Eight Ex Libris

Winter river

Last year I began placing bookplates in my favourite books, creating a sort of core library with the books I treasure the most, the ones I believe I will keep forever. These books of course included my best reads, but also books cherished because they were gifts or particularly beautiful (and good, beauty alone is not enough to earn an Ex Libris in my library). I also keep a record of the selected titles, why they were selected, and make a note anytime I reread them. I have found it to be a good way to take the time to consider my books and what they mean to me.

Last year, the first year I had my own Ex Libris, I added it to sixty books, this year I have added it to another eight.

The first one I added was Howl’s moving castle by Diana Wynne Jones. This is a book I loved as a kid and still enjoyed when I reread it January. Books that are equally good on a reread are always good candidates for a bookplate, and this was also a particularly beautiful edition.

Trollkarlens hatt (Finn Family Moomin) by Tove Jansson was my second addition. All Moomin books are per definitions suitable for my Ex libris collection, but last year I did not have a good edition of this novel and now I do. This one is perhaps the most cheerful of the Moomin novels and was thus a perfect reread during a dreary March.

A woman in the polar night by Christiane Ritter. Well written arctic memoirs will always find a home on my bookshelves. This was a first time read, but one I had been longing to read ever since I discovered it in German in Longyearbyen. Finally it is available in English again.

My father has a copy of Asken Yggdrasil, a retelling of Norse myths by Alf Henriksson, and his copy was probably* my first real exposure to Norse mythology. This year I finally got my own copy and found it to still be a very good read.

Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige (The wonderful adventures of Nils) by Selma Lagerlöf. Another book I read in my childhood and reread this year. Although physical travels have been difficult this year, this book allowed me to travel with the geese all over Sweden.

My family and other animals is Gerald Durrell’s entertaining memoir of his Corfu childhood. I read this one last year and loved it then and, as it turned out to be equally fun on a reread, it was an obvious choice for my Ex Libris collection.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier was a first time read and one of my best reads this year. I’m already looking forward to rereading it.

Black hole survival guide by Janna Levin was a Christmas gift. As a teenager I read plenty of popular science but since I became a scientist I find that much of it, even when related to fields I haven’t studied, to be either adapted for readers without a science background, and therefore often too simplified for me, or too technical to be read for pure entertainment. Janna Levin is an exception. She avoids most of the standard features of popular science astronomy books and goes directly for the more intriguing and abstract concepts and ideas, and does so without being particularly technical. It doesn’t hurt either that she is also a very good writer.

*My local library had the Danish Valhalla comics so it is possible that I read them first

9 thoughts on “Eight Ex Libris

  1. As a kid I used to cut out my name and address from envelopes on which they’d been typewritten and stick those in, especially with hardbacks; but when I moved away from home the futility of it all struck me. Now I tend not to even write my name inside, and certainly not since I stopped lending out favoured books (which never came back to me). I still have a set of pristine Ex Libris stickers I got in a Christmas stocking years ago which I suspect I’ll never use…

    But when I see some of the titles you’ve chosen to personalise in this way I can certainly understand the impulse!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is certainly a somewhat vain impulse, especially as these are the books I would normally not lend anyone, but I like the way it makes me consider which books I really cherish (and also the ones I don’t and might be able to discard) and generally reflect more on the materiality of my books. Plus it allows me to spend more time with my favourite books which is always nice…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s a lovely thing to do! I have some bookplates in my maiden name that Mr. Kaggsy got for me when we were first together and I have these in some of my books. It’s difficult nowadays to do this as the name is wrong and also my library is in a constant state of flux. However, I *do* have some books I know I will never part with so maybe I should mark them in some way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have really enjoyed using my Ex Libris these last two years. But, although I really like adding the physical bookplate, as it follows a family tradition and as I have a very nice one from Slightly Foxed, the process of selecting the books and considering my choice has been even more interesting. It forces me to take the time to stop and consider which my favourite books are and to write down some notes on why. Labelling them is helpful for this too as it reminds me to make an additional note every time I reread them, but in principle I could have used a fancy bookmark or something similar to mark them instead.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is! At least for know I have them spread all over the library, I have considered placing them on a separate shelf but they belong to various different genres, so for now I prefer having them spread out.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.