Deb's Reviews > Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
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Mar 11, 08

bookshelves: non-fiction, favorites, short_stories
Recommended for: book geeks
Read in January, 2001

This is my favorite book of essays on reading--I've never found another that can top the eloquence, brevity, and wit contained in this volume.

Things learned: the differences between a courtly and carnal lover of books, what the word sesquipedalians means (very long words), how & when to combine libraries with a fellow book reader you've joined houses with--do you give away the ragtag copy of x book because your partner has a nicer copy? Is a re-read the same without the book you grew up with? Fadiman points out the little details of reading that are often felt by readers but rarely put to words. Like the "odd shelf" in every library that has nothing to do with the rest of the collection but is rather like a medicine cabinet, in that it tells quite a bit about the owner.

Also worth reading but in a totally different vein of non-fiction is Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child Her American Doctors and the Collision of Two Cultures. Even if you aren't terribly interested in the subject matter to begin with, you will be--Fadiman's writing is just that good.

If you'd like to borrow it, I have a loaner copy that's floating out in the ethereal mysts of someone else's book shelf right now, but it should be coming back shortly.
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