Friday, April 3, 2009

Ex Libris

I'd recommend this hilarious collection of essays about the love of (or obsession with) books to any book lover alive. Maybe I didn't always agree with Fadiman's opinions on things, but she certainly confessed to a level of bibliophilia that I can relate to. On some levels. She casually mentioned zillions of book titles that I've never heard of. She's obviously better read that yours truly, but I still felt like we were kindred spirits. It was very easy to identify with such character traits as her compulsive proof-reading, obsession with second-hand books, love of huge words, and persnickety book organization methods.

I thought her "Marrying Libraries" chapter was brilliant. One of the things I've loved about being married to Jon is the combination of our book collections. He's given me a taste for poetry and philosophy which is definitely new for me. We're constantly adding to our library, and it has not been easy to figure out how to fit everything onto our limited shelving options. In fact, we have boxes of books with no current homes and I can't wait until we have a house so Jon can build me all the shelves I've been longing for. I love books as decorations. As long as they get read too, of course. An unread book is almost as bad as an unused piano. (Nothing bothers me quite as much as when people buy a piano just to make them look rich and fancy.) Anyway, eventually I'd like to organize all my books alphabetically by genre, but for now they're pretty haphazardly organized by topic and desire for frequent access. It's a mess!

I'll admit to reacting in horror to a few things she mentioned in her "Sir, You Must Never Do That to a Book" chapter. She catalogs book lovers into either courtly lovers or carnal lovers, and I must be somewhere in between. Unlike the "carnal" type, I do NOT feel comfortable ripping pages out of books, writing extensive notes in margins, using books as door jambs, or any of the other ghastly things she mentions. Maybe it's just my desire to make my books last as long as possible. My number one book rule is "NO BOOKS ON THE FLOOR!" because I know that's where they're most likely to be eaten by Spencer. I hope he grows out of this phase quickly. Our copy of "Knuffle Bunny" is almost destroyed. I'm not sure why that seems to be the most delicious book in the house. Anyway, I'm also not the other extreme. I want my books to look used and loved. And I have on occasion been known to *gasp* lay my books aside with the pages facing down when I don't have a bookmark handy. I do NOT, however, dog-ear them under any circumstances *shudder*.

One last thing, I do want to brag that in her chapter where she expounds the virtue of a large vocabulary I actually knew one of the words in her impossible to know 20 word vocab test. Diapason - meaning with full voice or tenor. Of course it was a music word. With greek origins. Two of my favorite hobbies. Anyway, if you're a book lover, this little work is delightful.

1 comment:

SoniB said...

I'm loving your blog. I'm just not as fast of a reader as you and can't keep up. I finally got over dog-earing my pages (if it's a paperback) . . . I use it as a way to mark passages I want to remember. Did a lot of that in Atlas Shrugged . . . just finished.