Last Sunday I let you glimpse some of my thoughts as I began reading Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. Part One of my own impressions found us discussing the joining of libraries, the love of words and poetry.
This week, let's take a walk through my library as I continue sharing my thoughts as I read this little book about reading and books.
Thoughts of this common reader (continued) -
"My Odd Shelf" - Anne refers to her odd shelf as books "unrelated to the rest of the library, yet which, upon closer inspection, reveals a good deal about its owner." [pg 21] The only odd shelf I have in the house is what I refer to as the reference bookcase which houses all of the reference books, home repair how-to books, the Bibles, animal care books, and cookbooks. I do not think that is exactly what Anne was referring to. And if it is, my odd shelf could be very misleading if you expected to actually learn something about me from the books I keep on that bookcase.
Literate Kitten posted about a similar topic, although more general as it relates to a person's entire library, Thoughts for Thursday - What Your Books Say About You. Over half of the books I own are unread books, books I have collected in recent years with every intention of reading. I still plan to read all of these books too; it's just that I am not quite as fast a reader as I am a book collector. Like in life, there is so much I want to take in and enjoy and, unfortunately, there never seems to be enough time to do and see it all.
Among my read and unread books, there is a wide variety of subject matter. I am a very curious person and have a passion for learning. I especially enjoy learning about other cultures and lifestyles, whether they be somewhere close to home, in another country, or in another world altogether. Although the mysteries probably outnumber the fantasy novels, I have a great passion for both--and it shows on my shelves.
The condition of the books a person's shelves also says something about us, don't they? Mine are a combination of pristine and tattered and torn, depending. There are new and used books on as well. Not one is there for display alone--that's not the sort of person I am.
The books are organized simply. The hardbacks and trade paperbacks are separated out from the mass market paperbacks. It's more of a shelving issue than for aesthetic purposes. Mass market paperbacks take up less room and are easier to double shelve. Regardless, they are all in alphabetical order by author's surname. Series books are kept in order of publication. At the moment I have quite a few books stacked at odd angles on top of the shelved books. Lack of space and my tardiness in filing them away being the two main reasons for this. Oh, and my to be read books are kept separate from the read books, rooms apart, but the shelving system is the same for all of them. While my bookshelves convey a sense of organization there is still a hint of underlying chaos, another echo of who I am.
What do your books say about you?
"Never Do That To A Book" - This was among my favorite chapters of the book. This is a topic dear to many of us booklovers hearts regardless of which side you stand. Anne describes two camps on this issue: the courtly lover who is always careful and treats books like a fragile glass figurine; and the carnal lover who ravishes books, loves them hard, and is not afraid to let it show. One is gentle and would not dare mark in a book. The other is fearless and uses the margins as if the space is meant for notes and recording a reader's history. Anne is a carnal lover as is most of her family. Her examples had me chuckling and nodding along in agreement, from both sides of the fence.
This topic has come up a few times before. You can find my more detailed thoughts on the subject here and here. I fall somewhere in between a courtly and carnal booklover when all is said and done.
"Words On A Fly Leaf" - This is perhaps my favorite of the author's essays. It was not too long ago that I shared my thoughts about inscriptions in books. Anne shared her own story about how the first book she received from her husband-then-beau was inscribed in a rather impersonal, friendly way, and then years later, he had penned the most romantic dedication she could have hoped for. Inscriptions can hold all sorts of meanings, be serious, romantic, funny, or short and to the point. For the recipient, it can mean the world. Or not:
"How melancholy, by contrast, are the legions of inscribed copies one finds in any used book-rack, each memorial to a betrayed friendship. Do the traitors believe that their faithlessness will remain secret? If so, they are sadly deluded. Hundreds of people will witness it, including on one occasion, the inscriber. Shaw once came across one of his books in a secondhand shop, inscribed To---- with esteem, George Bernard Shaw. He bought the book and returned it to ------, adding the line, With renewed esteem, George Bernard Shaw." [pg 60]Of course, there are many reasons an inscribed book might land in a secondhand bookshop, not just because the reader no longer wants the book.
"You Are There" - Would the ultimate reading experience involve reading the book in the setting that is being described? Anne Fadiman thinks so. I do like to visit the places I read about or read about the places I visit. On my husband's and my journey through the Southwestern U.S., I was especially drawn to books set in the spots we visited. Anytime we would come across a bookstore, I headed straight for the local area section in hopes of finding just the right book. I have also found that it can be even more stirring to read a book set in the same season that is underway when I read a book, even if the location may not be one I am familiar with.
I had every intention of answering this week's Booking Through Thursday question along with participating in the Friday Fill Ins. A surprise visit from my parents and a few other unexpected issues of the unwelcome variety have kept me away from the computer and my reading this week. I have been unable to stop in and visit all my favorite blogs recently as a result. Hopefully I will be able to get back into the groove of things soon.
New Book Acquisitions:
New Book Acquisitions:
- The Murder Notebook by Jonathan Santlofer (ARE, Library Thing Early Review book)
- The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (ARE, review book from publisher)
- The Konkans by Tony D'Souza
- The Undead Kama Sutra by Mario Acevedo
- On Beauty by Zadie Smith
- Lost Prince by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Front Street Reviews selection)