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Friday, October 19, 2007

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

****½ Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman. Nonfiction.

This collection of essays was recommended a long time ago by a former member of one of my email lists. It had been on my TBR pile for a very long time. *sniff* I miss you, Kim.

What this is is a collection of essays about books: reading them, shelving them, collecting them, etc. etc. It's a chronicle of a love affair with books.

Almost every essay struck a chord with me: reading a car manual because there was nothing else to read (done that), playing word games as a child (yes), compulsive proof-reading of menus and signs (definitely), etc.

I laughed aloud at the essay on plagiarism (no, not a funny topic, normally) with its overabundance of footnotes. And a light bulb went on when I read the essay on the difference between courtly and carnal love of books: I've always felt vaguely guilty for not keeping my books in pristine condition--I eat while reading, read in the bath, leave them lying around, and my best-loved books are all mostly falling apart from being read and re-read. Turns out I'm in good company.

The only thing I had to overlook was what felt like a prejudice toward reading only classic literature. But honestly, I'd expected that. A book of essays about books is not likely to be written (or perhaps it's just not likely to be published) by an avid reader of contemporary genre fiction.

In a lot of respects, it's quite similar to Eats, Shoots and Leaves. They're both written solely for people who share the author's point of view, and quite probably feel pretentious and elitist to anyone who doesn't.


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Sounds great! I'll have to add it to my wish list. I loved Eats, Shoots and Leaves, so I bet I'll love this one too.

I used to read the ingredients lists on cereal boxes at breakfast because there was nothing else to read.
LOL! You sound like a kindred spirit!
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