A History Of Reading

Front Cover
Knopf Canada, Nov 13, 2012 - Literary Criticism
2 Reviews
In this marvelous book, acclaimed around the world, Alberto Manguel takes us on a fascinating exploration of what it means to be a reader of books. A History of Reading is a brilliant reminder of why we cherish the act of reading—despite distractions throughout the ages, from the Inquisition to the lures of cyberspace. He shows us what happens when we read; who we become; and how reading teaches us how to live. He reminds us that we live in books as well as among them—how we find our own stories in books, and traces of our lives. He shows us how our reading habits have developed over the centuries, and how, ever since humans first transcribed their thoughts and deeds on clay and papyrus, the act of reading is itself a part of being human.

Alberto Manguel is a lover of reading, and he brings a lover’s delight and enthusiasm to his history of reading. His stories take us across a breathtaking range of time and experiences. From the invention of the reader to Pliny the Younger’s first lip-synch in history; from the moment when Alexander the Great’s conquering army watched, amazed, as their captain read a letter from his mother—but silently—to himself!—to reading clubs in medieval France; from the Great Camel Library of the Grand Vizir of Persia, who trained his camels to walk in alphabetical order, to the ancient delights of bedroom reading and the modern horrors of book burning in Nazi Germany; from cuneiform  and codexes to the invention of printing and to Penguins; from the creation of eyeglasses to the hypnotics of hypertext—the story of reading is laid open here for our pleasure.

What people are saying - Write a review

A history of reading

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Writer, translator, and editor Manguel (In Another Part of the Forest, LJ 6/15/94) has produced a personal and original book on reading. In 22 chapters, we find out such things as how scientists ... Read full review

Review: A History of Reading

User Review  - MD Hudson - Goodreads

The problem with all books about reading is that they tend to get somewhat self-regarding, too self-conscious. As for this one, I stopped reading this about halfway through about a year ago. Sometimes ... Read full review


The Silent Readers
The Book of Memory
Learning to Read
The Missing First
Being Read To The Shape of the Book

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

Alberto Manguel was born in Buenos Aires, lived in Italy, France, England and Tahiti, and came to Canada in 1982. He has an international reputation as an anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist and editor of great gifts.


Bibliographic information