Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

by Anne Fadiman

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Anne Fadiman is—by her own admission—the sort of person who learned about sex from her father's copy of Fanny Hill, whose husband buys her 19 pounds of dusty books for her birthday, and who once found herself poring over her roommate's 1974 Toyota Corolla manual because it was the only written material in the apartment that she had not read at least twice.

This witty collection of essays recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language. For Fadiman, as for many passionate readers, the books she loves have become chapters in her own life story. Writing with remarkable grace, she revives the tradition of the well-crafted personal essay, moving easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family. As someone who played at blocks with her father's 22-volume set of Trollope ("My Ancestral Castles") and who only really considered herself married when she and her husband had merged collections ("Marrying Libraries"), she is exquisitely well equipped to expand upon the art of inscriptions, the perverse pleasures of compulsive proof-reading, the allure of long words, and the satisfactions of reading out loud. There is even a foray into pure literary gluttony—Charles Lamb liked buttered muffin crumbs between the leaves, and Fadiman knows of more than one reader who literally consumes page corners. Perfectly balanced between humor and erudition, Ex Libris establishes Fadiman as one of our finest contemporary essayists.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374527228
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 11/25/2000
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 173,571
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 7.46(h) x 0.48(d)

About the Author

Anne Fadiman is the author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award, an L.A. Times Book Prize, and a Salon Book Award. She is also the author of the essay collection At Large and At Small and the editor of Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love. Her essays and articles have appeared in Harper's, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, among other publications. She is the Francis Writer-in-Residence at Yale.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


A few months ago, my husband and I decided to mix our books together. We had known each other for ten years, lived together for six, been married for five. Our mismatched coffee mugs cohabited amicably; we wore each other's T-shirts and, in a pinch, socks; and our record collections had long ago miscegenated without incident, my Josquin Desprez motets cozying up to George's Worst of Jefferson Airplane, to the enrichment, we believed, of both. But our libraries had remained separate, mine mostly at the north end of our loft, his at the south. We agreed that it made no sense for my Billy Budd to languish forty feet from his Moby-Dick, yet neither of us had lifted a finger to bring them together.

    We had been married in this loft, in full view of our mutually quarantined Melvilles. Promising to love each other for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health—even promising to forsake all others—had been no problem, but it was a good thing the Book of Common Prayer didn't say anything about marrying our libraries and throwing out the duplicates. That would have been a far more solemn vow, one that would probably have caused the wedding to grind to a mortifying halt. We were both writers, and we both invested in our books the kind of emotion most people reserve for their old love letters. Sharing a bed and a future was child's play compared to sharing my copy of The Complete Poems of W. B. Yeats, from which I had once read "Under Ben Bulben" aloud while standing at Yeats's grave in the Drumcliff churchyard, orGeorge's copy of T. S. Eliot's Selected Poems, given to him in the ninth grade by his best friend, Rob Farnsworth, who inscribed it "Best Wishes from Gerry Cheevers." (Gerry Cheevers, one of Rob's nicknames, was the goalie of the Boston Bruins, and the inscription is probably unique, linking T. S. Eliot and ice hockey for the first time in history.)

    Our reluctance to conjugate our Melvilles was also fueled by some essential differences in our characters. George is a lumper. I am a splitter. His books commingled democratically, united under the all-inclusive flag of Literature. Some were vertical, some horizontal, and some actually placed behind others. Mine were balkanized by nationality and subject matter. Like most people with a high tolerance for clutter, George maintains a basic trust in three-dimensional objects. If he wants something, he believes it will present itself, and therefore it usually does. I, on the other hand, believe that books, maps, scissors, and Scotch tape dispensers are all unreliable vagrants, likely to take off for parts unknown, unless strictly confined to quarters. My books, therefore, have always been rigidly regimented.

    After five years of marriage and a child, George and I finally resolved that we were ready for the more profound intimacy of library consolidation. It was unclear, however, how we were to find a meeting point between his English-garden approach and my French-garden one. At least in the short run, I prevailed, on the theory that he could find his books if they were arranged like mine but I could never find mine if they were arranged like his. We agreed to sort by topic—History, Psychology, Nature, Travel, and so on. Literature would be subdivided by nationality. (If George found this plan excessively finicky, at least he granted that it was a damn sight better than the system some friends of ours had told us about. Some friends of theirs had rented their house for several months to an interior decorator. When they returned, they discovered that their entire library had been reorganized by color and size. Shortly thereafter, the decorator met with a fatal automobile accident. I confess that when this story was told, everyone around the dinner table concurred that justice had been served.)

