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Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by…

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (original 1998; edition 2000)

by Anne Fadiman

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3,9121962,024 (4.19)695
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.… (more)
Title:Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
Authors:Anne Fadiman
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (2000), Paperback
Collections:Your library, North American
Tags:essays, nonfiction, own, read in 2007, woman authors, american authors

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Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (1998)


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English (187)  Spanish (2)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (194)
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
It's really nice when writers are also major readers and book lovers, because then they write cool stuff about how awesome it is to read, and hit nails on heads regarding the quirks most book lovers have. I particularly enjoyed the essay on the joys of reading mail order catalogs. :) ( )
  Zaiga | Sep 23, 2019 |
Half the time books on books don't appeal to me because they lack story. But this one, a series of essays, has plenty of observations, thoughts, and love of books to relate to. ( )
  alyssajp | Jul 29, 2019 |
Delightful collection of short essays by a lover of books. This was light enough for me to hoover up in a single sitting and funny enough for me to stop and read passages out loud to whoever was sitting next to me. This is for anyone who cannot stop themselves from proofreading menus, billboards and Facebook posts. You are not alone. ( )
1 vote asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
Didn't finish - it had a kind of aristocratic air that didn't engage me. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
It has become familiar. Perhaps, excessively so. I have ventured again for family reasons to a funeral home. This is five times in the last nine months. This reflects a turning of corners in my family dynamics. While it isn't unusual for people at my work to pass prematurely, there has been a statistical glut in my family where people live beyond the norm and have now passed in quick succession. I have also begun buying books with regularity upon leaving the funeral home or cemetery. In itself, this isn't unique. I buy books all the time. Somehow this smells strange.

Monday night I left a funeral home in Salem, a small town north of here where I lived on two occasions; once as a child fresh from Detroit and once with my grandmother for a year during my early twenties. Walking out, I was overcome with concern about my sister's family and choosing not to dwell on such, I went over to a charity shop where I found Ex Libris waiting for me. While many of the 18 essays in Ms. Fadiman's book aren't about reading, there a few about writing and editing, I found myself carried along. What else should one expect from distilled magazine pieces?

The nod about books on books was lasting. Such a notion is still a privilege of the used book repository.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
The book is a modest, charming, lighthearted gambol among the stacks. It serves up neither ideas nor theories but anecdotes about the joys of collecting and reading books.
added by jburlinson | editSalon, Dan Cryer (Oct 7, 1998)
A terribly entertaining collection of personal essays about books, reading, language, and the endearing pathologies of those who love books.
added by jburlinson | editBoston Book Review, Patsy Baudoin (Jan 23, 1998)
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For Clifton Fadiman
and Annalee Jacoby Fadiman,
who built my ancestral castles
First words
When the Irish novelist John McGahern was a child, his sisters unlaced and removed one of his shoes while he was reading.
A few months ago, my husband and I decided to mix our books together.
Wake is just the right verb, because there is a certain kind of child who awakens from a book as from an abyssal sleep, swimming heavily up through layers of consciousness toward a reality that seems less real than the dream-state that has been left behind.
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.
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.
Americans admire success. Englishmen admire heroic failure.
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