This is nonfiction, a sort of history meets personal essay of 372 pages counting the index and notes, 319 pages sans, with plenty of illustrations.
This book was a joy to read, a hymn of praise to the very act of reading. It focuses on that specifically, the act of reading, and it's amazing the amount of information there is to be had. There was some overlap with the history of books, history of writing, etc., but only in passing. It's really all about reading. There was a lot of information that I'd never come across before that seems to have been included just because it was interesting, and that was fine with me!
The book is organized in two main sections, "Acts of Reading" and "Powers of the Reader." There are chapter headings like "Learning to Read," "The Silent Readers," "Ordainers of the Universe," and "The Author as Reader." So instead of a moving through a chronological timeline, Manguel brings us into a much more organic narrative that actually resembles the way we read books. We skip back and forth between similar things, follow tangents that only make sense to us readers. We pause to meditate on single thoughts, and dash along through topics that aren't as mesmerizing.
Manguel draws us into what feels a very intimate group, tracing readers down through history all the way to us. It's a reassuring book; because reading is such a private affair it can seem lonely, but rest assured there are a gazillion other readers who have loved just the same things about their books as we do about ours. A History of Reading was informative, while remaining informal and very enjoyable.
I post weekly reviews of books in all genres, though I have a special affinity for fantasy and YA. Reviews are posted on Fridays or shortly thereafter, are spoiler-free or clearly marked, and feature recommendations for similar books near the end of the review. I make an effort to give exposure to books that are not already highly publicized and/or are not brand new. If you're passing out review copies and think I might like your book, email me!
My name is Fatalis Fortuna, Fate for short. I am currently a student and a part-time librarian. When I'm not working, I occupy myself with all things fictional, be they in print, on television, or on the silver screen; my two cats, Amontillado (after "The Cask of Amontillado," of course), and Alice (after Alice in Wonderland,); and my novel-in-progress, which is of course the next Great American Novel. To my knowledge it will be the first Great American Novel that is YA urban fantasy, and for this I will become both famous and rich. I've been published in both regional magazines and national magazines (Teen Ink, anyone?), but have not yet cracked the professional market.
Feel free to ask for a list of books in my BookMooch inventory. They're there because I want to give them away, don't be shy.