Friday, August 31, 2007


The temperature has been over 100 the past few days -- 105 yesterday if Yahoo's weather report is to be believed. And yesterday the air conditioner broke down. Aaaaarrrrrgh! It's too hot to write. It's even too hot to read -- well, anything that takes much concentration.

But the AC guy has finally called back and scheduled our repair for tomorrow, so my son and I are now free to spend the rest of the day at the blessedly cool public library. I think I'll read a book while I'm there.

Monday, August 27, 2007

What are you reading?

My mother says that when I was a tiny girl I would usually respond to an adult's friendly questions with what she called, "your dirty look." Her interpretation of my reaction was that I probably thought the inquiring adult was stupid. Could be. I don't remember some of the instances she recalls, but I do know that I always hated being questioned by adults, partly because the questions were inane, but mostly because a polite and respectful child was always required to answer them. (And it didn't help that I was extremely shy.)

The question I most despised was, "What are you reading?" Since I always carried a book (and usually had my nose in it), I encountered this one a lot. "A book," would have been my preferred reply, but I had already figured out that this would be considered a smart mouth reply. So usually an awkward silence would ensue. I hated having to give them a title because it seemed such a breach of the intimate union between author and reader. Besides, my interrogator might then ask the second most common question, "Is it good?"* AND I KNEW THEY WERE NOT REALLY INTERESTED!!!

The life of a child is so much more intense than an adult's.

When I grew a bit older, I was able to steel myself to holding up my book in stony silence so that they could read the title for themselves. That was usually an effective conversation stopper and allowed me to get back to my reading.

Nowadays, I'm a bit more laid back. Though I still have a slight aversion to giving out my title, I have mastered the vague though polite reply ("Oh, just a novel.") -- unless I'm speaking to another book person, in which case I'm enthusiastically voluble.

It's probably a safe assumption that anyone reading this blog is a book person, so I will tell you what I am reading right now.

Naturally, I have several books in progress. (When I mentioned this to my mom, it rather startled her. She is not much of a reader, so she couldn't see how I could keep them all straight. However, she is herself an excellent multi-tasker in other fields.)

  1. The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov (because I was shelving the paperback science fiction)
  2. Never Done: A History of American Housework by Sussan Strasser (because I'm a career housewife)
  3. Grandmother Had No Name by Alice P. Lin (because it caught my eye as I was sitting next to the biography shelf with the cat in my lap)
  4. The Worm Book by Loren Nancarrow (because I'd read about Sister Mary Martha's worm farm here and here -- btw, that's a very strange blog!)
  5. Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman (because Rhinemouse referred to it)
  6. The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land by Dianna Wynne Jones (because I bought it at Mythcon)
  7. Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI (because B-16 is so cool!)

Hmm. That list makes it look like I read mostly nonfiction -- which I don't. I just finished a big stack of novels. But at any rate, you can see that I'm pretty omniverous.

*"No, I chose it because it is wretchedly boring." That's what I'd be thinking. I would never have said it out loud.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Balancing It Out

Kat over at No Fighting, No Biting! reacts to a poll which found, among other things, that one in four adults read no books at all in the past year:

When I read statistics showing that the average American watches 2 hours of TV daily then I feel sad because some poor, brain-dead kid must be watching 10+ hours a day to make up for our TV-free home. But the opposite is true as well, if we are reading 4-8 books a day, then there are people who haven't read a book in over a decade for 9 books a year to be the average. Okay, the stats above are about adults. But, sheesh, I read at least 6 books a week.
It sounds like she is also raising her own little crew of bibliophagists:
I certainly like what I see when all the kids are sprawled on the floor reading, looking at pictures, or in the case of Timmy, chewing on books. Hopefully, I am raising a house full of readers, ones who will snuggle down on the sofa with history, science, and good murder mysteries.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I Stumble Over John Donne

Among the many authors whom I have never read is John Donne. I mention this more in the nature of a confession than as a boast. It would not be accurate to say that I have read no Donne at all, because many quotations from his work are quite familiar to me. I must have met them in other works or in anthologies of poetry and suchlike.

And of course I knew that Harriet Vane in Gaudy Night liked Donne, so I’d always meant to get around to reading him someday. (One of my little hobbies is reading books mentioned in, or read by the characters of, my favorite novels. I can think of no other good reason for reading Pilgrim’s Progress than that it was a favorite of the March girls in Little Women!)

