It described itself on the back as 'a synesthetic novel' (or possibly 'synaesthetic'), was a short work of fiction (a very slender volume), and seemed to be from a small publisher, possibly self-published, likely released after 1999.
The young man's body is taken to a main building, where his body is gutted, restuffed with books and reanimated. Unaware, he's then set on a task by the head monk to learn the secrets of a magician/important man in a distant city. He ventures out to this city, ending up at some sort of strange bookdealer's place (books were involved, not sure that was the actual occupation). The man and his daughter were involved with some sort of secret society...recollections grow vauge here...at some point the young man wanders into a nearby forest/place outside the city and encounters local lizards who he's able to communicate with.
The man he's seeking has the ability to take animals preserved in formaldehyde and somehow inhale/experience their experiences and memories. The man's using this as more of a novelty, but the young man's been tasked with learning this skill to eventually acquire the knowledge of several people/monks in the city. As the young man goes around gaining the knowledge, he becomes increasingly gaunt and eventually stops eating altogether; the girl and her father are trying to help him, and the ending is ambiguous, with the young man upon gaining the last piece of knowledge possibly dying or somehow gaining paradise.