Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

1 of 9 for the Fall Reading Challenge

rating: 5/5
genre: non-fiction/essay

As the child of two incredibly literary parents (both of them writers and voracious readers), Anne Fadiman has written a collection of essays about her experiences with books, and not just reading them. She writes about plagiarism, secondhand stores, vocabulary lovers and the inscriptions we write - all told with a self depreciating and humorous voice.

Every essay entertained me. I'm sure part of that is the fact that I am a fellow lover of not just the written word itself, but the entire package - the smell and texture of my books, the memories a book cover can conjure and the bond books have helped me form with other people. Fadiman fleshes out the reading experience in these essays, and her only flaw (if you can call it a flaw) is that she knows so many more authors and books than I do that I occasionally got overwhelmed with the depth of her book knowledge. Usually, though, this just made me find her more fascinating as a writer.

What I appreciated most is the way that these essays seemed to validate each individual readers experience - while she confesses the way that SHE treats her books, she also shares the way that her brother and the hotel housekeeping staff and her editor treat their books. Some of these essays almost feel like sociological studies - the breadth of anecdotal examples is startling and often incredibly amusing. This book places me, as a reader, within a long and illustrious line of folks who have chosen books as their passion. I want to give this to every book lover that I know - I'd be surprised if you didn't find a little piece of yourself in there somewhere.

7 comments:

bethany said...

wow, you gave this one a super high rating!!! and that just may be the little extra shove I needed to read it :)

Thanks for the great review!

Sandra said...

I love essays about books and reading. I'm going to see if my library has it. If I like it I'll get myself a copy.

Fyrefly said...

SO MANY people have loved this book that I'm starting to feel left out that I haven't read it yet. I'll have to get on that!

Beth F said...

Thanks for the review. I often forget about reading essays and shorter works. I'm putting this one on my reading list.

Trish said...

This sounds like the perfect book for book lovers!! I think I've heard about this one from somewhere else as well and they also rated it really high (could be thinking of a different book). I'll definitely have to add this to the list for a little indulgence.

Alea said...

I bought this book recently! It definitely sounds like a great collection!

MizB said...

I loved this book when I read it back in 2002... I am definitely going to re-read it! :) In fact, I put it on my wishlist, 'cause it's one I want to own. ;)

MizB

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