Anyway, The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne is now sitting on my stack of Books to Read Soon, and the way it happened is this:

I was shelving in the literature section and opened the book at random. My eye fell upon poem #2 in a series of seven Holy Sonnets.


Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which alwayes is All every where,
Which cannot sinne, and yet all sinnes must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot chuse but die,
Loe, faithfull Virgin, yeelds himselfe to lye
In prison, in thy wombe; and though he there
Can take no sinne, nor thou give, yet he’will weare
Taken from thence, flesh, which deaths force may trie
Ere by the spheares time was created, thou
Wast in his mind, who is thy Sonne, and Brother;
Whom thou conceiv’st, conceive’d; yea thou art now
Thy Makers maker, and thy Fathers mother;
Thou’hast light in darke; and shutst in little roome,
Immensity cloystered in thy deare womb.
Well, this simply blew me away -- that he should be able to encapsulate the immensity of the Incarnation in this short little poem as well as the consequent sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

So I turned to the book’s intro to relieve my ignorance about the author. (I really don’t know how I managed to graduate as an English major while yet remaining innocent of so many well known writers.) I read that he came of a Roman Catholic family which clung to its faith despite persecution. (His mother was a grand-neice of St. Thomas More.) Many of his closer relatives were exiled or executed for religious reasons. Donne’s first teachers were Jesuits. He later studied at Oxford and Cambridge but could not obtain a degree since he could not take the required Oath of Supremacy. Alas, he eventually went over to the Church of England, though I guess no one knows the precise reason. He wrote two anti-Catholic polemics in 1610 and 1611 and became a C of E clergyman in 1615. It must have improved his financial situation which was pretty dire. Poor fellow.

But I’ve now put him at the top of my To Read pile because he has again nabbed my attention.

Last night my son and I were rewatching the movie version of 84 Charing Cross Road. (It is, by the way, a remarkably good adaptation of a book which, being a series of letters, must have been very difficult to dramatize.) At one point Helene, who has been gifted with a copy of the same Modern Library collection of John Donne that I have, decides to read aloud one of his sermons. This exact scene is not in the book, but thanks to Google, I’ve been able to copy the quotation:
All mankind is one volume. When one man dies, one chapter is torn out of the book and translated into a better language. And every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators. Some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice. But God's hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to another.
Is that not a wonderful image? Is it any surprise that Catholic Biblophagist must now sit down and read this fellow?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Sensible Man!

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes."
-- Desiderius Erasmus

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Origin of the Dufflepuds

Much unpacking has been going on in BiblioLand. My husband's science books made it onto the shelves yesterday. Now the center island of bookcases is full. I also discovered an overlooked box of books which had to be interfiled with the history section. Much book shifting ensued.

The very last book to come out of the box was Pliny's Natural History, edited by Loyd Haberly. Opening the book at random, my eye fell on the following:

[Ctesias] also speaks of another race of men who are known as Monocoli who have only one leg but are able to leap with surprising agility. The same people are also called Sciapodae because they are in the habit of lying on their backs during the time of the extreme heat, and protect themselves from the sun by the shade of their feet.
Well! I hadn't realized that the Dufflepuds were another one of C.S. Lewis' borrowings. But I'm an ignorant wight, so I won't be surprised if everyone else already knows this. As you can tell, I've never sat down and read all the way through even this condesed version of the Historia Naturalis.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


In honor of George Bryan Polivka's high seas adventure novel, The Legend of the Firefish (about which I know nothing except what I've just read on Amazon), D.G.D. Davidson posts the funniest and silliest pirate story ever, The Ballad of Icabod the Scourge.

An’ we all quaked with fear, cuz we saw some o’ the meanest pirates ever in that lot--there was the wicked Gravy Crocket, who was known always to liquefy ‘is food before eatin’ it; next to ‘im was ‘is infamous lady-friend, Madame Puree; and there was also Sojourner Lies, one o’ the nastiest woman pirates on all the high seas, armed to the teeth with two sabers, two pistols, and a knife in each boot; there was also Abraham Lynchin, Napoleon Blowyouapart, Thomas Slobbs, and another woman pirate named Florid Nightingale, who had a beet-red face but could sing like a songbird--right before she cut yer throat!
Be careful, since the decks are awash with blood and puns!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Patron Saint for Catholic Bibliophagist

The Man Who Loved Books
by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Trina S. Hyman, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, NY, 1981.

I sometimes envy my children their childhood. They grew up with book-buying parents. My own parents were proud of my reading ability, and even took me to the library to check out books. But I do not remember our family having any books except the World Book and Childcraft, and I don't think I had any books of my own until sixth grade when I was tapped by my teacher to join an after school reading group which read and discussed children's classics. And we got to keep the books!

