"The History of Reading is eclectic."
I imagine if you're reading this, you like to read. Good job! Argentine writer Alberto Manguel's book is a history in the loosest sense; more free-wheeling, personal, and impressionistic essay than linear history, which isn't a bad thing, but it does lack focus. Still, it's full of great anecdotes and quotations, spans the globe and the centuries, and is handsomely illustrated. Also, Manguel knew Borges! Also check out "The Gutenberg Elegies."
"The association of books with their readers is unlike any other between objects and their users."
Manguel's style is free-flowing easily segueing from one historical period to another while exploring a single theme such as being read to. This is no history textbook moving in an inexorable march from early texts to modern reading, but instead a slow and enjoyable meandering from one time period to another in the beginnings of an exploration of this act is only of interest to those who are already readers themselves. Favourite chapters included those on women as readers and forbidden reading. An enjoyable read, Manguel's book is a small foray into the history of an act that continues far beyond the last page.
Noted Argentine writer Alberto Manguel takes us on a journey through time and geography to explore a single topic: reading. From drawn symbols on ancient clay tablets in the Middle East to the typed words in the books on your nightstand, the ability to read is something that every culture has in common. Whether ancient tribesmen are reading the pictures they?ve drawn on cave walls or you are reading this paragraph, reading?which Manguel defines as interpreting the meaning of signs or symbols?is something every human can do. And the history of reading is fascinating. Manguel does not tell this history from start to end; he jumps around in time and leaps across continents, telling an anecdote here or a explaining a myth there. From Princess Enheduanna, one of the very few women to read in 2300 B.C. Mesopotamia, to acclaimed author Jorge Luis Borges, who Manguel himself read to when the writer went blind, Manguel shares the lives of the world?s readers. He explores the role of libraries throughout the ages. He profiles great authors and writers. Most of all, Manguel celebrates how every individual reader recreates the written word with his or her own unique experiences and imagination. Filled with photographs and illustrations that highlight ancient and modern readers alike, A History of Reading is an illuminating look at the deceptively simple act of reading.
Readers take reading for granted - but not after reading this. Great for anyone who likes social histories like "Salt" by Mark Kurlansky.
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