Category Archives: Yale University Press

Book Review: The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel

The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel Title: The Library at Night
Author: Alberto Manguel
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300151305
Genre: Non-Fiction, Books, Reading
Pages: 381
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

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.

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Book Review: Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books: Edited by Leah Price

Title: Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books
Edited by: Leah Price
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 978-0-300-17092-4
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 201
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Books can do many things – they can make you disappear in a world of their own, they can enchant the pants off you, they can make you forget what time it is, and at the same time make you realize the workings of the world. Books have that effect on most readers and also on authors. Keeping this in mind, Leah Price has edited a brilliant book for bibliophiles, titled, “Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books”. The title is self-explanatory and the book is a great watch.

The reason I say a great watch is because Leah Price and her team have managed to capture thirteen writers’ libraries, up close and personal and let me tell you it is a visual treat. The writers are not only in conversation with Leah but also have had no qualms in sharing what their libraries look like.

I loved the lineup of writers that contributed to this book: From Jonathan Lethem to Edmund White to Sophie Gee to Junot Diaz, the stories are well-shared. Each writer also shares with readers his/her Top 10 books.

As a book lover, it was a great feeling reading what writers think about the advent of e-books, when they first started buying books and what does reading mean to them. For instance, this is what Junot Diaz has to say about reading, quoting from Toni Morrison’s Beloved, “She is a friend of mine. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order”. This is one of the most beautiful ways in which I have read books being described.

Leah Price knows how to compile a book about books. The questions in the interview were perfect, ranging from how the writers shelve their books to how did they come about the list of top 10 recommendations to what will happen to their books when they die (a bit morbid though). I recommend this book to every bibliophile. It would be a great addition to their library and also a great reference to what should be read next.

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Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books (Unpacking My Library Series)