rating: 3 of 5 stars
"Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader" is a bit of a misleading title. Anne Fadiman is far from a "common" reader. She is the daughter of two authors, she won an award for her very first novel, and she grew up in a house with 7,000 books! Once you know that Common Reader was the name of her column in a literary magazine, then the title makes more sense.
At any rate, the essays in this book made me wish that I was Fadiman's version of the common reader. Fadiman talks about the smell of books, the housing of books, the buying of books, and even the instruments used to write books, all in a way that makes the reader wonder why she never thought of these things herself. She recounts tales of trips to secondhand bookshops and reading in bed with her husband with such passion that I felt there was something missing in my own reading life. After reading her many references to a childhood surrounded by beloved books, I wondered if it was too late to add more bookshelves for my children.
There are people like me who read the words and then there are people like Fadiman who embrace the whole life cycle of the book. If you are the first, then read this book to see what all the fuss is about. If you are the second, then read this book as a reminder that you are not the only one.
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