Rumi and Rilke

I've been delving slightly and slowly into both of these poets' writings. So far my favorite from Rumi is a poem called Green Ears in The Essential Rumi. It's a long poem, and I'll give a few short quotes:

"...Manyness/ is having sixty different emotions./Unity is peace, and silence." (p. 241)

"This present thirst is your real intelligence,/not the back-and-forth, mercurial brightness,/Discursiveness dies and gets up in the grave.//This contemplative joy does not./Scholarly knowledge is a vertito, an exhausted famousness./Listening is better." (p. 242)

"Love is the falconer, your king." (p. 243)


Rilke's book Letters to a Young Poet is astonishing. To collect quotes would be to xerox almost the whole thing. It is his celebration of solitude that I find most compelling. But still, a few quotes:

"Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn't force its sap and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast." (p. 24)

"...the love that consists in this: that two solitudes protect and border and greet each other." (p. 78)

"We are solitary. We can delude ourselves about this and act as if it were not true. That is all. But how much better it is to recognize that we are alonge; yes, even to begin from this realization. It will, of course, make us dizzy; for all points that our eyes used to rest on are taken away from us, there is no longer anything near us, and everything far away in infinitely far. [...] We must accept our reality as vastly as we possibly can; everything, even the unprecedented, must be possible within it." (p. 87-88)

Toby Tyler

Toby Tyler by James Otis
This comes up in children's reading evidence as a popular book in the 1920s. Adults talk about it as a "dime novel alternative." It's one of those classic books that talk constantly about how immoral the character is for running away to the circus and how much he regrets it, while reveling in the circus atmosphere, the monkeys, horses, elephants, circus freak show performers... Toby is indeed a bad and remorseful boy who, at the end of the book, happily rejoins the minister who took him in when his parents died. But along the way, you get an adventuresome ride through circus life.

This was first published in 1880, but the edition I have is 1923, and there are "shadow" illustrations at the bottom and side margins of many pages, in a mustard yellow color that belie the tension in the text. While the text is all about Toby's remorse, the illustrations show circus performer, animal and human, in exciting costumes and doing daring tricks. Nowhere is Toby's sorrowful face portrayed in the illustrations.

For future reference


Dority, Rethinking Information Work: Career Fuide for Librarians and Other Professionals

A good book to refer students to when they are facing big career decisions in LIS. Which seemingly everyone is as soon as they graduate, so it's practically universally useful.

McCarty, Willard, Humanities Computing
The SHARP newsletter reviewed this very favorably. This would be a great reference point for when the History of Children as Readers project is ready to go digital (or at least to proposal) for an NEH grant.


Books for the Fantasy Lit and Media Bibliography of suggested further reading:

Westfahl, Gary et al. Foods of the Gods: Eating and the Eaten in Fantasy and Science Fiction. University of Georgia Press: Athens and London, 1996.

Harrigan, Pat and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media. MIT Press: Cambridge, 2007.

quotes and novels

First, a quote I found in the gift shop of the Bodleian library of Oxford:

"'Tis the good reader that makes the book good."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Which is precisely why I'm researching the history of children as readers. I also went back to my old pal Roland Barthes, to see if I could scare up any good quotes about reading....

"If a book bores me, I have the courage, or cowardice, to drop it. [...] So if I read a book, it's because I want to."
--Roland Barthes, from The Grain of the Voice p. 220

Go Roland! I also searched for some quotes, and liked this one:

What do we ever get nowadays from reading to equal the excitement and the revelation in those first fourteen years?
--Greene, Graham, from Oxford Reference Online

Now to novels:

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

If addiction is the disease of our time, then Dessen's novel is very timely. It contains the usual introspection of her female protagonists. Ruby is saved from the memories of her alcoholic mother by helping someone else, who in the end will be her boyfriend. There are dark parts, but it's all smoothed out, as is characteristic of Dessen's enjoyable writing. I'd question how much sympathy a kid who had actually lived in Ruby's circumstances would have for Ruby, especially the aspect of the novel which includes Ruby being taken in by her (now wealthy) older sister, who married the founder of a social networking site. At over 400 pages, this is a commitment, but one I wasn't sorry to make.

Peeled by Joan Bauer

If you know Squashed, Rules of the Road, or any other of Bauer's works, then you know that she basically writes one very, very appealing story over and over again. This is no exception. Young girl and budding journalist joins small-town fight against fake "paranormal" events that are being staged by a big-town developer. And wins. Bauer is always a treat, even if her plots and characters are always similar. What she writes, she writes so well.

Ever by Gail Carson Levine
My favorite by Levine remains Dave at Night, which was pre-Ella Enchanted and so pre-Disney and princess books in her writing career. However, Ever is a good yarn. The questions it raises have to do with belief and religion. Olus, god of the winds, falls in love with a mortal girl, Kezi. Unfortunately, Kezi has just forfeited her life to save her aunt according to the laws of the god she and her family worships. We never meet this god, but we meet other gods and a spooky land of the dead inside a volcano. We are more told than shown that things are not as they appear, but when you're dealing with a heavy topic like religion, making the attempt to open the discussion at all in books for children is a good thing. The best sparkly romantic moments are when Kezi, herself a dancer, is flying on Olus' winds.