12 October 2008

Sunday Salon: Ex Libris is like science fiction

As if How to Read a Novel wasn't enough torture, I am reading another book about books. This time it is Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. It is a collection of essays written by Anne Fadiman about the attachments that readers have to certain books.

I just finished reading the first essay, "Marrying Libraries", and it was like spying on citizens of another planet. How to combine book collections is not a conversation the couples we know had to have. In my personal life, the women tend to be the readers. The men didn't go into their relationships with books; they just complained about how much space they took up. The only books my husband brought with him when we moved in together were his battered Boy Scout manual and his high school yearbook.

I didn't grow up destitute but there wasn't much of a budget for books. The majority of the books that I read have always come from the library. Therefore I didn't come into my marriage with boxes of cherished tomes. I have a couple paperbacks from the days when I was single and loved to attend library book sales. My attachment to those books is more about the age of the books and the cover art (I had an infatuation with the 1960s back then) rather than the content of the books themselves.

I suspect the issue of marrying libraries may come into play for my 15-year-old daughter M in the future. She and her male friends share an interest in graphic novels and sci-fi. All the books she's read in the genre have been borrowed from boys she knows. I can envision her buying tons of her own books once she gets a job. Then she and her future mate can discuss whose copy of Runaways Vol. 1 gets to stay.

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