Thank you for all your comments yesterday, much appreciated! We’re still all very chuffed here – oh, and do keep contributing your name to the BAFAB draw until the end of the week. Will probably do the draw on Sunday.
It’s been quite a while since I added another book to the ’50 Books You Must Read But May Not Have Heard About’, which are listed down the left-hand column of this page – so today I’m going to add the eleventh. This one was a cert from the offset.
Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman. This was the first book I ever bought new on impulse. That sounds like I have admirable restraint in book purchasing, but I think you know me well enough to despute that allegation – rather, my impulse-purchases are almost always secondhand books. But this one I couldn’t leave on the shelf.
The book is quite small, in length and height – a pocket book, if you will. The subtitle is ‘Confessions of a Common Reader’, and anyone who has manoeuvred themselves to a website with the words ‘Stuck’, ‘in’, ‘a’, and ‘Book’ in the title will be entranced. In bitesize chapters, just perfect for one-a-night-before-bed, Fadiman explores the foibles and activites of the book obsessed. You’ll recognise the lot.
My favourite section is ‘Never Do That To A Book’:
‘When I was elevn and my brother was thirteen, our parents took us to Europe. At the Hotel d’Angleterre in Copenhagen, as he had done virtually every night of his literate life, Kim left a book facedown on the bedside table. The next afternoon, he returned to find the book closed, a piece of paper inserted to mark the page, and the following note, signed by the chambermaid, resting on its cover:
SIR, YOU MUST NEVER DO THAT TO A BOOK’
Don’t know about you, but I’m cheering on the chambermaid. The chapter divides readers into ‘Courtly Lovers’ and ‘Carnal Lovers’; the latter are happy to use their books as table-wedges, tennis rackets or surf-boards, the former wouldn’t let a biro within ten metres. I’m definitely Courtly… how about you?
Ex Libris is a witty, warm collection of essay-anecdotes, a perfect gift for something bookish, but equally a perfect gift to yourself. Find out about The Odd Shelf, Literary Gluttony, and the Joy of Sesquipedalians, and scream in recognition at every page.