    So much for the ground rules. We ran into trouble, however, when I announced my plan to arrange English literature chronologically but American literature alphabetically by author. My defense went like this: Our English collection spanned six centuries, and to shelve it chronologically would allow us to watch the broad sweep of literature unfold before our very eyes. The Victorians belonged together; separating them would be like breaking up a family. Besides, Susan Sontag arranged her books chronologically. She had told The New York Times that it would set her teeth on edge to put Pynchon next to Plato. So there. Our American collection, on the other hand, was mostly twentieth-century, much of it so recent that chronological distinctions would require Talmudic hairsplitting. Ergo, alphabetization. George eventually caved in, but more for the sake of marital harmony than because of a true conversion. A particularly bad moment occurred while he was in the process of transferring my Shakespeare collection from one bookcase to another and I called out, "Be sure to keep the plays in chronological order!"

    "You mean we're going to be chronological within each author?" he gasped. "But no one even knows for sure when Shakespeare wrote his plays!"

    "Well," I blustered, "we know he wrote Romeo and Juliet before The Tempest. I'd like to see that reflected on our shelves."

    George says that was one of the few times he has seriously contemplated divorce.

Our transfer of books across the Mason-Dixon Line that separated my northern shelves from his southern ones took about a week. Every night we lined up books on the floor, interlarding mine with his before putting them on the shelves, which meant that for a week we had to hopscotch over hundreds of volumes in order to get from bathroom to kitchen to bedroom. We physically handled—fondled, really—every book we owned. Some had inscriptions from old lovers. Some had inscriptions from each other. Some were like time capsules: my Major British Writers contained a list of poets required for my 1970 high-school English final; a postcard with a ten-cent stamp dropped out of George's copy of On the Road.

    As our piles accumulated on the floor, we had several heated debates about not just which books should go together but where they should go. I had lived in the loft for nine years before George moved in, and English literature had always occupied the most public spot, the wall facing the front door. (At the opposite end of the spectrum was a small bookshelf with a door, to the right of my desk, behind which lurked The Zipcode Directory and The Complete Scarsdale Diet.) George thought American literature deserved this place of honor instead. If I agreed to present myself to the world as an acolyte of A. J. Liebling rather than of Walter Pater, I would be admitting that the academic I had once thought I'd be had forever been replaced by the journalist I had become. Deciding that this was the truth and that, furthermore, our entrance wall should represent my husband as well as myself, I capitulated, but with a lump in my throat.


Table of Contents

Marrying Libraries3
The Joy of Sesquipedalians11
My Odd Shelf21
Scorn Not the Sonnet29
Never Do That to a Book37
True Womanhood45
Words on a Flyleaf55
You Are There63
The His'er Problem71
Insert a Caret79
Eternal Ink87
The Literary Glutton95
Nothing New Under the Sun103
The Catalogical Imperative113
My Ancestral Castles123
Sharing the Mayhem131
The P.M.'s Empire of Books139
Secondhand Prose147
Recommended Reading155


Using Bacon for Bookmarks

The great New Yorker writer A. J. Liebling used bacon for bookmarks. This fact was attested to by another great New Yorker writer, Joseph Mitchell, who inherited Liebling's library after his friend's death. This is all I know about the incident, and I'm curious about a couple of things. First, did Mitchell witness this historic act, or did he find the bacon after he inherited the library -- that is, was he reading along in Madame Bovary and all of a sudden, during the middle of one of Emma's love scenes, did he come upon a fragment of a breakfast Joe Liebling had eaten 20 years earlier? And second, was the bacon rare or well-done? From the bookmark perspective, each has advantages and disadvantages: Crisp bacon would be less greasy, but it would leave more crumbs.

