Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Books about books.

Just this morning, I finished Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman. It is an excellent book about books. Sometimes b-a-b can be very dry. I imagine the whole genre only appeals to bibliophiles like myself. Fadiman's book, however, is lively and engaging. I found myself laughing aloud (at the hairdresser, no less, so I got weird looks).

I picked up the book while I was shelving at work. I was initially taken by the title because ex libris is a favorite phrase of mine. It's Latin for "from the library (of)". I find it curious that the books about books come right after computer manuals in Dewey, but that's a different story. Anyway, I checked the book out to add to my HUGE stack of library books. I like to mix up fiction and nonfiction so I always have an option of what to read.

A favorite part:

on shopping in secondhand bookstores:
"'Alas,' wrote Henry Ward Beecher. 'Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore!'...In secondhand bookstores, each volume is one-of-a-kind, neither replaceable from a publisher's warehouse nor visually identical to its original siblings, which have accreted individuality with every change of ownership. If I don't buy the book now, I may never have another chance. And therefore, like Beecher, who believed the temptations of drink were paltry compared with the temptations of books, I am weak."

I am extraordinarily weak when it comes to secondhand bookstores. I also relate to Fadiman in the way that she is a compulsive proofreader/officer of the grammar police, she has a particular pen she likes to write with, and she treats her books roughly as a sign of intimacy. It was a great read!

Check it out.

Ex libris,


1 comment:

Jean said...

Boy, this Ex Libris character is so YOU. It is amazing that someone would write such a book in the first place and that one could read it while so closely identifying with the characteristics of the lured by books and the draw to own and have so many special ones. Oh, this is a book about you, I'm sure.