I don't really remember anything about the meetings or the discussions, but I still have a vivid mental image of some of those paperback books: A Christmas Carol, slim and grey; Huckleberry Finn, yellow, brown, and white, radiating the hot Missouri sun; and Little Women, whose pink cover, with its illo of the March sisters grouped around their mother, was a treasured keepsake long after the book itself had fallen apart from much reading. Those paperbacks were the beginning of my own personal library.

My own children had a very different experience growing up. For one thing, their mother had an enormous collection of children's books. (I'd collected them long before I had kids -- even before I had any intention of marrying -- because I like children's lit.) So there was lots of stuff at home for them to read or have read to them. And of course we bought them books as presents on all major gift-giving occasions. But the other major difference was a formative period in their youth when we instituted The Monthly Book Treat. Once a month we'd take them to a very good children's book shop in our area and allow each of them to choose one book for their own private collections.

Obviously, this took place during a rather flush period of our family's financial life. I doubt if it went on for more than a year, but it seems to have been successful in inculcating the bookbuying habit among our progeny.

If you too are trying to raise a brood of little bibliopahgists, you cannot do better than to read about St. Columba, the subject of The Man Who Loved Books. Columba lived at a time when "books were still such a new thing in Ireland, they were hard to come by. If someone wanted to read a new book, he might have to walk the length of the land just to find one. If he wanted to own the book, he would have to copy it by hand."

Thanks to the timely injunction of a prophet, Columba learned to read early. The letters of the alphabet were baked inside a cake, and as soon he'd eaten and digested it he began reading and writing. When he grew up, Columba was determined to read every book in Ireland and to make his own copy of every book he read. But most books were owned by monasteries which sometimes they hid their books from Columba because the monks were proud of owning the only copy of a work.

In one instance Columba's good friend Finian allowed him to read a new book which had just been brought back from Rome, but stipulated that he must not copy it. But the temptation was too much for Columba who secretly sneaked into the library every night to make his own copy. Just as Columba finished it, Finian discovered his deceit.

Both men claimed ownership of the new copy. Columba insisted that the High King judge the case, but the king ruled against him saying, "To every cow belongs her calf, and to every book its son-book." Columba swore to be avenged. His sympathetic kinsfolk fought and killed 3,000 of the High King's men. Then Columba's temper died down and he was SORRY. (You see, there really is going to be a moral to this story!)

The worst penance Columba could think of was to banish himself from Ireland so he sailed to Iona where he built his own monastery. He traveled, preached, built churches, made copies of the Bible, and even converted the King of Scotland. But he missed the joy of seeing new books. (Personally, I think that must have been an even harder punishment than banishment.)

Jean Fritz also recounts some of Columba's later adventures such as his mediation of a dispute between the bards and the kings of Ireland. She says that Columba died doing what he liked best, copying a book. Not a bad way to go.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back to the Future

Today I was unpacking the paperback fantasy and science fiction. My goodness, some of these are old! The cover prices on these are twenty-five to thirty-five cents.

(I bought these used, of course. I'm not that old! )

I am charmed by the cover art . As usual, it has almost nothing to do with the contents of the novel, a tradition upheld by many publishers even unto the present day.

Handling these and others in my collection brought back many memories of the future as it used to exist. It was a hopeful place by and large.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Book Inscriptions

I recently reread 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff which is an epistolary love story between a brash American writer (poor, but with an antiquarian taste in literature) and an English bookshop which supplies her with beautiful old volumes which she cannot find in the United States.

The book opens in 1949 when meat, eggs, and other foodstuffs were still being rationed in England as a result of World War II. When Helene finds out about these restrictions ("2 ounces of meat per family per week and one egg per person per month"), she is appalled and arranges to send food parcels to the shop's staff through a company in Denmark. The book chronicles her relationship with the people in the shop through 1969. At one point they send her a copy of Elizabethan Poets, a beautiful book "with pages edged all round in gold" as a gift. In her thank you letter she writes,

I wish you hadn't been so over-courteous about putting the inscription on a card instead of on the flyleaf. It's the bookseller coming out in you all, you were afraid you'd decrease its value. You would have increased it for the present owner. (And possibly for the future owner. I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins, I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned, and reading pasages some one long gone has called my attention to.)
So do I. Many of the used books in my library have inscriptions. Most are simply the name of the previous owner, with perhaps a date.

