Friday, August 02, 2013

Carnal Love of Books

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common ReaderEx Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
by Anne Fadiman

"I came to realize that just as there is more than one way to love a person, so is there more than one way to love a book. The chambermaid believed in courtly love. A book's physical self was sacrosanct to her, its form inseparable from its content; her duty as a lover was Platonic adoration, a noble but doomed attempt to conserve forever the state of perfect chastity in which it had left the bookseller. The Fadiman family believed in carnal love. To us, a book's words were holy, but the paper, cloth, cardboard, glue, thread, and ink that contained them were a mere vessel," (p 38)

Even if you have been a serious reader for most of your life you do not know the true meaning of bibliolatrous unless you have read about the Fadiman clan. Anne Fadiman, who has been the editor of The American Scholar and award-winning author, has written a loving and inspiring series of essays about a bibliophilic life. This is a wonder of a book, more for dipping into than complete immersion. My favorite aspect is the suggestions for reading that are both implicit and explicit in the book. For those like myself who are enamored of "books about books" there is a bibliographical essay about Ms. Fadiman's own favorite "books about books".

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