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Extended Audio Sample Curiosity, by Alberto Manguel Click for printable size audiobook cover
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Curiosity has been seen through the ages as the impulse that drives our knowledge forward and the temptation that leads us toward dangerous and forbidden waters. The question “Why?” has appeared under a multiplicity of guises and in vastly different contexts throughout the chapters of human history. Why does evil exist? What is beauty? How does language inform us? What defines our identity? What is our responsibility to the world? In Alberto Manguel’s most personal book to date, the author tracks his own life of curiosity through the reading that has mapped his way.

Manguel chooses as his guides a selection of writers who sparked his imagination. He dedicates each chapter to a single thinker, scientist, artist, or other figure who demonstrated in a fresh way how to ask “Why?” Leading us through a full gallery of inquisitives, among them Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Lewis Carroll, Rachel Carson, Socrates, and, most importantly, Dante, Manguel affirms how deeply connected our curiosity is to the readings that most astonish us, and how essential to the soaring of our own imaginations.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Reading Mr. Manguel is like taking a city walk or an unhurried meal with an erudite, cosmopolitan friend…Few cultures or historical periods are closed to him. He hops knowledgeably and divertingly from topic to topic. Yet he never strays far from his true interest, reading itself.”


  • “Elegant and erudite, his book is a celebration of critical reading—a challenging, enjoyable, and essential craft that is in danger these days of becoming a lost art.”

    Psychology Today

  • “Manguel’s work contains seventeen erudite meditations on humanity’s great existential questions, framed within Dante’s journey through hell in the classic Inferno…Manguel’s meditations will appeal to a niche readership of the intellectually curious as well as lovers of the classics.”

    Library Journal

  • “For Alberto Manguel reading is a pilgrimage, a secular-sacred encounter with mystery, and a way of reinvigorating the dead. Dante and Montaigne and Pinocchio’s Collodi are his guides and his intimates in this passionate quest for knowledge, but it is the state of inquiry itself and even doubt that define for him the pleasures of curiosity. With his loving, keenly felt, highly enjoyable delving into writers and their writings, Manguel argues for literature’s revelatory illusions, its epiphanies and its testimony.”

    Marina Warner, author of Stranger Magic

  • “This is a dynamic, lively book that leads the reader to appreciate the pleasures and the power of curiosity. In writing its remarkable history Alberto Manguel sees it both as a primary passion and as a force behind all intellectual experiences. In a sort of encyclopedic narrative Manguel journeys over the most distant places…and he invites us to a grand tour of wonders and surprises.”

    Giuseppe Mazzotta, director of graduate studies, Yale University

  • “Manguel travels through books in the same way he travels through various countries. He meets new friends and asks questions of them about himself, and about life. In a style which is all his own, he delights us with the unlimited bounds of human curiosity.”

    Lina Bolzoni, professor of Italian Literature at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa

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About the Author
Author Alberto Manguel

Alberto Manguel is internationally acclaimed as an anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist, and editor; he is also the bestselling author of several award-winning books, including A Dictionary of Imaginary Places and A History of Reading. He was born in Buenos Aires, moved to Canada in 1982, and now lives in France, where he was named an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.