C.W. Ihle. June 28, 1907.

That's an odd surname. Is it an abbreviation?

A few include addresses or phone numbers. I wonder what Mrs. Ellwood N. Hough (or, more likely, her heirs) would think upon receiving a mysterious postcard with the message, "I have your copy of Mamma's Boarding House." And why did she get rid of that book anyway? Or was her library junked by television-watching offspring after she went to that great library in the sky?

A copy of The Colleges of Oxford by Andrew Clark M.A is inscribed to

With his wife’s dearest love
Sept 27th/92 (That's 1892, by the way; the book was published in 1891.)

Was she interested in Oxford too? Or was she sweetly indulging her husband's favorite hobby horse?

And what is the story behind the inscription in Shakespeare's Songs and Poems?

With the hope that you'll be kept so busy reading these songs you won't have time to sing them. . .

Why Rome was written in 1930 by an Anglican gentleman who converted to Catholicism. My copy is inscribed by the author to:

Mr. George Longley

In appreciation of
past support
in my quest of God’s will.

Stephen Peabody Delany

I wonder if George Longley is mentioned in the book? I'll have to find out. (There are lots of books in my library I haven't yet read.)

I have a copy of Dr. Seuss's You're Only Old Once with the rueful inscription,

Dear Carmen
Welcome to MediCare!
Eddie & Ellen

I hope they are all well. My son worries that Carmen might be dead. But I prefer to think that she just laughed at Eddie's retirement gift before donning her red hat and heading off to an overseas adventure.

I recently stumbled across The Book Inscription Project which collects photos of books with interesting inscriptions. I thought this one was poignant:


Bought many years ago
to read in my old age
I now in old age, and
cannot easily read
this small print.
Buy a new bigger volume.

It was found in Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. You can see it here.

Monday, August 13, 2007


"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." --Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, August 12, 2007

An Ethical Issue in Harry Potter

D.G.D. Davidson at The Sci Fi Catholic has posted a second look at a certain ethical issue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with the able assistance of Snuffles the Dragon and Frederick the Unicorn, who take a Catholic position, and Penny the Phoenix, who represents the Pagan camp (". . . and I don't mean one of those limp-wristed neo-pagans either").

If you still haven't finished the book, be forewarned that Here There Be Spoilers!

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Book To Watch For

She found the Encyclopedia Americana and began with FEATHERS, which led her to PTERYLOGRAPHY, BIRD, and FLIGHT; and she was reading FLIGHT when Sister Librarian came over to her and, glancing over her shoulder, said, "Oh, are you interested in FLINCH?"

"No," Sister Bertrille said, "Perico said that feathers have feathers on their feathers, and I was looking it up--" Then she stopped, because she realized that FEATHERS was not what she was reading. . . . "Well," she said, "you know how an encyclopedia is: one thing leads to another--" The Fifteenth Pelican by Tere RĂ­os.
I know all about reading the encyclopedia. My parents bought The World Book Encyclopedia when I was in third grade. To me, this was the most exciting purchase of my childhood. You have to understand that my parents were not bookish people. So there weren’t a lot of books in our house. But they highly valued education, hence the encyclopedia.

I couldn’t believe our good fortune. All of those lovely unread volumes -- none of which would ever need to be returned to the public library. Over the next few years, I must have have read the entire thing, some parts over and over. Of course, I didn’t didn’t sit down with Volume A and read the whole thing straight through. I’d read a random article which would refer me to another topic and another and another . . .

Which is what happens to me now on the Internet. On link leads to another, and suddenly I’ll find myself on an amazingly cool blog or website having no idea how I got there.

Like the time, this past Lent, when I found my way to Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s blog, Standing on my Head. (The title refers to a G.K. Chesterton quote: "Any scene...can be more clearly and freshly seen if it is seen upside down.") He was running a series called "The Gargoyle Code," a take-off on The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Longenecker is certainly not the first person to attempt this, but he's definitely one of the more competent ones. You can read it here, but since it's in blog format, you'll have to scroll down to the very bottom to get the first installment. He's turning it into a book which I'll look forward to buying for my special collection of Catholic fiction. (Since he's already a published author, I feel pretty confident that it will actually make it into print.) Unfortunately, his laptop crashed at the end of July when the book was three quarters finished. Perhaps my fellow biblophagists can spare a few prayers that he will recover his data.

Today he had an interesting post on the interface between Catholicism and popular culture.

