Packing My Library
A best-selling author and world-renowned bibliophile meditates on his vast personal library and champions the vital role of all libraries In June 2015 Alberto Manguel prepared to leave his centuries-old village home in France’s Loire Valley and reestablish himself in a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Packing up his enormous, 35,000‑volume personal library, choosing which books to keep, store, or cast out, Manguel found himself in deep reverie on the nature of relationships between books and readers, books and collectors, order and disorder, memory and reading. In this poignant and personal reevaluation of his life as a reader, the author illuminates the highly personal art of reading and affirms the vital role of public libraries.   Manguel’s musings range widely, from delightful reflections on the idiosyncrasies of book lovers to deeper analyses of historic and catastrophic book events, including the burning of ancient Alexandria’s library and contemporary library lootings at the hands of ISIS. With insight and passion, the author underscores the universal centrality of books and their unique importance to a democratic, civilized, and engaged society.

Packing My Library Details

TitlePacking My Library
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 20th, 2018
PublisherYale University Press
ISBN-139780300219333
Rating
GenreWriting, Books About Books, Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Essays, Biography

Packing My Library Review

  • Kris
    January 1, 1970
    Excerpt: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2...
  • Nicole Beaudry
    January 1, 1970
    Cher M. Manguel,I think I might be in love with you. It's possible that that's an exaggeration, but if it is, it's only slight. You've captured, perfectly, the aboutness of reading, of being a reader, and of being an owner of books. I, too, am a many-book-owning librarian, and I know that that's a funny thing. But in this, a love letting to owning books, to picking up a sheaf of well-thumbed, bound pages, and finding not only a familiar story but a familiar time, place, drop of orange juice from Cher M. Manguel,I think I might be in love with you. It's possible that that's an exaggeration, but if it is, it's only slight. You've captured, perfectly, the aboutness of reading, of being a reader, and of being an owner of books. I, too, am a many-book-owning librarian, and I know that that's a funny thing. But in this, a love letting to owning books, to picking up a sheaf of well-thumbed, bound pages, and finding not only a familiar story but a familiar time, place, drop of orange juice from breakfast at your grandmother's kitchen table, tears along the sternum of the book between chapters two and three, you have articulated perfectly why the ownership of books, and their absence, can be such an emotional thing. I also very much enjoyed your digressions, which were as informative as they were charming, slipping perfectly within the notched out spaces in your story. The final section on what a national library can be, should be, was the most powerful for me. Nailed it.Re. the usual review things: lucid, luminous writing, a careful unpacking of feelings that never feels overwhelming but always feels deep enough, and a meticulously crafted narrative interspersed with contextualizing digressions on readership and ownership. Worth the read if you're a librarian, a reader, a book lover, or breathing.Merci bien pour quelques heures passées tranquillement, avec un livre extraordinaire.
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  • Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
    January 1, 1970
    Another nonfiction title. A beautiful and slender but dense and enormously digressive volume about our relationships with libraries, books, and the world of the storytelling imagination in general, as seen through the eyes of someone who made a decision to move to another country and in order to do so had to pack up his vast, decades-long library of 35,000 books and put most of it in storage. Subtitled AN ELEGY AND TEN DIGRESSIONS, it should really be called TEN DIGRESSIONS AND AN ELEGY, as the Another nonfiction title. A beautiful and slender but dense and enormously digressive volume about our relationships with libraries, books, and the world of the storytelling imagination in general, as seen through the eyes of someone who made a decision to move to another country and in order to do so had to pack up his vast, decades-long library of 35,000 books and put most of it in storage. Subtitled AN ELEGY AND TEN DIGRESSIONS, it should really be called TEN DIGRESSIONS AND AN ELEGY, as the digressions soon dominate the main strand. Readers of Manguel will see him returning to some of his favorites and obsessions. The interstitial historical material is interesting but somewhat haphazard. A bit of tighter editing could have really heightened the overall impact. Sometimes Manguel's esoteric generalizations and tendency towards the Borgesian become a bit tiresome, but he can't ever be accused of thinking shallowly.
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  • Beverly Hollandbeck
    January 1, 1970
    As he is packing his library of 35,000 books, the author muses on his history with books, with digressions to consider the philosophy of creating, the inadequacy of the written word to express reality (and this from a man who speaks and writes in several languages!), the nature of reality, and other ideas. Deep thoughts.
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