“Every book, good or bad, has its ideal reader.” Alberto Manguel’s writes about the value and joy of reading. In A Reader on Reading are the themes familiar to any Manguel reader: the art of reading and writing well, the richness of libraries, the coupling of politics and literature. This volume gathers together thirty nine essays from myriad sources. Some are sombre, such as the powerful essays on censorship and AIDs; others on the origin of the full-stop and defining the ideal reader are lighter. Each of these essays is thought provoking and display the profundity of an erudite, wise reader and writer.
It may be that, of all the instruments we have invented to help us along the path of self-discovery, books are the most useful, the most practical, the most concrete. By lending words to our bewildering experience, books become compasses that embody the four cardinal points: mobility and stability, self-reflection and the gift of looking outward. The old metaphor that sees the world as a book we read and in which we too are read merely recognises this guiding, all-encompassing quality.