For my money, it is the products of popular culture that are making the most profound comments in our society. Of course there is lots of dross, but there is also a lot that is thoughtful, well made and very powerful.
. . . Good stories in movies and novels ultimately support a theistic view of the world. In his essay on fairy tales, J.R.R.Tolkien wrote about the 'eucatastrophe' or the 'happy or just ending' to a story. The happy ending to a story reminds us that life can have a happy ending, and if a happy ending, then meaning, and if meaning, then purpose, and if purpose, then a plan, and if a plan, then a planner.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Okay. I'm done now. (And I even made some fresh tomato sauce for tonight's pasta.)

Yes, I was a little apprehensive about going to Mythcon again after so many years. Was it the same as in the old days? Yes and no.

It was different in that I knew almost no one at the con except Swan Lady with whom I'd made the seven hour drive from Southern California to Berkeley. I felt oddly invisible, somewhat like Scrooge trailing round after the Ghost of Christmas Present. I don't mean to imply that people ignored me, but I realized that I had no links and no "history" with anyone present. It gave an oddly light feeling to the con.

When scanning name tags I did see a few vaguely familiar names: folk who'd written stuff or done fantasy art work, people I must have heard friends mention in the past.

The other difference was that I'd never heard of any of the finalists for the Mythopoeic Awards. It's not surprising that I didn't know they were finalists since I had pretty much dropped out of these circles. But I had never even heard of any of these titles or authors. Except for Tim Powers, of course, whose recently published Three Days to Never did not -- alas! -- win the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. But now I have some nice new titles to look up at the public library. And I will probably try to buy copies of The Ring of Words by Peter Gilliver, et al., which is about Tolkien's work on the OED and Gemstone of Paradise by G. Ronald Murphy whose presentation "The Holy Grail in Wolfram's Parzival," has inspired me to read both his book and Wolfram's.

Um, I don't think we had papers about "the erotic life of Earthsea" or "slash fiction from Lord of the Rings fandom" in the old days, but perhaps I was too wrapped up with other things to notice.

Things that were the same?

They still have an opening procession.

I attended some really good panels, papers, and readings, but unfortunately missed some that were scheduled at the same time as other good stuff. I should especially mention a talk with recorded music given by David Bratman, "Music and Middle-earth."

They still close the Mythcon by singing "What do you do with a drunken Hobbit?"

And Mythies are still silly!

Among the evening festivities was "Lord of the Ringos," the Tolkien musical that the Beatles would have written. Even I, who spent the '60s with my nose in a book and never got into the whole Beatles thing, had absorbed enough background radiation from the culture to find this immensely funny.

And the Not Ready For Mythcon Players presented an extremely brief and impromptu take-off on the J.K. Rowlings books in which "Harry Trotter" is sent by "Applecore" (who promptly falls over and dies) to pick up seven magical items from the local wizardly convenience store . As far as I can remember the seven segments were titled:

  • Harry Trotter and the Sorcerer's Scone
  • Harry Trotter and the Cauldron of Sea Crabs
  • Harry Trotter and the Poisoner of Marzipan
  • Harry Trotter and the Giblets of Fire
  • Harry Trotter and the Order of the Fish Sticks
  • Harry Trotter and the Half Blood-Orange
  • Harry Trotter and the Deathly Marshmallows
Someone narrated the stories while the players, costumed in bed sheets, mimed the action. In the exciting denouement Harry Trotter duels the Voldemort character with Applecore's credit card.

Not silly, but even more delightful, was a concert by a musical group called Broceliande whose concert included musical settings of Tolkien's poems which appeared in their album The Starlit Jewel (now unfortunately out of print). They also play "Celtic music from the British isles and the Medieval and Renaissance music of the European courts and countrysides, with an emphasis on music inspired by or traditionally performed during each of the four seasons." They are sooo good! I don't usually buy CDs (that was always my husband's job), but I bought two of theirs.

They played many non-Tolkien pieces including a Cantiga Medley (Court of Alfonso X, 12th c.), a favorite which I hadn't heard since our record player broke during the Northridge earthquake of '94. A tiny clip of it is on their website.

Guest of Honor Ellen Kushner gave a one woman show, "Thomas the Rhymer," based on her Mythopoeic Fantasy Award-winning novel. It was very enjoyable. I'd read her book in preparation for Mythcon and had wished I knew more about ballads, especially what they sounded like. So this was perfect programming for me.

