“The Library At Night”

Wallace Stevens wrote a famous poem,Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird. Argentine born, French writer Alberto Manguel explores fifteen ways of thinking about a library in his 2006 book The Library at Night. I encountered this title in the international book group I mentioned a few posts back and found it at my local library.

Manguel delineates many ways that one can think about a library, from a system of order to a spatial arrangement on to a place of chance and through twelve more reflections on a collection of books. I enjoyed thinking about my own book collections, libraries I have known, my reading habits and the books in my childhood.

I have always lived surrounded by books, filling shelves, balancing by my bedside, piled alongside the bed, and basically occupying any horizontal surface wherever I have lived. As I read I frequently found myself thinking “I am not the only one.” I am not the only one who can’t find the one book I am looking for. I am not the only one who doesn’t finish every book I begin. I am not the only one still searching for a way to organize my shelves. I am not the only one who, no matter how frequently I try to pare down my library, still has books crammed willy-nilly on shelves already full.

A thoughtful and original series of reflections on owning, storing and reading books, the title should appeal to any bibliophile out there.

25 thoughts on ““The Library At Night”

  1. I on the other hand – has parted with many books in the last year – some because they didn’t fit in with my ideals but some I knew others would like to read, all the books have gone to the op-shop. I’ve kept a few but for now all reading takes place via online services.

    And not MUCH until last night when I read 3/4 of a book via my library service and finished it this morning…it’s been months since I did that. I found it quite easy so I’m planning to try and read more…need to decide later today which title appeals after I’ve sampled a few…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe the full word is “opportunity shop” but here in NZ we tend to shorten big words… or it might be deemed a “secondhand shop” or depending on the charity brand – “hospice op shop” “Dove op shop” Salvation op shop (Sallies)”

      Secondhand shop usually designates more furniture but all often have a small selection – and again it often had to do with size of the floor space…

      They are popular kind of shops, people have been known to find priceless objects for a song…


  2. I find such peace in the library. Appallingly, our mayor is shutting down all of the libraries in Birmingham due to COVID because (no one is going there???) He has no clue of the life-line books are to some and that the library is working diligently to provide the curb side and even delivery service to provide that service to the city. (clue-less)


  3. My shelves have been overflowing so I had to do some thinning out. I was thrilled to see a new bookstore opening nearby looking to buy books so I sold a box full. Once they open there will be store credits available so I’ll also be able to resupply. 😊


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