Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

I finished this book yesterday (while recovering from an inexplicably horrible hangover produced by an open bar wedding I attended the previous evening).  I really enjoyed it at the beginning, got progressively annoyed with her pretentiousness in the middle, then got over it and enjoyed the last few essays.  Some of the topics were more interesting than others but any reader would love reading about another person’s love of reading.  I especially liked the chapter on reading out loud since Ben and I have started reading plays together (finished Macbeth, working on The Importance of Being Ernest).

I found the chapter on plagiarism (complete with footnotes explaining where every idea was originally though of) annoying.  I got into a bad habit of ignoring footnotes in law school and now I don’t even notice the little numbers so I spend a lot of time going back to find them.  I hate reading footnotes almost as much as I like writing them in my own work (something about the tiny writing).

All in all, I enjoyed it.  Her unique upbringing is likely the reason for the pretentious vibe I got from it and she can’t really be blamed for that any more than I can be blamed for the fact that I notice when a house needs to be repainted thanks to my father the contractor (I do have the tact not to point it out to the owner – unless it has the potential of giving my dad some business).  So I eventually was able to look past that and just enjoy the views of another avid reader.

I should note that I originally started reading this book over a year ago at Emily‘s suggestion when I was writing a paper on reading.  Though I didn’t end up reading much before I wrote that paper, I appreciate the recommendation and I am glad I found my way back to it.

3 thoughts on “Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

  1. KatharineGrate June 22, 2009 / 9:43 pm

    Thanks for the review. I've been wanting to read this book.


  2. Vishy July 16, 2009 / 4:23 am

    Nice review. This is one of my favourite books and I am hoping to read it again this year. I lent my copy of the book to one of my friends and she liked it so much that she has silently kept the copy for herself! I read Anne Fadiman's second essay collection called 'At Large and At Small : Confessions of a Literary Hedonist' a few months back and I found it quite nice too. The essays in it are on more diverse topics, but are equally interesting. I would recommend it.


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