Posted in Book Reviews, Posts

Ex Libris; Confessions of a Common Reader

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.

Ex Libris

This is a book about books. Like Anne Fadiman, I love books about books. But a book about essays about books? Not so much up my alley. I’m a book nerd, don’t get me wrong. But the Fadiman family breathe books, and they take them kind of weirdly seriously.

Each essay focused on some book related topic. From words, to bookshelf organisation, to the desperate need to read, this book covered it all. Some topics I related to perfectly. Bookshelf organisation is something very important, that should be done with the utmost care. It was kind of sweet seeing her and her husband argue about the right way to do it, and how they went so many years having separate shelves. I think I would be like that too. My books are some of my most prized possessions, and I don’t want ANYONE to tamper with them. So it was cool reading about someone who made a career of being as uptight about books as I am. Then there were the weirder ones… For example, the one about typos. Anne and her family hate hate HATE typos. Her mother had a folder of typos from a particular newspaper she read so she could send them back and make a complaint. Then, they’d look down on anyone who wasn’t the same. Honestly, this book made me feel stupid. The Fadiman’s only associated with book people, and they looked down on anyone who wasn’t a book person. The author’s every word expressed her disgust for people who didn’t agree with what she was saying. And. I. Hated. It.

So honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this. It wasn’t a bad book, but I wish it had been written by a different author. Someone who’s more open to everyone’s different reading styles and tastes, and who didn’t make assumptions that we understood her every reference. I’ve been reading a lot of disappointing books recently, and I’m just going to add this one to the list

Three Stars



I was a book blogger for a while, and I now blog about every little thing in life I can think of. Bear with me while I try all these new posts out... I'm a New Zealand teen who gets angry about the world (but not angry enough for tumblr). I like to capture the world through photos and words, and read in all the moments in nz-squadbetween. I have an overwhelming desire to see every corner of the world I possibly can, and hug the people I love in all those corners. I can't do make up to save myself, and you're more likely to find me buying matching stationary than matching clothes. My nerd hobbies include a new found love of the Avengers, reading YA, watching Game of Thrones, How I Met Your Mother, and every vlogger I can find, and being the last person on the music bandwagons. I have big plans for the rest of my life, including university, teaching, travelling, and having an army of puppies. I plan to blog every second of it!

9 thoughts on “Ex Libris; Confessions of a Common Reader

      1. Every book’s character has been written by the author. Our script is written by HIM – no matter how realistic and unidirectional it would appear, it has much more twists and adventures than one can imagine in stories. I can narrate many from mine and surely you can add a handsome number from yours too.

        So cheer up! You are already Alice of your own wonderland πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s