Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Books on books

I've recently become interested - fascinated by? feel compelled to read? - books about reading books.

It began with what I consider the cream of the crop of book lovers' tributes: Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. I read this maybe 4 or 5 months ago, and still consider it to be one of my literary highlights of the year. This book is an ode to love of reading, and books, and the role those play in a book lover's every day life. Not to mention, Anne Fadiman is a superb essayist; the pages pass too quickly, you laugh heartily and sigh deeply, and still, always, you want to read more so you can say, Yes! That's me! I do that too!, and not feel alone in your connection and possible devotion to the books in your life.
Paperback: 9780374527228 $11

(If you just love essays, as I do, Anne Fadiman's book of familiar essays, At Large and At Small, is equally wonderful. Hardcover: 9780374106621 $22, Paperback: 9780374531317 $12)

My interest in things literary was then continued when I recently picked up a copy of Who the Hell is Pansy O'Hara? by Jenny Bond and Chris Sheedy. Subtitled "The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World's Best-Loved Books", this book, written in the form of small chapters, uncovers and reveals delicious little tidbits of information about authors' lives, everything that influenced them into producing well-known works, from the Bronte sisters and Dostoevsky to J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown, and everyone in between.
Paperback: 9780143113645 $13

The latest book in this growing collection I discovered last week, mainly because the title is something so near and dear to my own heart. Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan is absorbing me to the point that I considered saying those exact words to the poor waitress at breakfast the other morning. I didn't, I politely declined a refill of my tea water, and then went back to reading what is essentially a memoir through books. Taking a surprisingly feminist reading of books and authors that influenced her life, Maureen Corrigan dives into detective novels, action-adventures stories, and what surprised me the most, Christian literature. Not having read a single "Catholic-matyr narrative" (as she mentions in the introduction), I'm actually excited and interested to see what she has to say, from a feminist point of view, about these texts, and how they fit into a modern, non-practicing (in terms of an established relgion), feminist woman's life.
Paperback: 9780375709036 $13.95

So, if you, like me, not only love to read, but for some reason also love to read and identify with other people's books about loving to read, then there are three suggestions for some darn good book-readin'. Enjoy!


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