This is the final installment of my own thoughts as I read Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
by Anne Fadiman. I haven't touched upon every essay in the book, just the ones that made the biggest impression on me. If you are curious and have yet to do so, please check out Part One
and Part Two
.Thoughts of this common reader (continued): "Inset a Carrot"
(The title of this essay is simplified here because I do not know how to add in the edit marks)- While dining out one night, the Fadiman family began perusing the menu, each of them pointing out errors in spelling and wording as they went along. The Fadiman's are natural proofreaders and have taken this habit a step farther. Anne's mother, for example, collects newspaper clippings filled with errors and plans to one day ship them all to the editor.
I spend a good part of my workday proofreading and making corrections. It is no wonder then that when I sit down to read a book, I have a difficult time ignoring the errors. Still, if I am caught up in a story, sometimes I am willing to overlook the minor mistakes. Unfortunately for my staff, their work is rarely that captivating.
Anne also mentions her annoying habit of looking over her husband's shoulder and making corrections to his writing. I am guilty of this as well, I admit. I am not quite as quick at finding my own errors, however, and sometimes miss them altogether. It can be quite embarrassing."Eternal Ink"
- The perfect writing utensil can sometimes act as a muse. With the advent of computers, more and more people are using computers to write, which for some makes the process more impersonal, more hurried, and less romantic.
I have had favorite pens and pencils over the years, but none stand out in memory. I am one of those people who finds it easier to compile my thoughts and write on the computer than to pen something by hand. My thoughts come faster than my pen will write, sometimes faster than I can hit the keys, but the convenience of copying, pasting, moving text around until it fits perfectly together is hard to beat. When I do write, I prefer to write in pencil. Perhaps it is my insecurities coming through or just the fact that I like the gentler touch of a pencil. It is not as permanent, certainly, but my thoughts are not always permanent. I cross out just as much as I use the eraser. I don't mind smudges in my notebook from the eraser. I think it adds a bit of character.
My husband is much more specific about the type of pen he uses than I am. He prefers "the Uniball Roller Micro (5mm), made by Sanford, preferable in black,"
although he likes to have a variety handy for other purposes."The Literary Glutten"
- Although I eat when I read, I rarely develop an appetite for a food I may be reading about at any given moment. It is different for Anne, however, for whom food in books creates an appetite.
I asked my husband where he stands on this subject: "Yeah, reading about food does nothing for me. Unless someone eats pizza. That's usually enough to start a craving.""My Ancestral Castles"
- Anne was raised in a home of readers. They were a family that read together as well as on their own. I imagine there was not a place in her house where there was not a book to be found. Bookshelves lined the walls. A person's bookshelves say a lot about them, sometimes revealing more about the person then he or she might realize.
When I enter a house, my eyes automatically search out the books. While not every booklover is a collector of books, there usually are some books out and about, even if they are library books. I especially love it when visitors to my home do the same, stopping in front of my shelves and start browsing the titles. I feel a sense of pride in my collection, as motley as it might be. I am not really sure what my books say about me, although I attempted to figure it out in last week's
Sunday Salon. Maybe my library says I have too busy of a mind."Secondhand Prose"
- It is no surprise that Anne is drawn to used bookstores. As a carnal booklover and one who values inscriptions as she does, she can fully appreciate the treasures that are tucked away in the cozy used bookshop, not to mention coming across an older out of print book that cannot be found elsewhere.
I admit that I prefer new books to old, but there certainly is something special about a used book, one that has crossed through many hands, is read and appreciated, has that irresistible old book smell, and will most likely be passed on again at some point. Isn't that the purpose of books? Books are the ultimate way to tell a story, a story to be shared with many others, passed along for generations to come.
A couple of days ago, a friend sent me the link to Rachel Donadio's article in The New York Times Sunday Book Review
, "It's Not You, It's Your Books
," an essay about how taste in literature can sometimes get in the way of love. It is an interesting article and at times worth a few chuckles.
My husband and I are fortunate enough to share a love for the written word. We have similar tastes, but sometimes we disagree. It seems only natural. I have reader friends whose significant others barely open a magazine to read at any given time, much less bother with books. Many are happy in their relationships. Since it was books and writing that initially brought my husband and I together, I cannot fathom the idea of not having that in common with my spouse. Reading and books are an important part of my life, and I personally would prefer to share it with someone who feels similarly. But that is just me. I do not believe there is any one recipe for a successful relationship.
This past week I seemed to hit the jackpot in ARE's. The Cellist of Sarajevo
by Steven Galloway arrived as did The Book of Dahlia
by Elisa Albert. I found one sitting on my front porch and the other behind the back gate. Both delivered on the same day. Obviously signs that the books came via different routes. It almost felt like an Easter egg hunt! I also received an ARE of After Hours at the Almost Home
by Tara Yellen as well as a copy of The Arthurian Omen
by G.G. Vandagriff, a Library Thing
Early Reviewer selection. It wasn't my birthday, was it?
After reading Bibliolatrist's review
of Rape: A Love Story
by Joyce Carol Oates, I could not wait to add it to my TBR collection and so picked up a copy while at the store yesterday. Since I was already there, I stopped by the discount table and picked up copies of Skylight Confessions
by Alice Hoffman and Clockers
by Richard Price as well.Buy a Friend a Book Week
officially begins Tuesday with several contests already underway in the blogosphere. Will you be surprising someone with a book this week?