Thursday, May 15, 2008

ex libris

There are some books that you race through, the exciting plot drives you on, the pages flip madly as you head for the finish line, sometimes even staying up way past bedtime.

And then there are books that you just want to take your time with, and hold back that need to read more. That's how I've been feeling about Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris. It's a collection of 18 essays she wrote over a period of four years, and they're all about books and reading.

As she says in the preface:
Books wrote our life story, and as they accumulated on our shelves (and on our windowsills, and underneath our sofa, and on top of our refrigerator), they became chapters in it themselves. How could it be otherwise?

She writes of marrying her and her husband's libraries together, how their American collection is alphabetised, whereas their English collection is in chronological order (and chronological even within each author).

"You mean we're going to be chronological within each author?" he gasped. "But no one even knows for sure when Shakespeare wrote his plays!"
"Well," I blustered, "we know he wrote Romeo and Juliet before The Tempest. I'd like to see that reflected on our shelves."
George says that was one of the few times he has seriously contemplated divorce.

Oh definitely a book that's to be savoured, page by page, word by word.

Read an excerpt here.


dimsumdolly said...

Yes, I loved the book when I read it a few years ago!

imp said...

a friend gave it to me as a birthday present and i love the quiet humor in this book!