A reading blog you can hold in your hand

January 5, 2007

A Reading Diary by Alberto Manguel is a fascinating blog in print. Alberto rereads a dozen of his favorite books over the period of a year, and relates them to his daily life and memories. The diary is filled with delightful digressions of his own as well as other authors- authors that are well know and authors that are rarely read. His plan in his own words-

“A couple of years ago, after my 53rd birthday, I decided to reread a few of my favorite old books, and I was struck, once again, by how their many-layered and complex worlds of the past seemed to reflect the dismal chaos of the world I was living in. A passage in a novel would suddenly illuminate an article in the daily paper; a half forgotten episode would be recalled by a certain scene; a single word would prompt a long reflection. I decided to keep a record of those moments.

It occurred to me then that, rereading a book a month, I might complete, in a year, something of a personal diary and a commonplace book; a volume of notes, reflections, impressions of travel, sketches of friends, of events public and private, all elicited by my reading. I made a list of what the chosen books would be. It seemed important, for balance, that there be a little of everything.”

This is one of those books that you can pick up at any time and read a chapter, or a page. The chapters are simply titled by month, and sectioned off by days of the week, or points during the day- each documenting a thought or a moment or a meaningful quote. I love this type of book. The books chosen are eclectic, as intended. But it is not the books themselves that seem important- but the impact on the thoughts and life of the author and those in his life.

One of the books- The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas, described as “the perfect book to read when it is raining,” prompting this observation-

“I imagine a volume of memoirs in the style of one of those bookbags that travelers used to carry with them centuries ago. An account of my life through the books I have read in the places I have visited. A task for my afterlife.”

The same volume prompted this quote from Sterne in Tristram Shandy.

“Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine; – they are the life, the soul of reading; – take them out of this book for instance, – you might as well take the book along with them.”

This quote alone increased my anticipation to read Tristram Shandy- I picked up an old Heritage Press copy on eBay this week.

This book is a joy to read and could easily serve as something of a manual for book-bloggers. If you like this type of book, I highly recommend this one.


3 Responses to “A reading blog you can hold in your hand”

  1. sulz Says:

    sounds interesting. is it really a blog turned into a book, or just a journal-styled book?


  2. Brad Says:

    Hi Sulz,

    It is just a journal-styled book, but the style and format are no different than a blog. I enjoy reading books and blogs in which the author relates events and memories of his or her life with bits of a book being read.

    Thanks for the comment- you are my first!!

  3. Dorothy W. Says:

    Oh, do read Tristram Shandy — I love that book! And I’ve got Manguel’s book on my shelves; I’m looking forward to getting to it one of these days.

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