Friday, February 5, 2010

Ex Libris

I expected to love Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman. I think that I assumed that since she loves reading enough to write a book about it, I would feel an immediate affinity with her. But I just didn't connect with her. Something about her writing made me feel like I was being held at arm's length.
I did enjoy a few things, for example, when she talks about people who treat books as precious objects never to be marred in any way (courtly lovers) versus people who physically love their books, making notes in them, leaving them on pause by placing them open, face-down until you return (carnal lovers), I am like her and am a carnal book lover. Spines, in the case of books, are meant to be broken. You can tell my favorite paperbacks by their well worn spines. And until recently I never used real bookmarks. I'd leave the book open or grab whatever was at hand, usually a tissue, a scrap of paper, a pen, another book.
I also enjoyed how she talked about owning books, and was good at creating images of houses overflowing with books. That's how I want my house to be.
I also appreciated having a book of essays to read this week. I've been slammed at work, preparing for my company's annual conference in two weeks and shooting four commercials on top of my regular duties. I've been too drained to concentrate on much at a time at home because my mind keeps flickering to all I need to do. I'm hoping to spend the day reading tomorrow to help relax and be refreshed.
But despite this, I found myself skimming some of the essays and feeling disconnected.


  1. I preferred At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays but I agree that the quality of all Fadiman's essays are patchy. She is a better reader than writer.

  2. I didn't connect with this one all that much either. Like Anthony, I thought At Large and At Small was better, although I still rolled my eyes at times. ;)