Lecturer to discuss ‘Bacon as Bookmarks’

By Linda Nguyen

Staff Writer

There are many different ways to mark your place in a book: torn-out sheets of paper, sticky notes and dog-earing pages. Some even us bacon.

Anne Fadiman says so.

Fadiman, a Yale English professor and the author of “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall down” and “Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader,” will present a lecture titled “Bacon as Bookmarks: Engrossed in the Love of Reading,” as the annual Beall-Russell lecture.

The lecture will take place at 3 p.m. Monday in 510 Cashion Academic Center.

The Beall-Russell Lectures in the Humanities were established in 1982 as a result of a financial gift from Virginia Ball, who named the lectures after two alumnae: her mother, Ms. John A. Beall, a former dean of women at Baylor named Lily Russell, both of whom graduated in 1910.

The lecture will focus on people-book interactions.

“My lecture is about how people interact physically with their books,” Fadiman said.

“I don’t want to give too much away. It ranges from someone who used bacon for bookmarks to Alexander the Great. Most of it is light-hearted, but I do have an ultimately serious message. Being able to interact with a physical book is different from how we interact with a digital book, and I hope that print will survive.”

Fadiman’s lecture is based onf her most recent essay collection: “Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader.”

Ex libris is Latin for “from the library of.”

“You’ll see it on old-fashioned book plates,” Fadiman said. “It’ll say ‘ex libris’ and the person who owns the book. It was about my relationship with my library.”

Fadiman said she started writing the essays for the collection when she was confined to bed for eight months due to a problematic second pregnancy.

“I needed something to write about,” Fadiman said. “Whatever would be at my fingertips.”

Fadiman said she started with the first essay in the book, which describes a decision she and her husband made about their books.

“I started with my essay on how my husband and I merged our libraries when we got married,” Fadiman said.

“He’s also a writer, so we have a lot of books. At first we had our books on opposite sides, but eventually we decided we were married, so we should marry our libraries as well.”

Fadiman said the first essay set the tone for the rest of her essays in the collection.

Dr. Jonathan Tran, associate professor of religion, will introduce Fadiman at the Beall-Russell Lecture. “It’s a beautiful hymn to books,” Tran said. “And for those of us who love books, you relish just reading it.”

Tran, who uses Fadiman’s book, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” in his bioethics class, said he and his students really enjoy Fadiman’s work.

“She writes in this highly accessible way that’s also very attractive and engaging, which is kind of a lost art in academia,” Tran said.

The event is free and open to the public.