Both she and Delia Sherman were very gracious co-Guests of Honor who brought much to the various presentations and panels in which they participated. At Sunday night's banquet they were ceremonially presented with Food Sculptures -- a new (to me) Mythcon tradition in which various individuals construct and present to the Guest of Honor artistic works created from banquet components, most of them having a punning title. My favorite was "Rhombus the Timer," using one of the delicious butternut squash filled ravioli to construct a little clock face. It was a dreaful pun on Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer.

Delia Sherman's guest of honor speech was warmly received. At one point she listed the sorts of books she was reading when she was young and they were all books I had read and loved -- but that could probably have been said by everyone else in the audience too!

Glen Goodknight, the founder of the Mythopoeic Society, attended the banquet. Apparently he's been away from active participation in the Society for some time. Everyone seemed glad to see him, and his speech commemorating the founding of the Society 40 years ago was strongly applauded. My husband, who had been very active in the Society in its early days, had known Glen fairly well. Glen had not heard of his death until that evening and kindly made an opportunity to offer condolences.

Sherwood Smith spoke about her joyful discovery of the Mythopoeic Society during her teens. Her description of finally finding other people like herself resonated with everyone there. At the time she was innocently unaware of the hazards of her bus route to attend discussion meetings, which required an hour long wait in the middle of Skid Row in order to transfer to another bus. I suppose most of us didn't have to work that hard to get to meetings, but I dare say many of us would have been willing to.

Well, there is probably more to tell about, but I've got an appointment in 15 minutes. I must bustle!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Well, I'm back.

. . . as Samwise said at the end of Lord of the Rings. And as soon as I wash the dishes that piled up while I was gone; scoop the cat's litterbox; do the laundry; and clean the sticky stuff on the kitchen floor, I'll tell you all about Mythcon.

And I guess I'd better pick all the tomatos that got ripe while I was gone too.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

I'm off!

I'm off on a rather daring adventure, something I haven't done in more than twenty years. I'm going to Mythcon!

The Mythopoeic Society, founded in 1967, is a literary group which was organized to discuss the
works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams, as well as other works of myth and fantasy. I joined in 1970 or '71 at which time it was made abundantly clear to me by the old guard that I had already missed the real Golden Age of the Society and such legendary exploits as The Bed Races of Mythcon I. (Why are the leaves always falling in Lorien?) But as it turned out, there were lots of good adventures still to come.

I was shanghaied, um, introduced to the Society by Dragon Lady, a girl in my dorm who, to use Lewis' phrase, had read "all the right books." Having just emerged from the parched desert of high school where no one I knew was a reader (much less a reader of Tolkien), I did not put up much of a struggle when she told me, "You know, after attending three meetings you have to join." (This was after having dragged me to several of them!) As it turned out, it was through Dragon Lady and the Mythopoeic Society that I met my future husband and the people who would become my closest and dearest friends.
It was like coming home at last.

I loved being in a group where I could wear long hair, long skirts -- in fact costumes -- which seemed so much more comfortable, reasonable, and natural than the dreadful things the rest of the world was wearing right then. And the element of pure play, which my age-mates seemed to have abandoned on entering junior high school, was here embraced by members of all ages. I remember the youthful exuberence with which we celebrated Bilbo & Frodo's birthdays at our annual Fall Picnic and the destruction of the One Ring at the Spring Picnic. We also indulged in the joy of innocent word play, a mirth that was not based on mockery or scorn.

But most of all, I loved the monthly meetings where we discussed books! One of the things that most impressed me was that we were from very different age groups, backgrounds, and levels of experience. But none of that mattered during our discussions where people much older than I (though probably younger than I am now) listened respectfully to the youngest members and engaged them as individuals rather than as types. (Sort of like the Internet, only face to face.)

Ah, the golden glow of memory.

But my ride is driving up the street. I'm off on the road with dwarves!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Oh, my goodness! Why have I never stumbled on this before? Unshelved is a daily comic strip set in a public library.

From their website:

Writer Gene Ambaum (the made-up name of a real-life librarian) and co-writer and artist Bill Barnes have been publishing since February 16, 2002. Some of the stories are made up, some of them are based on real life, and some are absolutely true stories sent to us from our readers. And the stranger the story, the more likely it is to be true.
Here is the beginning of a weeklong series comparing libraries to the Internet, which also spoofs the popular Mac commercials.

This is the beginning of a segment in which Dewey, the YA librarian, meets the only kid in America who hasn't read Harry Potter.

And here's the one with which I, as a bibliophagist, most identify. If you don't click on any of the others, please click on this one.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to buy their books!