BOOK REVIEW: The Library A Catalogue of Wonders by Stuart Kells

The Blurb (from Goodreads):

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 places of beauty and wonder. It’s a celebration of books as objects and an account of the deeply personal nature of these hallowed spaces by one of Australia’s leading bibliophiles.

My Thoughts:

This is a fascinating compendium of lore about libraries and bibliophiles, both historical and imagined. Rather than being a dry chronological account of the history of libraries, this book meanders through time and place, following the author’s whimsy. Consequently it visits such famous libraries as the Bodleian and the Folger, as well as invented libraries such as Umberto Eco’s mediaeval library in The Name of the Rose and Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s cemetery of forgotten books.


It is probably of greatest interest to serious book collectors, like Stuart Kells himself, though there’s plenty for any lover of books & libraries to enjoy.


‘Much more than accumulations of books, the best libraries are hotspots and organs of civilisation; magical places in which students, scholars, curators, philanthropists, artists, pranksters and flirts come together and make something marvellous,’ Kell writes. An apt description for this book too.

You might also like to read my review of The Reading Cure by Laura Freeman:

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