Confessions of a Common Reader

Confessions of a Common Reader Anne Fadiman (1998), Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Ex Libris recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language. Anne Fadiman, like many passionate readers, regards books that she loves as chapters in her life story. I can remember certain books that I read at certain periods of my life. Star Trek novels saved my sanity as I was training in Edinburgh for my postgraduate degree, far away from home and family.

Writing with remarkable grace, she (Fadiman) revives the tradition of well crafted personal essay, moving easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathological literary family. As someone who plays at blocks with her father’s twenty-two volume set of Trollope (“My Ancestral Castle”) and who considers herself truly married only when she and her husband had merged collections (“Marrying Libraries”), she is exquisitely well equipped to expand upon the art of flyleaf inscriptions, the perverse pleasure of compulsive proof-reading, the allure of long words, and the satisfaction of reading aloud.

A jolly good read for bibliophiles and bibliomaniacs and those in between.