When I first started out planning which books I would use my ex libris for, I assumed that it would more or less be a list of my favourite books. However, when I actually started to consider which of my books I really wanted my ex libris in, it became more complicated. Instead of asking myself if a particular text was a favourite of mine, I found myself thinking more about the physical book and whether or not I would want to hang on to that particular edition forever. Some of my favourite books are almost falling apart and will eventually have to be replaced so those hardly make sense to label. Others I have in more than one edition and deciding which edition to label is not trivial. Take the Narnia books for example, should I place my ex libris in the Swedish edition which I read again and again as a child but which is now brown or fragile, or in my quality English edition, which I have no personal history with, but which I most likely would choose for a reread?
For now I have deferred any difficult decisions and only placed them in books I plan to keep through good times and bad.
These were the first ten I selected:
Sommarboken (The Summer Book) by Tove Jansson
A favourite book by a favourite author, an easy choice.
Nordisk fjällflora (Field Guide to Nordic Mountain Flowers) by Örjan Nilsson
I’m not much of an amateur botanist but my grandmother was and this field guide is full of her notes on flowers she has seen. As I spend much time in the Swedish mountains I got it as a gift from her. The fact that it already contained her ex libris made it extra special.
Kastanjeallén by Dea Trier Mørch
My mother has selected a small book canon which all her children are getting, and out of those this one is probably my favourite. The way it describes life from a child’s point of view is not unlike Jansson’s The Summer Book.
Bröderna Lejonhjärta (Brothers Lionheart) by Astrid Lindgren
Death, courage and love. This is one of the bravest children’s book I know.
Visor och ballader by Dan Andersson
Poetry by Dan Andersson, one of my favourite poets.
The hunting of the snark by Lewis Carroll
I’m not sure why I love this nonsense poem so much but I do, especially the description of the sea chart without the least vestige of land. My edition has Tove Jansson’s illustrations in it which of course makes it particularly good.
Århundradets kärlekshistoria (Love story of a century) by Märta Tikkanen
Memoir of a dysfunctional marriage in lyrical form, this one is a classic.
Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh
I have read this one so many times that I had to replace my original softcover edition which was falling apart. Admittedly a slightly weird book for a teenage obsession but a perfect antidote to all the math hating protagonists in children’s and YA literature. (Why do authors keep using this trope? No wonder that children conclude that math ability is something you are born with rather than something you learn).
Antarktisboken ( The White Desert: The official account of the Norwegian–British–Swedish Antarctic Expedition) by John Giæver and others
I love the Arctic and the Antarctic but have always been more interested in the science part than in the patriotic flag-planting adventures. This account from a Norwegian-British-Swedish research expedition to Queen Maud Land in 1949-1952 is thus perfect.
How the universe got its spots
Well-written memoir/diary with interesting musings on cosmology. I got it as a gift from a friend at my dissertation which makes it extra special.