One year ago tomorrow, I started this blog. Nancy and I had seen Julie & Julia (in which a woman blogs about her plan to cook through the entire Julia Child cookbook in one year), and she told me then that I should start a blog about my writing plan. It sounded like another great idea I'd never get around to -- like the Tolkien opera, the Dickens game, and various novels whose nascent forms have lived in my head for decades -- until I got laid up with nothing to do for two weeks. Last year at this time I was ill; without any more details, let's just say that while I could barely get out of bed, my mind was as clear as usual, and crossword puzzles and movies get old after about twelve straight days. So I Googled instructions on starting a blog, found Blogspot, and started writing.
This is my 120th post, which means that I have averaged almost exactly one post every three days. At one point, I meant to start writing short posts more often with the little essays only every week or so, but that never happened. Nancy says it's because I am constitutionally incapable of writing a short post, and I think she's right. So I plan to keep on writing about every third day.
Writing this blog during the last year has become very important to me; a lot has come out of it. For one thing, I've read many things more closely than I would have without the blog, and I've taken more notes. Committing to exlibrismagnis means that I have to be prepared to talk about everything on the plan. It also means that I remember more of what I have read this last year: not only because I've been reading more carefully, but because writing helps the memory. I've talked with two people who asked my advice on drawing up their own reading plans, and I've reconciled with an old friend who saw in my blog some things that he liked. So, yeah, it's been a good year.
I've explained various times that I schedule harder material for the first six or eight months of the year, so I started blogging last year just about the time the my reading reached its fun-factor peak. What I hadn't realized at the time is how much harder it would be not just to read the denser material but to blog about it. Hegel? Kant? Spengler? How am I supposed to write about these guys and critique what they say when the experts admit they can't straighten it all out? (Wait a minute, I sense a theme in those names. Note to self: don't commit to so many pages of German philosophy in one year again.)
But now the day follows the night, the reward follows the work, the dessert follows the vegetables, the arsis follows the thesis, and Paul McCartney follows the Sun. I started Plutarch today and rejoiced at my return to familiar, beloved territory. I don't catch all the references by any means, but Plutarch tells interesting stories and draws valuable morals from the lives he records. (I'm still scratching my head over Spengler. What did he mean by saying the classical mind cared nothing for the past or for a man's character? How can he say that when Plutarch is in the world?) I can't wait to share more of my thoughts about Plutarch, Durant, Trollope, Chesterton, and Catton. I can't wait to spend another two weeks with Boswell wandering the streets of London and joining Dr. Johnson for meals. I can't wait to relive Lewis's search for and discovery of joy. And I can't wait to travel to Italy with Dickens -- just before I leave for a six-month stay in Italy myself.
My favorite posts so far:
Saluting Captain Cuttle
Dickens's Christmas Encounters
The Mingling of the Lights
David Copperfield's Memory
A Book List for Kids
I've had frequent visits from readers on three continents. You seem to have found a different set of posts more entertaining, if the list at the bottom of this page is any indication. But I'm just glad anyone has found anything worth reading here. Thanks for sticking with me.