The Joy of Reprints

I just finished the reprint of The Unprejudiced Palate, one of the "Modern Library Food" series being brought to life by Ruth Reichl.

It was an enjoyable book: food writing, rather than a mere series of recipes. This was a man who truly enjoyed his food (it even costs him a wife!), and I suspect even writing about it was pleasurable for him. Because this was originally published in 1948, the chances of my running into it were slim; as a reprint, more people can enjoy this book (if not the recipes: I rather doubt I'll ever make my own wine or serve sweetbreads or tripe).

I've also recently read a book reprinted by A Common Reader. Several of my childhood favorites have gone out of print (Hugo and Josephine by Martha Gripe springs to mind). The concept of the reprint strikes me as one that should be encouraged more than it appears to be. Yes, some books would only find a few new readers. But others would find a whole new audience that loves them. What better fate for a book?

This year alone I've had the pleasure of introducing students to several of my favorites. Some (like White Ghost Summer) have lived on my shelves for years, bringing me much joy and happiness. Others (like The Great Good Thing) are recent finds. And nothing gives me greater happiness than a student asking not just to read a book, but asking where it can be bought so they can have that book. Sadly, several are not readily available (even on Alibris).

The question is, of course, who ponies up the money and the time and the resources? Do we allow Google to handle it? Quite frankly, despite Google's optimism, I'm not going to read a book on-line, nor do I have the printing equipment that would make downloading and printing for myself an option. So we rely on reprint houses, and second-hand bookstores to make these time-treasured books available to the general public for general consumption.

Would that there were more of these out there. Perhaps not all of them will appeal to me (or you) but enough will. If I win Lotto, I know what part of my winnings will go for: starting a reprinting press.


Notable Quotes

A recipe is just a story with a good meal at the end.
Pat Conroy


What are your mental snugglers?

There's nothing better than cuddling under the covers with a good book -- or watching a favorite movie/tv show. The mental break, the momentary "ahh... life is good" feeling is so necessary in today's frenetic world.

Alice and friends are listing some of theirs. What are yours?


Meeting Musings

Yesterday, I went down to NYC to hear my friend Jim Como speak as part of Narnia on Tour. He talked about "Believing in Narnia" and gave a good overview of why the Chronicles work as "first-rate fairy tale literature." One of the things he said struck me, and I've been thinking about it ever since: "Ultimately, Naria is about Hope. We hear a lot these days about Faith and Charity, but not that much about Hope."

How very true. And usually, it's hope, not Hope, as in "I hope I get it", and it's personal. But Big Picture Hope, Hope for the world and the future is not in evidence in our daily lives, in our daily thoughts, in our daily conversations. Perhaps it's time to change that, to talk about Hope, about What's Next and how it will be better.


Exactly how I feel...

The recent issue of Cites and Insights has an article/thinkpiece about life trumping blogging. In it, Walt cites this post at NexGen Librarian.

Of the six "what I learneds" in the post, three really resonate (the others made me think, but not quite as deeply):
1. Don't try and do more than you can do.

3. The 4o hour workweek is a farce.

5. F@#! living at the speed of today's technology.
Why these specifically? Because I've tried doing all of them. I spent a few years working two full-time jobs (only one of which paid) in addition to being a newsletter editor and sitting on several professional committees AND serving as the co-Chair of the school's self-evaluation committee. I often bring work home (including my work-issued laptop) and sit there, in my jammies in my living room, with a cup of cocoa or a bottle of wine, and finish what didn't get done during the day. And I have a 90+ feed Bloglines account and 6 e-mail accounts to monitor.

Since moving, though, I've made a conscious effort not to get over-involved, over-scheduled. It means less tv (and isn't that a good thing?), and being in bed, with a book, by 9pm at the latest, ready to read myself to sleep. It means taking a step back and not diving into the latest, the newest. And it means seriously thinking about what I'm doing and with whom: do I really want to spend this time on this activity? Often, the answer is "well.... you should...." but the desire isn't there. I'm giving myself permission to not do.

I suggest all of us do the same. I suspect we'll all be happier.