A Reading Diary

Publisher: Vintage Canada
The must-have literary book of the season! Over the course of a year, the bestselling author of A History of Reading spends a month with each of his 12 favourite books, allowing us to observe both the heart of the reading experience and how life around us can be illuminated by what we read.

From June 2002 to may 2003, Alberto Manguel set out to reread twelve of the books he likes best, and to share with us, his “gentle readers,” his impressions and experiences in doing so. We travel with him as he leaves Canada to set up house in a medieval presbytery in France, visits his childhood home in Argentina and embarks on trips to various other places, always carrying a book in his hand.

The result is an immensely enjoyable collection for every lover of reading — something between an intimate diary, a collection of literary thoughts, and the best travel memoir. A Reading Diary ranges from reflections on much-loved writers — Margaret Atwood, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, Cervantes — to seductive introductions to others about whom you will want to know more, such as Sei Shonagon and Adolfo Bioy Casares, simultaneously providing insights into the world of today, its changing seasons and pleasures, its shifting politics and wars — all illuminated by the great novel he is reading at the time.

A Reading Diary is a walk through a year’s worth of best beloved books in the company of an eclectically learned friend. Touching on themes of home and wandering, memory and loss, Alberto Manguel perfectly traces the threads between our reading and our lived experience.

Excerpt from A Reading Diary:
June
Saturday
We have been in our house in France for just over a year, and already I have to leave, to visit my family in Buenos Aires. I don’t want to go. I want to enjoy the village in summer, the garden, the house kept cool by the thick ancient walls. I want to start setting up the books on the shelves we have just had built. I want to sit in my room and work.

On the plane, I pull out a copy of Adolfo Bioy Casares’s The Invention of Morel, the tale of a man stranded on an island that is apparently inhabited by ghosts, a book I read for the first time thirty, thirty-five years ago. . . .



From the Hardcover edition.

READ AN EXCERPT

Foreword

“ . . . that we must laboriously seek the meaning of each word and line, conjecturing a larger sense than common use permits out of what wisdom and valour and generosity we have.”
—Thoreau, Walden

“Like every person of good taste, Menard abominated such...
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PRAISE FOR

"Reading the Diary is a perfect tonic for our hurried, over-stressed lives. And once you have closed the covers on Manguel’s 12 literary months, you’ll wish you could return for 12 more."
Toronto Star

"A celebration of the joys to be garnered between the covers of books, and a candid commentary on the countless surprises of daily life. A Reading Diary is a book lover’s delight. It demands a sequel."
The London Free Press

"Manguel . . . is an amiable, warm-hearted companion, sharing views of literature, words sketches of friends, list of likes and dislikes, all spiced up with unexpected insights into books and life."
The Edmonton Journal

"Alberto Manguel has probably read more widely than almost anyone else now alive. Among English speakers, perhaps only Harold Bloom, George Steiner and Guy Davenport may outclass him — and they are all 20 years his senior, and long-time university teachers, to boot: In short, Manguel’s approach to books remains resolutely that of an amateur, one who loves with the pure joy sometimes denied the more scholarly."
The Globe and Mail

"The chance to eavesdrop on his raw reflections on some of his favourite books is a rare treat."
The Telegram

"
One of the wonderful things about A Reading Diary is that it urges, even demands, that the reader make up his own list of 10 or 12 books worthy of rereading."
The Telegram

"Manguel makes wonderful connections between his chosen texts and a host of others. He’s also a playful reader, enjoying the ways different writers use words to explore a host of different ideas, emotions, and passions, while trying to help his own readers find their own special and unique connections to books."
Quill & Quire

"A Reading Diary is an utterly seductive book, the kind of book that lovers will want to read aloud to one another, that friends will quote back and forth."
The Calgary Herald

"Elegantly elliptical and wryly contemporary…thoughtful and joyfully postmodern… Manguel’s exquisitely distilled style and gentle humility are pure pleasure. His diary is a gold mine of the unexpected, and his companionable, deeply cultivated persona will entrance all those who love to read and to ponder."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Praise for Alberto Manguel:

"Manguel is not only a gentleman and a scholar but a gentleman as a scholar, offering constellations of connected readings and insights with grace, humour and tact."
The New Yorker

"It is almost startling, on the brink of the millennium, to discover a writer who believes in literature so thoroughly."
The Times Literary Supplement


From the Hardcover edition.