Liebling loved books, but not in the same way as, let us say, the parents of the late critic Diana Trilling. They kept their copies of Flaubert and Dumas in a glass-fronted case, and required their daughter to wash her hands before she touched its contents. I would place Trilling's parents in the category of courtly book-lovers: They wished to maintain each book in its original state of chastity, and their love, therefore, was real but platonic. Joe Liebling, on the other hand, was a carnal book-lover. He preferred a hands-on, strips-of-bacon-on, physical kind of relationship, and I have little doubt that he would have viewed courtly lovers as sterile and prissy.

I thought a lot about carnal and courtly lovers when I wrote Ex Libris, because I knew that when the book was published I'd be irretrievably outed as a member of the carnal school. In these confessional days, hardly anything shocks anymore, but I have the sneaking suspicion that many readers who accept presidential dalliances with aplomb may gasp in horror when they find out that I write in the margins of my books and mark my place, at least in paperbacks, by turning down the page corners. (So far, I have not used bacon for bookmarks, but -- this may earn me a long jail term for felony book abuse -- I did once use a Saltine.)

One of my readers, a courtly lover, once told me that people who write in books should be relegated to a special circle of Dante's hell in which they would be eternally poked with sharp-nibbed pens. My view is that people like Diana Trilling's parents should be relegated to a special circle of hell in which they would have to wash their hands eternally and never, ever be permitted to read a book. Writing in the margins of books strikes me as a form of conversation; it turns a monologue into a dialogue. I have inherited many books that my father, who can no longer see, used to own, and turning the pages of Moby-Dick and reading his observations on Ahab's character makes the book vastly more precious to me than it would be if it were pristine. The great English essayist Charles Lamb used to lend books to his best friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and they often came back with annotations as long as the text. Lamb said the marginalia "tripled the value." I'm not sure the same can be said for the paperback edition of Middlemarch in which, at 18, I offered a good deal of marginal advice to the heroine ("Don't marry that creep Casaubon!"). But that copy of Middlemarch is more valuable to me, if not to anyone else. Like a diary, it reminds me of the person I once was -- and for me, as for everyone in my family, the person I once was and the reader I once was are impossible to separate.

So I beg clemency from all you courtly lovers. As you don surgical gloves to read your immaculate first editions, think about indulging, every once in a while, in a bit of wanton pleasure. I'm not recommending using bacon for bookmarks, but you might try throwing caution to the winds by leaving a marginal comment or a fingerprint or a pressed flower in the next book you read. Perhaps you will even come to feel that such personal vestiges are marks not of desecration but of intimacy.

