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Our Craft is More Modest

January 15, 2011

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Happily, most readers fall between these two drastic extremes. Most of us neither shun books in veneration of literature, nor shun literature in veneration of books. Our craft is more modest. We pick our way down endless library shelves, choosing this or that volume for no discernible reason: because of a cover, a title, a name, because of something someone said or didn’t say, because of a hunch, a whim, a mistake, because we think we may find in this book a particular tale or character or detail, because we believe it was written for us, because we believe it was written for everyone except us and we want to find out why we were excluded, because we want to learn, or laugh, or lose ourselves in oblivion.
-Anne Fadiman, Rereadings

18 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2011 8:42 am

    I love this. I’m going to copy it out to keep. :)

    • January 16, 2011 11:59 am

      Doesn’t she have a way with words? :)

  2. January 15, 2011 9:10 am

    Love this! I need to see if my library has this one. I loved her first set of essays on reading.

    • January 16, 2011 11:59 am

      Unfortunately, this is from the foreward; she just edited the collection, so the essays are by all different people. I found it to be disappointing, but there were a couple gems.

  3. January 15, 2011 10:15 am

    Anne Fadiman is my goddess.

    • January 16, 2011 12:00 pm

      I’m contemplating a reread of Ex Libris this year!

  4. January 15, 2011 11:52 am

    That makes me feel so much better about myself. I shall stop beating myself up for not reading classics all the time.

    • January 16, 2011 12:00 pm

      Oh good! You should never feel guilty about your reading!

  5. January 15, 2011 12:05 pm

    She really captures well all those diverse and little reasons why we pick up a book.

  6. January 15, 2011 8:54 pm

    Beautiful thoughts!

  7. January 15, 2011 9:51 pm

    “because we believe it was written for everyone except us and we want to find out why we were excluded”

    This made me smile. Yup, been there before.

  8. January 17, 2011 7:02 am

    ‘…because of a hunch, a whim, a mistake…’ – that’s how I find most books! – that way, and more recently on wonderful blogs like yours. Loved your vlog too…it’s nice to meet you in person at least that way! :)
    (Appreciated your kind thoughts last week… it was all sudden and scary, but my dad is much better!)

  9. January 17, 2011 10:19 am

    I love love love love love this. Thanks for sharing!

  10. January 17, 2011 11:19 am

    What a lovely quote! She really did nail every good reason for picking up a book. It me yearn to wander up and down the aisles of the library (alas I’m at work … with no good book in site … sigh).

  11. January 20, 2011 12:07 pm

    Fantastic quote and so, so true!

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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