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The Library

The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders

Stuart Kells

  • awardShortlisted, NSW Premier's History Awards: General History Prize, 2018
  • awardLonglisted, Nib Waverley Library Literary Award, 2018
  • 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.

    Read an extract in the Australian Financial Review
    Read a piece by Stuart Kells, ‘Great Book Finds, and The One That Got Away’, on Catapult 
    Read a piece by Stuart Kells on the writing of The Library in the Guardian
    Read an extract in the Canberra Times 
    Read a guest post by Stuart Kells, Loudest Libraries, on the Wheeler Centre Blog 


    New Daily
    ABC Conversations with Richard Fidler 
    Stuart Kells at ANU


    AU Review
    Australian Book Review
    New York Times 
    Washington Post ($) 

    Stuart Kells
    About the Author

    Stuart Kells is an author and book-trade historian. His 2015 book Penguin and the Lane Brothers won the Ashurst Business Literature Prize. An authority on rare books, he has written and published on many aspects of print culture and the book world. Stuart lives in Melbourne with his family.

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    Text publication date:
    28 August 2017
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    Praise for Stuart Kells
    andThe Library

    ‘If you think you know what a library is, this marvellously idiosyncratic book will make you think again. After visiting hundreds of libraries around the world and in the realm of imagination, bibliophile and rare-book collector Stuart Kells has compiled an enchanting compendium of well-told tales and musings both on the physical and metaphysical dimensions of these multi-storied places.’

    ‘Almost like poetry, a rich ode to all things books and everything we love about them. The enjoyment and engagement is so palpable you can almost taste it and Kells proves to be the perfect guide through the subject matter and history.’

    The Library charts the transition between formats such as papyrus scrolls, parchment codices, moveable type and ebooks. There are many whimsical detours along the way, and Kells even devotes a chapter to fantasy libraries…Kells translates his stunning depth of research into breezy digestibility.’

    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.’

    The Library is a treasure trove and reaching the last page simply prompts an impassioned cry for more of the same.’

    ‘Rich with gossipy tales of the inspired, crazy, brilliant and terrible people who have founded or encountered libraries through history…Kells’s reflections are wonderfully romantic, wryly funny…There’s no doubt we can all learn a lot from the magnificently obsessive and eloquent Kells.’ 

    ‘With The Library, Stuart Kells has written a deft and involving book that manages to balance the erudite with the accessible…There is, in any given chapter, a dozen odd details or compelling stories a reader can only hope to memorise, with an eye towards future use (perfectly timed and skilfully deployed, naturally).’

    ‘There is so much to learn and enjoy in this book, with the impressive amount of research never weighing down the accessible writing…Kells makes an elegant plea for the future library—one that will resonate with most book lovers.’

    ‘A sprightly cabinet of bookish curiosities.’

    ‘Kells proves a generous guide, taking us on a whirlwind tour through several thousand years of book history.’

    ‘On a vivid tour of the world’s great libraries, both real and imagined, Kells is a magnificent guide to the abundant treasures he sets out.’

    ‘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.’

    Other editions ofThe Library
    • The Library
      ISBN: 9781925410365
      28 August 2017
      Buy ebook