Finding a new author to treasure is always exciting. And when a friend shares a book with me that opens the door to a new writer’s wit and wisdom, I always feel doubly blessed. My friend Chris lives a few blocks away. With an adorable new baby, two older children, and her dog Pooch, Chris has her hands full. Yet in the midst of her busy life, she was reading a book by Anne Fadiman — a writer I’d never heard of. We chatted a bit and then Chris went to her bookshelf, pulled out a slim volume by Anne called Ex Libris, and loaned it to me.
What a delight! Everything about the book was appealing: the title, the creamy green cover imprinted with an old-fashioned book plate, the typeface, and even its storied publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Dipping into the collection of sprightly essays about the joys of reading was a joy in itself. Airy, elegant, and charming, they seemed to float off the page and transport me to a bygone era — a time when just holding a book in your hands was an open sesame to adventure.
Coincidentally, I met a dog-walking pal of mine who had her Kindle with her cradled in — what else? — a stylish green cover. She loves downloading books, especially when she travels for business, and has already steamed through a long list of titles. Convenient, portable, instant — I certainly see the appeal and admire its sleek look and the universe-on-call it delivers. But still, I’ll take the off-the-shelf reading experience myself. I love the the sense of possibility captured between two covers, the rough-smooth feeling of a page, the look of type on creamy paper, and the weight of a fresh new book in my hands.
One cool and sunny Saturday afternoon recently, I sat outside with a tall drink and spent a delicious couple of hours reading Ex Libris and communing with Anne Fadiman, my newly discovered author and fellow booklover, as she chased words, ideas, and dreams. For me, it doesn’t get much better than this. How about you?