Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
Confessions of a Common Reader

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Anne Fadiman is--by her own admission--the sort of person who learned about sex from her father's copy of Fanny Hill, whose husband buys her 19 pounds of dusty books for her birthday, and who once found herself poring over her roommate's 1974 Toyota Corolla manual because it was the only written material in the apartment that she had not read at least twice.
This witty collection of essays recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language. For Fadiman, as for many passionate readers, the books she loves have become chapters in her own life story. Writing with remarkable grace, she revives the tradition of the well-crafted personal essay, moving easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family. As someone who played at blocks with her father's 22-volume set of Trollope ("My Ancestral Castles") and who only really considered herself married when she and her husband had merged collections ("Marrying Libraries"), she is exquisitely well equipped to expand upon the art of inscriptions, the perverse pleasures of compulsive proof-reading, the allure of long words, and the satisfactions of reading out loud. There is even a foray into pure literary gluttony--Charles Lamb liked buttered muffin crumbs between the leaves, and Fadiman knows of more than one reader who literally consumes page corners. Perfectly balanced between humor and erudition, Ex Libris establishes Fadiman as one of our finest contemporary essayists.

About Anne Fadiman

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Anne Fadiman was born in New York City and was raised in Connecticut and Los Angeles. After graduating from Harvard, she worked as a wilderness instructor in Wyoming before returning to New York to write. She has been a staff writer at Life, editor-at-large of Civilization, and editor of The American Scholar. Fadiman is also the author of Ex Libris and At Large and At Small, and the editor of Rereadings. She now lives with her family in western Massachusetts and serves as the Francis Writerin-Residence at Yale.
Published April 1, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 178 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ex Libris

Kirkus Reviews

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Award-winning journalist and editor Fadiman (The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, 1997) comes from a bookish family (her father is Clifton Fadiman).

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Publishers Weekly

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What a bunch of captious, carping, pettifogging little busybodies!"" Well, yes, but Fadiman's writing, particularly in her briefer essays, is lively and sparkling with earthy little surprises: William Kunstler enjoyed writing (bad) sonnets, John Hersey plagiarized from Fadiman's mother.

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Entertainment Weekly

A book for bookworms: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader's 18 stylish, dryly humorous essays culled from Anne Fadiman's Civilization columns pay tribute to the joys of reading, the delights of language, and the quirks (yes, there are a few) of fellow bibliophiles.

Oct 23 1998 | Read Full Review of Ex Libris: Confessions of a C...

The Bookbag

Summary: A series of short essays on the subject of books.

Dec 29 2012 | Read Full Review of Ex Libris: Confessions of a C...

Austin Chronicle

For those whose appetite for the written word has them reading the backs of shampoo bottles and cereal boxes for a fix, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, a humorous field guide to the culture and compulsion of reading, is a reassuring arrival.

Jan 12 2001 | Read Full Review of Ex Libris: Confessions of a C...


(SALON) -- At age 4, Anne Fadiman was building castles out of the 22 volumes of her father's set of Trollope.

Oct 12 1998 | Read Full Review of Ex Libris: Confessions of a C...

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