—Anne Fadiman

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Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 79 reviews.
AllisonB More than 1 year ago
EX LIBRIS is collection of essays on the subject of owning books. It's the perfect gift for avid readers, or for anyone who knows Anne Fadiman's work, or who enjoys the personal essay form, or who cannot imagine a life without stacks of books on every horizontal surface.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ex libris is a slim volume of essays and commentary from an avid book reader and collector. Anne Fadiman ties her wonderful library so closely to her personal relationships that one could easily see her giving up the love of her life were he not as passionate a reader as she. She also offers wonderful snippets of commentary...how Sir Walter Scott was out one morning hunting, when a passage he had been creating suddenly completed itself in his head. He promptly shoots a blackbird, plucks out a feather, dips it in the birds blood, and captures the sentences. She discusses how the greatest act of trust in her marriage was the combining of her library with her husbands. How as a child, her family would argue over words and meanings, and, as an adult, how she would seek her fathers council when she came across words like 'adapertile' and 'kakodemon'. She discusses the merits of literature as food. And on, and on, always anchoring her prose by citing various beloved pieces of literature which might prove her point. This is a beautiful book with a strong message for all those who have ever been lost in the pages of a great novel, or perhaps, would like to be. It provides a map to the heart of good literature. It provides the heart as well....
Derrybookworm More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much, I bought copies for friends and relatives. They loved it so much, they bought copies for friends. Something this great has to be shared!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A slim book with 18 short essays on her love of reading & how it intertwines with her life. Her stories include from when she was a little girl through the present as a wife & mom.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who has a lifelong love of book will see themselves reflected in this collection of essays. Anne Fadiman's humor and wit come through in each section. It was a quick read, and was well worth the time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader, and I related to this book perfectly! I wish there was more to it, and that it was longer!!! I recommend it to EVERYONE!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Fadiman's book so much that I even got a book written by the author's mother. Ex Libris really brought me back into the book world after being busy with kids for so many years. Not having read nearly 10% as many books as Anne Fadiman, I miraculously shared a lot of the same feelings she has about her books,it's absolutely amazing.
Lindsay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great book for anyone who reads.
dverg48 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I could relate to most of what she was saying in her essays - words matter, books are life. Thoroughly enjoyed it. And I had to keep my dictionairies close at hand.
jmccamant on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
With one exception--I am generally a "courtly" rather than "carnal" lover of books--every bit of Anne Fadiman's book-life rang so true that I couldn't help but exclaim aloud with every chapter. I covet this woman's life and even more so, her skill with the personal essay. She writes about her library and reminded me how much I love my own. Thank you Sara, this was lovely.
porch_reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is another of those books that I¿ve seen mentioned in your threads so many times that it was carved into my mental TBR list. When I¿ve seen so many glowing reviews of a book, there is the risk that it won¿t live up to all the hype. Not so with this book ¿ in fact, I loved it even more than I thought I would.Fadiman is an unapologetic lover of books. Her passion is reflected in each of these essays. She shares memories from her childhood, growing up in a family of voracious readers and proofreaders. She divulges the difficulties that she and her husband faced when marrying their libraries and the joy that she felt in being taken to a used bookstore for her birthday. (She left with 19 pounds of books.) From Fadiman¿s perspective, books are things to be used (for reading or building castles) and loved, even if that love leaves books with signs of wear (or tooth marks). Fadiman¿s essays made me reflect on my own memories of books and made me want to reorganize my shelves just so that I can spend some time with old friends. If you haven¿t read this book yet, you are in for a treat!
Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anyone who is as obsessed with books, as so many of us are, will delight in this lovely compilation of stories about books, their personal meaning, how we collect them, why we collect them, how we do or don't share them and how we may have gained a love of reading.Some of my favorite essays include the author's comments regarding how, after joining her partner in marriage, years later it was decided to meld their books. Realizing that commitments can begin and then end, both book lovers did not want to give up their personal cache. What fun to read laugh out loud situations about who gets to give away their copy of a multiple edition and who decides how to categorize and shelf which are most important.Another essay, of which I can totally relate, discusses the fact that those who consume books like lovely pieces of chocolate, cannot help but become obsessive proofreaders, noting the smallest errors. We read menus and find typos. And, how very frustrating it is to read a lovely sentence and then discover the utter shock of a glaring spelling error.I laughed at this tale because a few days ago while at physical therapy I noticed many materials on the counter. Wham! I saw the proud statement that this practice is excellent in managing "pan!"Remembering that as an infant my granddaughter chewed the corners of all cards sent to her, I smiled when I learned that one of the reasons first editions of Alice in Wonderland are so difficult to find is because children seemed to like to eat the pages.Recommended!
