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Ex Libris is a wonderful collection of essays by Anne Fadiman. The essays all spring forth from Fadiman's absolute love for books, and it's hard not to catch her excitement. She describes her best birthday present: fourteen pounds of books from a used book store. She tells us of the huge commitment she and her husband made after five years of marriage: marrying libraries. This involved merging all the books from their separate book cases into one combined library.

Perhaps my favorite essay out of this collection is the one titled Inset a Carrot. The subject of this essay is proofreading, and I completely related to the Fadiman family's compulsiveness in this area. "Me too!" I excitedly scrawled on the margin, as Fadiman described her family proofreading menus in a restaurant. "Oh, I know," I groaned inwardly as she told of her brother's dissatisfaction with a technical book he was reading -- they're the worst for typos.

Fadiman has a wonderful way of describing her love for books. She admits to being a little snobby about it, but she does so with grace and humor and modesty. In The Joy of Sesquipedalians, she tells us of several words she came across for which she didn't know the meaning. Yet she isn't defensive about it, or embarrassed at not knowing them, merely happy to be learning new words.

I shall end this with a recommendation to any book lover to buy this book, and a quote from the preface:

Books wrote our life story, and as they accumulated on our shelves (and on our windowsills and underneath our sofa, and on top of our refrigerator), they became chapters in it themselves. How could it be otherwise?
--Anne Fadiman

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