Ex Libris
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Ex Libris : Confessions of a Common Reader

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Description

Anne Fadiman is the sort of person who learned about sex from her father's copy of "Fanny Hill", and who once found herself poring over a 1974 Toyota Corolla manual because it was the only thing in her apartment that she had not read at least twice. "Ex Libris" wittily recounts a lifelong obsession with books. Writing with humour and erudition she moves easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family. 'One of the most delightful volumes to have come across my desk in a long while...witty, enchanting and supremely well-written' - Robert McCrum, "Observer".show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 144 pages
  • 108 x 178 x 12mm | 99.79g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0140283706
  • 9780140283709
  • 41,006

Review Text

Award-winning journalist and editor Fadiman (The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, 1997) comes from a bookish family (her father is Clifton Fadiman). And part of the charm of these collected personal essays about books and book-loving is the way she adhesively, casually, playfully chronicles her family through its books and bibliomania. An essay about the devoted reader's compulsive love of proofreading opens novelistically with the Fadiman parents and their adult children sitting down to a restaurant dinner and, as their preferred first course, passionately - helplessly? - correcting the menu's typos. As a reporter who is here making a transition to the first-person essayist's voice, Fadiman (also the new editor of the American Scholar) maintains a sparkling sense of story, whether the stories tell us about her or about someone else. And her book shows an impish range in subject. In "Never Do That to a Book," she comments on hard uses made of books: how we're wont to scribble in them, even teethe on them. "My Odd Shelf" discusses that part of a bibliomaniac's library dedicated to the anomalous fervent hobby (for George Orwell, it was "ladies' magazines from the 1860s, which he liked to read in his bathtub." Fadiman's own odd shelf holds volumes about the history of polar explorations, and she retells some of these sagas in admirably vivid and unadorned style. At times, the origin of the essays as commissioned pieces for the author's column in Civilization magazine does restrict their scope: they seem too brief, glib, coy, or intellectually unventuresome. As a self-described romantic whose imagination lauds the Victorians and seems jovially (and delightfully) anachronistic, Fadiman comes across sometimes as an escapist unwilling to examine the terms of her escape or to question them. Instead, she's intelligently entertained by books - and she's entertaining. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Anne Fadiman

Anne Fadiman is editor of The American Scholar and an award-winning journalist. Her first book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down won the US National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-Fiction. She lives in New York City.show more