The Literary Horizon: A History of Reading, The Polysyllabic Spree

I love books about books; I love and adore metafiction (by the way, why aren’t you reading The Unwritten?) and I always enjoy a good piece of literary criticism. But sometimes I just like to curl up with a book that recommends other books—that’s how this whole thing started in 2009, by the way. Today, we’re looking at nonfiction books about books—incidentally, they came to me via Erin of Erin Reads.

A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel

As someone who keeps a commonplace book, I’m well aware that people have read differently throughout the ages—but I don’t know much beyond that, and Manguel’s A History of Reading sounds like the perfect thing to fix that when Erin mentioned it recently.

Rick at ricklibrarian loved it, pointing out that it’s not so much a history of reading as a history of readers, which sounds equally as fascinating. While Eva has mentioned that she’s loved it, she’s never reviewed it for her book blog; but Eva has fantastic taste, so I trust her.

A History of Reading was published on October 1, 1997.

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

I’ve heard good things about Hornby, but The Polysyllabic Spree interests me more than his fiction. I stumbled across this at my local Books-a-Million looking for book recommendations (which usually turns out into me shaking my head at the lack of speculative fiction at some lists), but didn’t add it until Erin mentioned it as one of her favorite books.

Ana at things mean a lot loved it, especially the fact that Nick Hornby is unabashedly one of us—us being voracious readers with very long reading lists. And, of course, Erin adored it, citing Hornby’s wit and style.

The Polysyllabic Spree was published on November 30, 2004.

8 thoughts on “The Literary Horizon: A History of Reading, The Polysyllabic Spree

  1. If I ever do start reading Manguel (I don’t know what’s taking me so long!), A History of Reading is probably what I’ll pick up. It’s the one that sounds most like a book I’d pick up based on its subject matter, if I didn’t already want to read something by that author. (If that makes sense.)

  2. The Spree is pretty much my all-time favourite book about books. Love Nick Hornby so much. And I really want to read A History of Reading! Manguel’s The Library at Night was excellent.

  3. All three of Hornby’s books about books are great. Well worth reading, and dangerously addicting, so its a shame when they are over. Thankfully he is back doing columns for The Believer magazine which (hopefully) means more of these collected essays in the future.

    I’ve read his YA book Slam (great!) and his latest adult book Juliet, Naked (disappointing).

    As for books about books (and other things) I would also recommend two books by Anne Fadiman: Ex Libris, and At Large At Small. If you haven’t read them you are in for a treat.

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