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.