Books live. Books endure and prevail. Books are printed humanity. Books are the journal of the human race. As we age, we become all the ages we once had. And by exploring books, we become everything we have read.
“Reading gives us a place to go when we need to stay where we are,” writes Mason Cooley. His insight is a brief echo of Emily Dickinson’s 1873 poem:
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away –
Nor any courier like a page
From Prancing Poetry —
This crossing that the poorest take
Without oppressing de Toll —
How frugal is the Chariot
Who carries a human soul.
The San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books, with a new home at USD, returns Saturday, August 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No surprise there, as San Diego is consistently ranked by Amazon as one of the most read in the country. Cities. I’ll be signing my books and I’d like to meet you there.
What do you get when you cross a gorilla with a clay worker? You end up with a Hairy Potter. We recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter at the Sorcerer’s Stoneby British author JK Rowling.
Jobless and living on state benefits, single mother Rowling wrote much of her first novel sitting in local Edinburgh cafes or typing on a manual typewriter in her sister’s house. Harry Potter at the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected by 12 publishers before being accepted by Bloomsbury Publishing – and only then because the CEO’s 8-year-old daughter insisted. By the time she had completed six of the seven books in her projected series, Rowling was named Britain’s greatest living writer – and she certainly became the wealthiest by far.
Lewis Carroll published his on the other side of the mirror fantasy novel on December 27, 1871, but the year was listed as 1872, so we are celebrating its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. In this sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Alice again enters a fantasy world, this time climbing through a mirror.
Carroll showed a particular aptitude for conjuring up mixed words by merging two words and eliminating parts of one or both. He called these inventions portmanteau words because he liked to put two words together into one while the clothes are piled up in a coat rack or a duffel bag. The most famous example of Lewis Carroll’s easy gift for mixing is his poem “Jabberwocky”, in on the other side of the mirror. This most familiar absurd verse begins:
‘Twas brillig, and the toves slithy
Did he twirl and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
When Alice asks Humpty Dumpty to explain the word sly, he replies, “Well sly means ‘soft and viscous.’ You see, it’s like a coat rack – there are two meanings rolled into one word. The Egg Head (Soon to Be an Omelet) Performs Later mummy: “Well, mummy is ‘frail and miserable’ (there’s another portmanteau for you). Two words that later appear in “Jabberwocky” have become enshrined in English dictionaries – chuckle (“laugh” + “sniff”) and galumping (“gallop” + “triumph”):
When we eat today Frogquaff Knob juice and fruitopiahave brunch (“breakfast” + “lunch”), take a stay (“stay” + “vacation”) rather than staying in a motel (“motor” + “hotel”), get on our moped (“motor” + “pedal”), deplore the smog (“smoke” + “fog”), learn from webinars (“web” + “seminars”), play fictional (“fiction” + “dictionary”), read Freakonomics (“freak” + “economy”), write to a enemy (“friend” + “enemy”), save money with let’s group (“group” + “coupons”), getting hammered by stagflation (“stagnation” + “inflation”) and avoid covidiotes (“COVID” + “idiots”), we imbibe Lewis Carroll gigantic (“giant” + “huge”) revels in portmanteau words.
Recently Rohana Khattal, 16, from Islamabad, Pakistan coined the word suitcase forgetful to describe a billionaire who is oblivious to inequality. Forgot won The Learning Network’s “Make Up a Word” challenge.