The Library by Stuart Kells

The Library

Libraries are filled with magic. From the Bodleian, the Folger and the Smithsonian to the fabled libraries of middle earth, Umberto Eco’s mediaeval library labyrinth and libraries dreamed up by John Donne, Jorge Luis Borges and Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Stuart Kells explores the bookish places, real and fictitious, that continue to capture our imaginations.The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders is a fascinating and engaging exploration of libraries as p...

Details The Library

TitleThe Library
Release DateAug 28th, 2017
PublisherText Publishing
GenreNonfiction, History, Writing, Books About Books

Reviews The Library

  • Jill Hutchinson
    I always thought I was a bibliophile but this book tells me that I am not since I am not familiar, nor particularly interested, with the contents of stone tablets or any BCE and early CE writings on vellum. parchment, et al. So much of the book is dedicated to those eras that it became a real slog for me to get through it.The author also jumps around all over recorded time and does not take the story of the creation of libraries in a chronologica...
  • Kristin
    Imagine going into a library you've never been to before to find something to read.Some of the books are shelved in order of publication; except when they're not.Others shelves share a common subject; except when don't.There's no card catalog or database to help you find what you want in this mess and the librarians won't tell you where the books have come from.That's what this book is. It has no index, no cited sources, no narrative focus, and n...
  • Sue Gerhardt Griffiths
    I’m sure I have never come across a non-fiction book covering such an extensive amount of research on the history of libraries. Amazing! Oh, I do love my books but I can’t say I’m addicted or obsessed in buying or collecting books as some of these collectors were centuries ago. The mind boggles at the extent some collectors went to to acquire books but they also gave me a good laugh.This book will appeal to anyone who is an obsessive collec...
  • Carlos
    Good book and good information here but its mostly anecdotal and about famous people that happened to like libraries through history. Great for a light read and for some historical facts related to libraries , not for a in depth study of the state of libraries as such.
  • Text Publishing
    ‘The Library abounds in fascinating tales of lost codices and found manuscripts, and the sometimes unscrupulous schemes by which people have conspired to obtain or amass valuable volumes.’ New York Times‘I had been half expecting some sort of slide show, featuring gorgeous libraries of the world, but it’s not that kind of book. It’s more about the human drama of libraries, with gossip alongside anecdotes about the history of libraries....
  • David Eppenstein
    I have a thing for books. Not just the reading of them but the physical existence of them; the possession of them; the sight of them; the smell, the weight, the texture. I really like my books. So when I came across this little gem there was no question as to its purchase. I added it to my "Books About Books" shelf to be read another day. That day recently arrived and I'd like to tell you what I discovered.I can't really say what I expected from ...
  • Diana
    I went to a talk by this author at my local library and enjoyed this so bought signed copies of this book for a friend, my boss and myself. For that reason I was hoping this book would be good. I did enjoy most of it but with some reservations. Some of it was a little highbrow for my taste and read like lists of authors, scholars and libraries. When the author introduced anecdotal stories of libraries, authors and book collectors etc.. I liked it...
  • Bethany Kok
    A totally unstructured amble through the history of books and libraries, full of name-dropping and unexplained references. I should have stopped when I realized there were no citations or footnotes. The author barely touches on non-Western libraries but devotes more than a chapter to Tolkien's treatment of books and libraries in Middle Earth. Paragraphs are awkwardly linked and feature segues only a hair less clumsy and lurching than "speaking of...
  • Diane Challenor
    I enjoyed every word in this book. It’s a treasure!
  • Bonnie
    I really wanted to like this book more than I did. It was a gift from a friend, from halfway around the world. It's signed by the author. It's about libraries! What's not to like? Unfortunately, the book was rather dry and erudite for my tastes. Interesting or amusing anecdotes scattered throughout the book kept me reading, but it felt really disjointed overall, like the author was listing examples without expounding on them. The book would've be...
  • Tundra
    3 1/2 stars. Thanks to Goodreads and Text Publishing for my copy. What I liked best about this book were the quirky anecdotes about libraries and the bibliophiles who created them and what I struggled with was the vast amount of detail and dates and the rapidity in which they were delivered. I understand it’s a vast topic but I just can’t absorb that amount of detail. Most of all though I wanted pictures (maybe it’s just the visual learner ...
  • Angelique Simonsen
    an unexpected delight though dry at times. I learnt the best fact ever though....that the Bodelian library and I were born on the same day 381 years apart! Must be fate that I am a librarian lol
  • Todd
    I approached Stuart Kells’ “The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders” warily. A book about books and book collecting? As much as I love books, I had little desire to lose myself in 250-odd pages about ancients, eccentrics and the vagaries of printing if the narrator came off as too pleased with himself, as bibliophiles sometimes do. (Listen, I resemble that remark.) Even the publishing business could be made dull, as I found with Robert Gottlieb...
  • Jennifer (JC-S)
