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Showing 1-10 of 53 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 144 reviews
VINE VOICEon September 18, 2012
This little book has been sitting on my shelf for a while. I've dipped into it on a couple of occasions, always to put it down. I'm a great admirer of Anne Fadiman's "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down," so I couldn't quite figure out why "Ex Libris" did not hold my attention, even though some of the essays are delightful.

Since the third time is reputed to be a charm, I recently picked it up again, determined to read it through. I did, and I also discovered the reasons for my struggle to enjoy the book. The first is the repeated appearance of The Fadiman Family (father, mother, son, daughter Anne, and Anne's husband, an honorary Fadiman). In these essays, the Fadimans, certified bibliophiles, are like interesting dinner guests who stay on for a game of Trivial Pursuit and end up winning it all before the other guests have put a single slice in their own little trivia pies. No fun.

Perhaps the Fadimans overstay their welcome in "Ex Libris" because many of these essays were published separately in Civilization and later collected in this volume. Repetition is an all too common problem in essay collections.

There may be a solution. Leave the book on the nightstand. Pick it up every few months and open the book to a random spot---middle, end. Read from front to back. Try back to front. The author even has a number of useful observations on reading in bed.

M. Feldman
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on April 25, 2017
This was was suggested by the website for reading addicts and it is wonderful to read a readers joy of reading. She puts to words how much reading is so wonderful for her and her husband. It also shows what book lovers face with their love of book, desire to own them, and their not wanting to lose them. It was a joy to read her love of reading and books.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 20, 2002
This is an enchanting book of essays compiled from articles originally published in Civilization, the magazine of the Library of Congress. The subjects alone are enough to bring a smile to any "common reader", a phrase used by Virginia Woolf (and borrowed from Samuel Johnson) to connote an educated layperson who reads for pleasure rather than scholarship or criticism. Ms. Fadiman turns a lovely phrase, and the reader will often feel they've found a kindred spirit. Topics include the intimacy of combining libraries, the enjoyment of long words, that odd shelf in your library, the carnal versus the courtly love of books, inscriptions, reading literature about a place while you are there, used books, proofreading, plagiarism, catalogues and reading aloud. While reading about these delightful subjects you will also learn about the author and her family, Arctic exploration, Thomas Macaulay and a host of other indispensable bits. The book succeeds on all fronts.
It was a pleasure to read a book that made me break out the dictionary, and a dangerous little section at the back recommends yet more books that you probably don't need but that will undoubtedly make your life sweeter, as this one does. It can be read quickly, but you'd be wiser to savor it.
Highest recommendation.
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on March 9, 2017
The copy of the book I received was in very good condition, like new.
As for content of the book, it is fantastic. Very enjoyable essays--I think any avid reader will be able to relate.
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on April 12, 2015
Anne Fadiman's prose speaks directly to the heart of her audience—the heart of a reader that lives and breathes by the written word. As that reader I found myself entranced by her voice and sense of humor. Yet there is something more to this slim little volume than literary allusion and wittiness. Woven into her language is also an enthusiasm for life and a love of people that truly brings her work together. From her thoughts on merging her library with her husband's library, to her fascination with the Antarctic, and even to her love for catalogs there is plenty here to appreciate.
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on September 2, 2012
This is an elegant book of 18 essays on the topic of reading and books. Ms Fadiman's prose is charming, erudite and entertaining. Among the interesting tidbits I discovered was the fact that the British Prime Minister Gladstone when wearied of the political life diverted himself by 1. chopping down giant trees, 2. walking the streets of London talking with prostitutes (ostensibly to reform them,) and 3. arranging his huge, constantly growing personal library (the latter was his greatest diversion.)

Ms Fadiman has written another lovely collection of essays entitled "At Large and At Small."

I fervently hope she publishes another book of essays, and soon!
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on April 24, 2014
This book was a gift. I hope the recipient enjoyed it as much as I did when I read it years ago
(it had been given to me by a school friend and fellow avid reader).
Anne Fadiman writes about her own family's experiences with books
(starting with her brother being chastised by a Danish chambermaid after he left a book face down to mark the place --
'You must never do that to a book!'-- and her difficulties merging her own library with her husband's). Very entertaining.
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VINE VOICEon August 31, 2000
What a marvelous book!
When Anne Fadiman started to describe the merger of her library with her husband's (never mind that they had been married for years and had children together, this was the event that convinced her they were *really* married), I knew I had stumbled on a kindred soul. Anne Fadiman can write, and she chooses to write about what it means to live a life surrounded by (and wallowing in, let's admit it!) books.
Her love affair with the written word permeates this book. The details of her life are completely different than mine, but this book made me feel like I understood her from the inside out. I read large parts of this book out loud, to anyone I could find who seemed like they might find it amusing. Most of them ran out and got themselves a copy of the book. I can't read it out loud to you, so all I can say is if you love reading, if you are consumed with a love of the written word, Anne Fadiman's book will speak to the deepest part of your soul.
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on November 8, 2012
This book was a used book purchase. When it arrived it could very well have been a brand new item. Perfect Dust jacket, pristine pages and nary a mark to be found.
I will admit that Ms. Fadiman is not everyone's writer. However, she does it for me. Don't decide not to read this collection of book related (reading, collecting, sharing, storing) based on either the good or bad reviews. If you think it may interest you get it from the library or digital download. then if you like it buy a hardcopy. I look forward to adding this book to my shelf (after I get Ms. Fadiman to sign it).
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on November 22, 2015
Fadiman is not just an erudite bibliophile but an accomplished wordsmith with heaps of personality. Halfway through, you want fervidly to know her; when you're finished, you feel you do.
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