Bits and Bobs (the 1918 edition)


Public Speaking with Fran Lebowitz
Until last night I didn’t know who Fran Lebowitz was. I think I may have thought she was the photographer Annie Leibovitz. Turns out that isn’t the case. She is a writer. Martin Scorsese has made a wonderful, hilarious documentary about Lebowitz that consists mainly of her talking to Scorsese and clips of Q&A portions of her public lectures, including one conducted by Toni Morrison. You may not always agree with her point of view (although I do more often than not) but she is a total straight shooter and really, really funny. She is a wonderful literary, cultural throwback to another time. This is definitely worth watching.

1918Recently I reposted my “A Century of Books” list asking for your help to fill in a couple of holes I had on the list. I couldn’t find anything for 1911, 1918, 1921 and I was looking for something to bump DH Lawrence out of 1920. Many of you took the challenge and helped me find good stuff for each of those years except 1918. To be accurate, many of you suggested books for 1918 as well, but I had already read those fantastic books: My Antonia (Willa Cather), and The Return of the Soldier (Rebecca West), so I was still left with a 1918 hole.

That is until today when I saw a comment that Toward Infinity left on that post. TI pointed me towards Goodreads which allows one to do a search that returns the 200 most popular books (as rated by the Goodreads users who added the books to the GR database) for 1918. It really came up with some interesting titles.

  • A few I have already read: The Magnificent Ambersons (Booth Tarkington) and Eminent Victorians (Lytton Stratchey).
  • Many I wouldn’t want to read.
  • Some non-fiction that sounded kind of fascinating like one called American Negro Slavery–I can only imagine what the perspective might have been on that with only about 60 years separating the end of the Civil War and the publishing of the book.
  • I also could add a Bobbsey Twin book, or one of the Forsyte Saga, but I am the kind of person who needs to start at the beginning.

But I also came across  a few that really caught my eye. How could I, or any My Porch reader, pass up a book called Patricia Brent-Spinster (Herbert George Jenkins). And there was another one called Confessions of a Young Man (George Augustus Moore) that apparently has a gay theme–from 1918 no less. [Update: The Goodreads info on the Moore book seems to be wrong, it wasn’t published in 1918 and I’m not sure the theme is what the reviewer claims it is.] These are two that I am defnitely going to add to the list. Now if I can only find them.

Dodo Press
I couldn’t help but notice that several of the books on the 1918 list were published by the Dodo Press. If I had a better memory, I would have recalled that Elaine wrote about the imprint about a year and half ago. Looks like a great resource for finding all kinds of out of print stuff. I am going to have to spend some time exploring.

I hadn’t been on Goodreads for almost two years. I love it and I hate it. I love it because it is a great way to keep track of things. I hate it because it makes me go into OCD meltdown and consumes too much time when I could be doing something more interesting, like reading.

10 thoughts on “Bits and Bobs (the 1918 edition)

  1. Karen K. July 22, 2012 / 9:42 am

    Glad you found something from 1918! I love Gooreads too, I use it nearly every day. But it's very easy to sit there and surf instead of actually reading books. Sigh.

    And I'm so impressed that you're able to plan your reading by year. I'm keeping track of the books I read in 2012 by year, but I'm not limiting it to one per year. I have too many Victorians and too many books from the 21st century for my library's book groups.


  2. C.B. James July 22, 2012 / 11:44 am

    I can recommend Eminent Victorians somewhat. As I recall, it contains biographies of four people, yes. I red the first one and enjoyed it, but did not finish the rest. I have read George Moore, but not the title you mention. He's worth reading if you've never read him before, but I did not become an obsessive fan if you know what I mean.


  3. Kathleen July 22, 2012 / 1:56 pm

    I know what you mean about Goodreads. I also have a love/hate relationship with it.


  4. StuckInABook July 22, 2012 / 6:01 pm

    That finding-things-for-the-year thing will prove invaluable, thanks!

    And Dodo Press are the only Print-on-Demand publisher I will buy. Much nicer quality, and more tasteful, than the others.


  5. StuckInABook July 22, 2012 / 6:03 pm

    Oh, but it doesn't go before 1912… and the 1910s are my problem decade! Oh well.


  6. Karyn Reeves July 22, 2012 / 7:18 pm

    I went searching to see if I had a spare copy of Confessions of a Young Man, but unfortunately I have only the one fragile copy from 1939. But my Penguin edition does say the book was first published April, 1918 (revised Feb, 1926)*. There is no blurb so I cannot confirm if it has a gay theme, but I noticed this one line in the preface in which he describes his themes: 'It is also a book that may be described as a declaration of ideas and tastes, my love of the best things in modern literature and my love of the best things in modern painting, and my whilom weakness for subtle, passionate women.' (*Perhaps the book was written earlier – as 1886 is appended to the author's name – but first published in 1918, or perhaps this Penguin edition is wrong?)


  7. Thomas at My Porch July 22, 2012 / 9:21 pm

    Karen: I don't normally plan my reading for the year. It is Simon's maniacal A Century of Books that has me captive.

    CB: I liked EV enough, but not enough to get excited.

    Kathleen: What starts off as fun organizing turns into a black hole of time wasting.

    Simon: Good to know about Dodo.

    Karyn: I am pretty sure it wsa published in 1886. The e-copy I found today had a preface that was written in 1917. So that kind of blows 1918 out of the running.


  8. Nan July 29, 2012 / 11:21 am

    I know what you mean about goodreads! I spend a lot of time there reading *about* books when I want to be reading the actual books. :<) But I have gotten wonderful ideas, and met some authors I'd not heard of before.


  9. Molly Bolt August 19, 2012 / 8:27 am

    I have a copy of Patricia Brent Spinster (and the sequels!) at home in England. If you can wait till the end of September and still fancy it, I can bring it over…


  10. Thomas at My Porch August 22, 2012 / 9:37 am

    Nan: I suppose it is a way to browse for books when a bookstore isn't available.

    Molly: Yes please!


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