    ‘Every library has an atmosphere, even a spirit.’My own love affair with libraries started well over half a century ago. The libraries of my youth were places of magic, of possibilities to be explored. They were also places of refuge. But what are libraries, and how have they evolved over the centuries? In this book, Stuart Kells writes about libraries (both fictitious and real) and their influence on individuals, on literature and on culture...
  • Luc Brien
    I first heard of this book while listening to an interview with Stuart Kells on Radio National, and I was so excited to see a copy in my local library. When I got it home and started to read it, however, I soon realised that this book was not for me. It's not so much a "catalogue of wonders" as it is a list of things that happened, some of which took place in libraries.While there are definitely some interesting library facts in here (the re-evol...
  • Anne Fenn
    A fascinating read. Packed so full of interesting facts and figures about libraries, my head couldn't take them all in. Stuart Kells is an Australian booklover, and I often noted a little thread to Australia pop up in places all over the world. I liked that. He begins with Australian Indigenous peoples' form of library, then moves historically through many of the world's libraries, right up to modern times. There's a big emphasis on collectors of...
  • Nina
    A history of libraries! How could one resist? Parts of this were a trifle dull (like chronological lists of bequests to the Vatican Library), but other parts were highly interesting. I was kept busy looking up images of famous libraries he mentioned and they are fabulous palaces. I liked his recognition of the sensory impact that books have: their feel and smell (there was one series of young people books in my childhood that smelled like formald...
  • Jasmine
    I received a copy of this book by way of a Goodreads Giveaway and was initially interested in it due to the Australian link and, also, because I too love libraries. I didn't, however, find it to be the 'catalogue of wonders' it promised to be. The author is clearly a highly educated, scholarly person with a deep understanding of both libraries and books. While I was impressed at his wealth of knowledge on the subject of libraries, I personally fo...
  • Natalie Romano
    4.5/5. This book provides a delightful survey of library history. Kells is a masterful storyteller, weaving together bookish anecdotes and fascinating data about libraries spanning from the Villa of the Papyri to J.P. Morgan's extensive illuminated manuscript collection. Serious scholars and recreational library users alike will appreciate Kells's thoughtful treatment of libraries - conceptual, physical, and fantastic - as institutions of social,...
  • Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
    Loved it! But, big surprise, I loved a book about books and the houses they live in.Full review to come!+++++++++++++++++My full review can be found at: https://allthebookblognamesaretaken.b...
  • victor harris
    Not many " Wonders" in this. Some interesting and entertaining anecdotes but reads more like a list of books and how they were destroyed or stolen. No consistent story line, more pieced together segments.
  • Phoebe
    Anecdotal rather than comprehensive, this book is for readers who like serendipity. Kells includes wonderful bits of library lore (and from all kinds of libraries, private, public, Medieval, fantasy) and book collecting trivia. The segments on the evolution of the Folger Library and Tolkien's concept of the library as a symbol of civilization were particularly intriguing. Don't pick this up expecting a linear history of libraries. Kells' devotion...
  • Jill
    This book promised much but was disappointing because of lengthy lists of books and authors and a lack of coherence. Some anecdotes were amusing but the author too often wandered off on tangents leaving me lost and frustrated.
  • JW
    If you like libraries and books this may satisfy an itch. The last half of the book was more interesting to me than the first. Oddly there's a long section on Tolkein's writing and publishing of The Hobbit and LOTR that seems out of place but interesting nonetheless.
  • stephanie suh
    Libraries are more than boring stockpiles of books gathered, banal depositories of books collected frequented by socially gawky individuals we love to call “nerds” or “misfits.” They are symbolic fortresses of our human cultural progresses as a collective institution. In fact, libraries are precious repositories of our cultural wealth and knowledge inherited from the forerunners of the Humanities with prescient intentions to preserve the ...
  • Joe
    Interesting,historical look at libraries, a bit dry but worth the read. Maybe because I love libraries.
  • Rachel
    *I received this book from Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review*This wasnt for me but I did appreciate how much hard work has gone into this book and I thank the author for a copy of this. It wasnt bad, its just not my style. Its packed with alot of information and some of the things talked about were interesting.
  • Pop Bop
    Like A Collected Series of Idiosyncratic, Themed LecturesThis is an engaging, wide-ranging, sometimes repetitive collection of thoughts, observations, and personal opinions regarding books, book making, libraries, book collecting, printing, paper manufacture, fictional libraries, shelving, and, especially, private libraries through the ages. If you might give some thought to dropping by on a Friday night at McCosh 10 to catch a lecture by that ol...
  • Carol
    Despite the title, this book is not about The Library as a concept, but about scattered collections of books of interest to the author. He goes into great detail on the numbers of volumes acquired by the Vatican Library but has relatively little if anything of other great libraries. National libraries from the Library of Congress to the British Library get scant mention while individuals’ collections of books are described in detail. The author...