Tag: bibliophiles

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

Posted November 19, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne FadimanTitle: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (Goodreads)
Author: Anne Fadiman
Narrator: Suzanne Toren
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998
Pages: 162
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Anne Fadiman has often stated that she learned about sex from her father’s copy of Fanny Hill (correct title for this book is Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland. Ex Libris (which is Latin for ‘from books’) is a collection of essays that recounts her life and her love affair with books. This collection of personal essays documents her life and those small problems only a fellow book lover would truly understand. Like when Anne and her husband finally decided to merge libraries five years into their marriage in the essay “Marrying Libraries”.

I have to admit, I love Anne Fadiman; she is the embodiment of everything I want to be as a reader. She is smart, witty, a little wry and can talk about books with great passion and intelligence. She does come across as pretentious and throws in some quotes in French just to show off, however her writing is so beautiful and she talks about books, not just as a personal experience but also includes some literary criticism.

This collection recounts a lifelong love affair she had with books; exploring the joys and passion that comes with being a book lover. I love how she talks about books in the form of personal essays; it gives me a whole new concept about writing. I obviously knew about personal essays in the past but something about this book just opened my eyes and made me think “I should be doing this”. The way she talks about her reading journey in a collection of connecting essays is wonderful; it turns the book not into a linear progression but rather focuses each essay on an experience or book.

You might have noticed that when I review books I tend to put a bit of my personal life and journey into the blog post. The style suits me and because I want to think of my book blog as a personal journal into my reading life, I feel it fits that theme. Anne Fadiman has a similar idea but in the form of essays and she puts my writing to shame; I now aspire to write as elegantly as she does with wit and beauty within each essay. I am nowhere near where I want to be but practise makes perfect; right?

This is the kind of collection I plan to read over and over again. I obviously love books and Anne Fadiman has obviously set the bar high for future books. I started reading memoirs from bibliophiles because I wanted to learn different ways to talk about books. Ex Libris has taught me so much more about books and just reminds me how much I love books about books. I have a whole heap of other memoirs to read and to be honest reading about people’s reading life has given me an appreciation for memoirs in general. I want to read more styles; not just readers but writers and then progress to other types of creativity. I remember starting the year struggling through non-fiction but it looks like I am ending this year with a completely new attitude towards them.


Light Reading?

Posted April 27, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 2 Comments

Recently my mother complained about my taste in books, calling them difficult or weird books to read. This led to her saying that she wouldn’t trust me to recommend her a book because she wants light and frivolous books. I’ve recommended her two books in the past; one was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón which was not really light or frivolous but it is just a brilliant story and it has something for everyone in it; everyone except my mother. The other book was a lot lighter and easier to read, it was the exciting debut novel, S.J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep; which she didn’t like either. So what do I recommend to someone that doesn’t want to think or feel any sad thoughts?

Light reading is an interesting concept. While some people read too many romance novels that it can’t be healthy (Yes, you know who you are but at least you try my book recommendations), others turn to fantasy, science fiction and thrillers in the hopes to escape reality. Everyone has a different concept of light reading. For me; I think I do a lot of light reading but my concept of light reading normally involves pulp fiction or a dark thriller. Then again I seem to enjoy reading all types of books and find great pleasure in reading literary fiction, classics and others books people might think isn’t light.

Which brings me to an interesting article, found on Book Riot about The Problems of Reading for Pleasure, which talks about people’s favourite books and how they are never the type of books they actually read. The author of this article tries to understand why crime and romance novels are so popular but they never seem to on people’s favourite books list. Also he mentions the fact that maybe diversity in reading will lead to a richer and more diverse reading life. I love this article because it pleases the book snob in me and it also raises a very interesting point.

While I hope people are willing to try new genres and willing to listen to recommendations from fellow bibliophiles, I wonder; do people know a reader like my mother? What do you recommend and do you secretly try to help expand their minds with great literature that may also be light and enjoyable for the reader.

I thought about this for a long time and I think I’ve found some books I would recommend to my mother;

  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon