Sunday, March 10, 2024

It Was 20 Years Ago Today: Happy Birthday, Blob!

 20 years old! Surely this is forever in blog years. 1,184 posts. 

Here's that first blog entry dated March 11, 2004. Strangely, I remembered it as being a lot more interesting:


I'm a sucker for a good first line, but suddenly, I've got an attack of shyness and don't know where to begin. Earlier this week on the BBC website, there was a quiz on first lines in books. I got 6 out of the 10 -- blew an easy question by over thinking it. After the quiz, people were invited to write their own first line. I'll post mine here:

"Reminiscences just aren't for me. Over the years, I've found that looking back only aggravates my whiplash."

Actually, that's true and not true. When it comes to books, I'll reminisce till the cows come home. The book is the hook that throws my past into sharp relief for me. Recite a title and I can tell you when I read it, where I lived, what was going on in my life and other increasingly useless minutiae.

I'm crazy (not an understatement) about reading, but I like any kind of interaction with books. I'm really involved with right now, and have been "releasing" my books" into the wilds" of Central Missouri.

I recently applied for a part time job at a local bookstore, but didn't get the job. After many years, the manager is probably adept at recognizing unrestrained book lust. During the interview, when she asked if (!) I liked(!) to read, my response tone was somewhat similar to the Cookie Monster's. When asked about customer service, the fervor dissipated and I was once again mild-mannered Bybee, maybe a little vague: "Oh yes, customers. Well, they're uh, important, I guess." Naturally, this translated to: I'll wait on them if I'm not in the middle of a good chapter.
But never mind the bookstore. There's also the local library. And there's my own library, which would be an impressive start to any bookstore.


What the what?! I talked about loving books but didn't mention a single one! I talked about Bookcrossing??????? Good God, y'all. However, that was right on about enjoying any sort of interaction with books.

If I rewrote that first entry right now, I'd cut that first part about the book quiz and writing my own first line, and start with: "The book is the hook". AND THERE WOULD BE TITLES AND AUTHORS! AND CHARACTERS!!! I would also call the blog "The Book Is The Hook".

I do remember the sting and burn of not getting that local bookstore job. Good reflection and self-awareness in recognizing where I went sideways at the interview. 

Egad, that last bit about "never mind the bookstore". Way to trail off and fade out of my first blog post.

I do hope the second post was better, but now I'm afraid to look. Instead, I'm going to catapult 20 years into the future and talk about what I read in February, 2024:

1. Friends, Lovers, and the Big, Terrible Thing (memoir) -Matthew Perry. Reading this memoir after Matthew Perry's death was an eerie experience. For those who read it before he died, it probably landed as a rueful survivor's tale, cautiously feel-good. On the other side, it reads as a stark warning, along the lines of Sir Gawain's "I know that I will not live a fortnight".

2. What Is The Story of Romeo and Juliet? (nonfiction) -Max Bisantz. Give me a break. How does a person write a 108 page book about the most famous star-crossed lovers in the world, detailing all their incarnations back to the beginning, and never once mention Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film version? Even the 1936 version with ancient Leslie Howard and geriatric Norma Shearer playing the ill-fated teenagers got a mention. Boggles the mind. Still shaking my head. 

3.  Granny Smith Was Not An Apple (nonfiction) -Sarah Glenn Fortson. And that's right. She was Maria Ann Smith, an immigrant from England to Australia during the 19th century, who worked as an apple orchardist in both countries. She discovered an apple in Australia that was green and never turned red and was quite tart. She got to grafting, and finally produced an apple that was green but tart and sweet and perfect for pies. I thought of my book blogging friend Care while I was reading this informative and entertaining children's book.

4.  Eligible (novel) - Curtis Sittenfeld. A fun and frothy retelling of Pride and Prejudice, updated to the twenty-teens, and set in Cincinnati. I went into this one with some trepidation, but ended up liking it very much. The audiobook version read by Cassandra Clare adds to its sparkle.

5. Where the Crawdads Sing (novel) - Delia Owens. Read this one for book group. The nature writing in the novel is lovely, but the rest of it doesn't rise to that level. Skip the book and just watch the movie version, which is a bit more palatable.

6. I Must Be Dreaming (graphic novel) - Roz Chast. Since I've been keeping a dream journal off and on almost as long as I've been doing this blog,* I actively sought out Roz Chast's latest book about her dreams. To my surprise, we have a lot of the same dreams, like "Old and Pregnant", "I'm suddenly in charge of an infant", and "I can't find my hotel". In her book, she details dreams about Danny DeVito, Elizabeth Taylor and Henry Kissinger. At the end, she recommends some books about dreams and dreaming, including The Mind at Night by Andrea Rock, which has been on my TBR for about a year. Like Chast, I think it's cool that our brains generate these strange, kooky things while we sleep, and a graphic novel with dreams? So so cool. 

*In keeping with the theme of my blog, I have a series of intermittent posts labeled "Dreaming in Literature". 


Sam said...

Wow, Susan, congrats on making it through 20 years of book blogging. Yours is one of the very first blogs I remember reading and following, in fact. Has to be among the oldest book blogs out there. I feel sometimes as if I've been doing this forever, and you were close to three years in before I even started. Now you can never quit. lol

Bybee said...

Thanks, Sam! I think you're right that I can never quit.
Seems like only yesterday when Book Chase was a baby blog!