EBT1002 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a delightful collection of essays about books, about the love of books and the love of reading, and about the intersection of reading, books, love, and life. I started flagging the essays I particularly enjoyed and gave it up when I realized it would make more sense to flag the essays which I found rather less captivating. There were two of them. I picked up this book at the library, but I will be seeking out a copy for purchase as it's one that belongs in my library. To do Fadiman's work true justice, I will keep an eye out for a used copy, preferably dog-eared and annotated in #3 pencil. Highly recommended.
Smiler69 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Author Anne Fadiman has book love well anchored in her genetic pool. A cursory glance at wikipedia tells us she is the daughter of the renowned literary, radio and television personality Clifton Fadiman, who among other things, between 1933 and 1943 was in charge of The New Yorker's book review section, and World War II correspondent and author Annalee Jacoby Fadiman. She also attended Harvard University, graduating in 1975 from Radcliffe College. I would say therefore, that I have one major grudge with this book: that the title "Confession of a Common Reader" is quite misleading, if the word is taken to be a synonym of "ordinary". This woman is in the Pro leagues, and no mistake. With that out of the way, I can say that this is a delightful collection of eighteen essays by an enthusiastic bibliophile, all based on her personal life and experiences, including that of her fascinating family members and friends. To begin with, we get a good glimpse into her private life in "Marrying Libraries", in which she explains how after years of marriage (and ten years of frequenting one another), she and her husband undertook the project of combining their books:"Promising to love each other for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health¿even promising to forsake all others¿had been no problem, but it was a good thing the Book of Common Prayer didn't say anything about marrying our libraries and throwing out the duplicates. That would have been a far more solemn vow, one that would probably have caused the wedding to grind to a mortifying halt."In "The Joy of Sesquipedalians" I was equally amused and mortified by the fact that I would never have qualified to play along with what she calls Fadiman U, who have a propensity for seeking out long and obscure words (something my mum, a writer, no doubt loves too). But my personal favourite was beyond a doubt "The Catalogical Imperative", in which Fadiman makes the following admission: "There is one form of literature, however, that I would sometimes prefer to the Paradiso. It is¿I realize that I am about to deal my image a blow from which it may never recover¿the mail-order catalogue." Now there's a girl after my own heart.
brenzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has been recommended by so many here on LT I don't know why it took me so long to get to it. Simply a delightful book of essays about Fadiman's love of books and the role they've played in her life. And, surprise, it resonated with me just as much as any of the other wonderful books about books that I've read. Funny? Oh my yes.Fadiman, who is hooked on books about polar explorations, on John Franklin's expedition:"Who but an Englishman,Sir John Franklin, could have managed to die of starvation and scurvy along with all 129 of his men in a region of the Canadian Arctic whose game had supported an Eskimo colony for centuries? When the corpses of some of Franklin's officers and crew were later discovered, miles from their ships, the men were found to have left behind their guns but to have lugged such essentials as monogrammed silver cutlery, a backgammon board, a cigar case, a clothes brush, a tin of button polish, and a copy of The Vicar of Wakefield. These men may have been incompetent bunglers, but, by God, they were gentleman." (Page 25)Oh my, she really knows how to turn a phrase. And who of us, has not found themselves in a similar situation and reacted exactly as she did here:"I have spent many a lonely night in small town hotel rooms consoled by the Yellow Pages. Once, long ago, I bested a desperate bout of insomnia by studying the only piece of written material in my apartment that I had not already read twice: my roommate's 1974 Toyota Corolla manual. Under the circumstances (addiction, withdrawal, craving, panic), the section on the manual gearshift was as beautiful to me as Dante's vision of the Sempiternal in canto XXXI of Paradiso.(Page 113)My husband has accused me of studying the phone book on more than one occasion. But my absolute favorite has got to be the essay about proofreading. My hubby has walked away from me in embarrassment as I pulled out a black marker and corrected a sign or three in the produce department at the local grocery store so I laughed out loud at this, as a pedant could only be expected to do, because it hit so close to home. Fadiman is lucky to be joined by her immediate family in the proofreading business:"Of course, if you are a compulsive proofreader yourself---and if you are, you know it, since for the afflicted it is a reflex no more avoidable than a sneeze---you are thinking something quite different: What a fine, public-spirited family are the Fadimans! How generous, in these slipshod times, to share their perspicacity with the unenlightened!"Why can't my hubby be more understanding? Anyway, if you want to laugh and pass a couple of hours in sheer delight, do pick up this little gem. Highly recommended.
jnwelch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"It has long been my belief that everyone's library contains an Odd Shelf. On this shelf rests a small, mysterious corpus of volumes whose subject matter is completely unrelated to the rest of the library, yet which, upon closer inspection, reveals a good deal about its owner."Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman is everything a booklover could want. She writes insightfully about Odd Shelfs (hers has 64 books about polar exploration), merging your library with a loved one's, predilections for constant proof-reading (including menus and store signs), the joy of long words like sesquipedalians (bonus points if you spot some redundancy there), and lots more in a slim, concise volume.She writes beautifully, and manages to make you want to spend time with her in a cafe in discursive palaver. Her family (parents, siblings, husband and children) are of her tribe, with the same love for books and words, and their appearances in the book are beautifully sketched. She's also self-deprecating, which she seems to have every reason not to be, and charms with admissions to things like her obsession with mail order catalogs.What a wonderful book! Many thanks to NarratorLady for recommending it.
