When Alberto Manguel speaks of books, you just sit back and soak in the words. You do not question his views, because he is so lucid and so bang on with what he has to say about reading and the mystery of words and books and authors and everything else connected to them. I first heard of him when I heard of, “A Reader on Reading” and since then I have not looked back on what he has written. I think by the end of the year, I would have read everything written by him. The thing with Manguel is that a reader cannot get enough of what his views are on reading and everything related to it. The book in this case being, “The Library at Night”.
The title is a strange one. For some it may also seem quaint and wistful, while it may sound absurd and creepy to yet another crowd of people. “The Library at Night” gets its name from the fact which Manguel believes in – libraries come to life more so at night-time, when the world is silent and the reader can actually enjoy the magic of reading and the power of words a lot more, than he or she could have during the day-time. He speaks of how a library changes form and shape at night and its impact on the reader.
From this idea on, Manguel speaks of libraries through the entire book and if it may seem boring to you, let me also tell you that it is not. It is anything but monotonous and tedious. He speaks of libraries of the world – personal, public, the ones plundered and the ones that just disappeared after a while. Alberto writes with a passion that is evident – he traces not only libraries and their purpose in today’s times but also speaks of his relationship to books and reading. This is what makes you feel close to a writer. A reader always wants to know how the writer feels. It is of paramount importance, I think.
“The Library at Night” is spread over fifteen chapters and each one is uniquely speaking of the library – as a myth, as order when it comes to cataloguing, as space – and the constraints of it, as an island, as a workshop, as imagination, survival and lots more. “The Library at Night” is fit for everyone who holds reading close to their heart and sometimes reading becomes the very reason of survival.