Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Pick Me Up

There is nothing like a little book about books for a pick me up when one is needed. The little book in question is Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris. I thought I had not read it before, but once I was halfway through the first essay I realized that I had. I couldn't find the book listed on my books read list so I don't know when I read it the first time. If you actually have managed not to read this gem, find yourself a copy or add it to your holiday wishlist. The essays will resonate with any book lover. I think one of my favorites is "Marrying Libraries" in which after five years of marriage and keeping their books apart, she and her husband finally decide to join their libraries together. Of course complications arise--what to do with duplicate copies? Who has to give up their cherished edition? How is the combined library to be organized? Fadiman seems the kind of bookish person you'd want to have for a best friend. She has an intimate and conversational style that feels more like she's chatting with you over coffee and a scone. She is passionate about books and words and has a great sense of humor. Even if you think breaking the spine of a book is an unforgivable crime, you will laugh at her essay "Never Do That to a Book." At the end of the book Fadiman has a couple pages of recommended reading in case you want more books about books. She even recommends one of her very favorite essays, "On Three Kinds of Social Intercourse" by none other than my pal Michel de Montaigne. She's truly a kindred spirit.