lycomayflower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A delightful collection of essays about books and reading. From the observations about the "odd shelf" to the musings about the use of "Ms." to the memories of childhood reading, I saw myself throughout the book--and that can be one of the best things about reading.
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading this book is reassuring, comforting, and at the same time almost depressing. It's wonderful to find reinforcement for one's reading and book collecting habits, but one must lament the eventual passing of such bibliophiles. A compendium of essays, a long lost form of literature that deserves a comeback, her stories are fun, erudite and eminently readable. Each essay stands along, so this volume is one to be kept close by, to read again and again, in small, delicious morsels.
shawjonathan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Contrary to the claim of the subtitle, Anne Fadiman is anything but a common reader, and her essays collected here don't contain much by way of confession, unless you count the revelations of extreme nerdishness in the family she grew up in (her father would throw lines of poetry at the children on long car rides, challenging them to identify the source; the Fadimans were highly organised, actively engaged listeners to a particular radio quiz show). Nor are all the essays about reading as such. But 'Miscellaneous ruminations of a bookish person' doesn't have much of a ring to it, so I'm happy to forgive the false advertising. With New Yorkerish sophistication and lightness of touch, the essays approach books from any number of angles: as objects to be read, certainly, but also as collectibles, elements of home décor, markers of the stages of a marriage (the first essay deals with the challenge of blending libraries). There's a piece on plagiarism which plays with the idea that all writing builds on things the writer has read -- and I swear I read whole paragraphs of it pretty much word for word on the internet recently over someone else's name. Another essay talks about authors' inscriptions, ranging from oft-told anecdotes about the famous dead to witty things Ms Fadiman's friends have written at book signings.My favourite essay is probably 'The his¿er problem', which isn't about books at all, but about the writerly/editorly matter of gender-inclusive language. The battle has long since been fought, won and analysed, but she revisits it with passion and compassion. A passage by one of her male writer heroes speaks consistently as if all people were male, and she feels a door slam in her face. She can't ask that writer what was going through his mind when he wrote the paragraphs in question, but her father has written similar things, and she asks him: when he wrote 'he' to represent a generalised person, did he have 'or she' understood in his mind, as people had argued for decades? Her nonagenarian father frankly admits that when he wrote 'he' he meant a male, that females were in effect invisible to him in those moments, and he reckons that anyone over a certain age who claims otherwise is lying. In this father¿daughter exchange the essay becomes something more than a generic, elegant reflection, and the book has quite a few moments like that. (The same essay gives a sweet glimpse of Mr Shawn, legendary editor of The New Yorker, adroitly avoiding saying the name of a magazine that the young Anne has mispronounced, so as to spare her the mortification of having her mistake indirectly pointed out, however indirectly.)
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ex Libris is a collection of essays about books - reading books, collecting books, growing up and old with books. Fadiman is passionate and witty, and her essays are, for the most part, very entertaining and thoughtful. I would recommend this to any avid reader.
booktherapy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is so interesting and has a connection to any avid reader. I loved reading all her essays and discovering the familiarity in my own life. Her writing is interesting and professional. I loved it!
msf59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This little book about books is a real pleasure. Fadiman exudes wit and intelligence!
keywestnan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful, friendly, accessible collection of essays by Fadiman, former editor of The American Scholar and all-around literary woman. She writes as, about and for those of us who can't imagine life without books, and how they enrich our lives in so many different, unexpected ways.
dancingstarfish on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
amusing, fun, enjoyable. a great read
mysteena on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is several short essays about the authors lifelong love of books. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I share her passion. However, I learned that I am a different type of book lover than she. I have no problem co-mingling my books with Chris', while it was a monumental step for her and her husband to mix their respective libraries. I never write in books (unless they are text books or scriptures). I don't like to add my own words to the authors. That is their space. She writes and writes in all her books, which means she keeps them all for the notes she's made. I don't tend to buy books or keep mine for long unless they are true treasures. If I love a book, I want to give it to someone else to read so they can experience the joy. I'm trying to be better about keeping my books because, well, librarians should have good personal libraries, right? My favorite essays were the one on plagerism and the one on used books. I highly recommend this book to all my book loving friends. And don't make the mistake that I did by borrowing it from the library. Go purchase your own copy because it will be a book you want to keep.