Thursday 5 February 2009

Someday, I'll lead the book the meantime, I've got some reading to do

I don't normally read books about what other people are reading, but I decided to give Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader a go because the awesome and eminently trustworthy Darren insisted I do so. Indeed, he was scandalized that I hadn't read it already.

The primary reason I tend to avoid books about books is that the topic continually reminds me that I'm reading, which I find distracting and irritating. This, of course, did happen somewhat with Ex Libris - it's just the inevitable result of trying to force my story-addicted brain to engage with reportage/memoir - but not so much that I didn't really enjoy this book.

Yes, I really enjoyed this book! It was incredibly funny and engaging and well-written and completely free of any kind of grammatical errors and typos. This book really made me want to sit down with Anne Fadiman over tea and food (lots of it) and talk about books for hours and hours. She gets people like me and our book-hoarding compulsions and need to always have a book on hand because she's the same! She's a gigantic nerd and she's not ashamed of it. She can definitely be part of my book revolution, a general even, whenever I figure out what a book revolution will look like.

In the meantime, I'm back to reading Henry James, alternating between lighter fare and his heavy meditations on being a social beast in 19th-century England and America. I'm on page 777 of 1200-and-something. I've read two stories (so 140 pages) in the past 2 days and really, really enjoyed them. I think I really will finish Vol. 1 of his short fiction before the end of the blog year, which is something I didn't feel very confident about a week or so ago. But I'm disappointed in myself for needing a whole year to do it - yes, I began this tome literally at the beginning of Blog Year 2 and the eve of Blog Year 3 is imminent! Ah well. I'm going to the gym now. For Vol. 2, I'll have gigantic heavy-book-carrying muscles and there will be no excuses.


Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

If it took Henry James ten years to write them all, it doesn't seem so bad that it took you only one year to read them.

Stacy said...

I read this quite a few years ago but think it may be time to reread it. I can remember loving it but can't remember particular details. I recently read an essay by her father, Clifton Fadiman, and found that I was equally charmed by his writing and had found another kindred spirit.

Anonymous said...

I loved this as well! Her second volume of essays, At Large and Small is equally good and I'd recommend it.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Amateur Reader in thinking you have no reason to feel ashamed at taking a short year to read such an immense work.

And the Fadiman book sounds like it might be fun to read "in between" two other books.

Bookphilia said...

Amateur Reader & Verbivore: Good point. Thanks for the perspective!

BookPsmith & Sarah: thanks for the recommendations on further Fadiman readind.