginary library of Count Dracula, the library of books never written—Manguel illuminates the mysteries of libraries as no other writer could. With scores of wonderful images throughout, The Library at Night is a fascinating voyage through Manguel’s mind, memory, and vast knowledge of books and civilizations.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:11 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Inspired by the process of creating a library for his 15th century home near the Loire in France, Alberto Manguel has taken up the subject of libraries. In this personal, deliberately unsystematic, and wide-ranging book, he offers a captivating meditation on the meaning of libraries.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300139144, 0300151306

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