Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

writing

 

The First Annual (of many, I suspect) San Diego Festival of Books, held two weeks ago at Liberty Station in Point Loma, was a prodigious success. Almost 10,000 bibliophiles (“book lovers”) made a joyful noise unto the printed page at the most jubilant event in praise of books ever held in San Diego.

And no wonder: San Diego is a terrific book town, ranked tenth on Amazon’s 2016 Top 20 Most Well Read Cities list. In America’s Finest City, 64% of adults visit a bookstore every three months, 36% purchased a book online this past year, 33% are college graduates and 40% have children at home.

At the Festival, talks by illuminati such as basketball icon and author Bill Walton, panel discussions and other events were packed, and people stood in line at the book stores and in front of the booths in Authors Alley. Personally, I have never been so lovingly and unstintingly slammed at a book table. I literally could not get up from my chair for six hours because so many of you wanted to speak with me about what this column means to you, and I freely confessed to you that writing it is the most fun I have all and each week. A thousand thanks for validating my mission of teachership.

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William Shakespeare wrote in “As You Like It,” “The web of life is like a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” Just three days before the Festival of Books, one of the brightest literary lights in the San Diego heavens went out. New York Times best-selling author Susan Vreeland, a University City resident, died at age 71.

Eleven years ago, I attended the annual San Diego Book Awards, in which local writers honor other writers for their work in various categories. Widely known and much beloved for books such as “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” and “The Passion of Artemisia,” Susan won the short fiction award for her “Life Studies” and garnered the 2006 Theodore Geisel Award, the literary equivalent of Best in Show.”

I was so moved by Susan’s extemporaneous acceptance speech that, immediately after, I asked her to write down her thoughts and share them with me so that one day I could share them with you. She graciously and gracefully complied, and I ask you to respond to the challenge she issues at the end of her remarks:

“’Life Studies’ is my fourth work of fiction dealing with art. Why do I keep returning to art themes? Because art allows us to imagine and how precious the imagination is not just to ourselves as writers, but to our culture.

“Without imagination we cannot live lives beyond our own. We cannot put ourselves in other people’s skin, and when that happens, we cannot learn compassion. But each time we enter imaginatively into the life of another through art and literature, it’s a small step upwards in the elevation of the human race.

“Without compassion, then community, commitment, loving kindness, human understanding and respect all shrivel. Individuals become isolated, the isolated turn cruel and the tragic hovers in the form of holocausts and terrorism. Art and literature are antidotes to that.

“That is why the decline of reading literature in America ought to be a vital concern for all. To counter that, I invite you to give a book between now and next year’s Book Awards to an adult who you suspect is not a reader. Not for an occasion. Let the book itself be the occasion. This doesn’t have to be a new book, but a book carefully selected for a thoughtfully chosen person. We in this room know what the right book at the right time in a life can do. Many people have not had that experience. So I challenge you to join with me in giving one book to one person this year.”

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On August 21, for the first time in 99 years, the shadow of a total solar eclipse arced across the United States from coast to coast. Millions of people throughout our fair land stopped looking down at their smart phones and looked up at the heavens.

Notice how, as we delete the first and last letters of each word, eclipse shrinks into smaller words the same way that the moon gradually shrinks the sun:

ECLIPSE becomes CLIPS becomes LIP becomes I.