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The Library at Night (2006)

by Alberto Manguel

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,640695,455 (4.11)209
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.… (more)
  1. 30
    Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles (Ludi_Ling)
  2. 10
    On the Map: Why the World Looks the Way it Does by Simon Garfield (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Does for Maps what Manguel's book does for libraries.
  3. 10
    Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World by Lawrence Goldstone (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Bibliophiles meditate on the considerations of assembling a library
  4. 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.
  5. 00
    Libraries in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson (Ludi_Ling)
  6. 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
  7. 00
    Resa i tysta rum : okända svenska slottsbibliotek by Per Wästberg (bonne1978)
  8. 01
    The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (kristenn)
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» See also 209 mentions

English (54)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (3)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (67)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
The writing is at turns interesting and pompous, leaning mostly to the pompous. The book also has some factual errors about the Google book scanning project, which weakens the critique, but only if you know the details. Mostly, this ended up being an annoying effort to show off the breadth of reading by this writer. ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
I love libraries, visit one weekly and, appropriately enough, I borrowed this book from my local library. In my youth my dream had been to own a large library with walled shelves along with comfortable chairs, low lighting, and reading tables. That hasn't quite worked out like I had hoped-my books are double-stacked on my shelves and sitting in piles on the floor! Alberto Manguel built his dream library out of the remains of an old stone barn and filled it with his many books. It sounds so beautiful and I am so very envious.

The book describes libraries of the past, and in many forms and settings. I found out that the famous Library at Alexandria did not burn down in one big conflagration, it more just withered away. He writes of secret libraries, historical libraries, national libraries, imagined libraries, book burnings (sadly they still happen, and here in the United States), and much more. We live in a society where books are being banned and librarians and teachers can be arrested for carrying or promoting certain books. Where the U.S government can flag library patrons for books that they take out. Funds are being dramatically cut to libraries. This is very sad and terrible. For many, libraries are the only source of books, study, and reading. Libraries are necessary for a free society. I think I need to re-read Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451...

Manguel writes almost poetically in his descriptions, and this was a joy to read. Anyone who loves books and libraries (everyone in Goodreads?) will enjoy this. And use an "I read banned books" bookmark-I did!!


( )
  CRChapin | Jul 8, 2023 |
This wasn't as rich and strange as I hoped it would be, but that is probably what could be said about every library. The promise of all the books on shelves is more thrilling than the contents of each volume on its own. It's still a lovely read and a lovely gift. ( )
  emilymcmc | Jun 24, 2023 |
Manguel shares with us the ideal life of a bibliophile from the vantage point of someone with the means to live that life. He intercuts his own story with fascinating histories of other notable libraries and bibliophiles. ( )
  imagists | Sep 26, 2021 |
The author seems a bit full of himself. I own the books I do because I enjoy them, not to impress others about how literate I am.

I have bookcases in the rooms we live in, not a separate library with a wall from a medieval castle. Well, good for him, but it makes relating to what he writes very difficult. I gave up fairly early. ( )
1 vote MarthaJeanne | Jan 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (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)
 
Den spränglärde Alberto Manguel har skrivit en faktaspäckad bibliotekshistoria med poetiska och en del humoristiska och tragikomiska inslag. Om dock, som sagt, alltför välfylld
 
Manguels bok har den där sällsynta kombinationen av lätthet och tyngd, oväntade infall och uppfordrande eftertanke.
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Manguel, AlbertoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allié, ManfredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Criado Fernández, CarmenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eklöf, MargaretaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kempf-Allié, GabrieleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Le Boeuf, ChristineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simoes, RitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoiculescu, AncaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Titan Júnior, SamuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trávníčková, OlgaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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."
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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 (1)

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.

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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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