Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Reader on Reading

I'm a little over midway through Alberto Manguel's collection of essays called A Reader on Reading, but I wanted to review it now anyways to get some thoughts on paper before a book club discussion of it later this week. Unlike his previous volume, The Library at Night, this book is a collection of items previously published in a variety of other places, so it's not quite as coherent in form. An attempt has been made to tie all the pieces together using Alice in Wonderland as an organizing metaphor, but I don't know that it's particulary successful. That aside, many of the pieces themselves are excellent. I especially appreciate Manguel's ability to be both deeply in love with the act and form of reading, while simultaneously aware of its challenges and defects. I rarely mark up the books I read, but fairly soon into this one I felt the need to pull out a pencil and start annotating and underlining various passages that I wanted to remember or comment upon. To me, that's the mark of a successful author, one who makes you want to engage with their text.

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