The Amusement Park of Your Mind

BiblioBuffet has a page called Literary Amusements that is composed of two parts: Literaria du Jour and Reading Remarks. This page is intended to be a kind of drive-by place for readers to stop in for a quick literary snack between issues. We promise it won’t spoil your dinner, nor will you have to brush your teeth.

The left side, which is called Literaria du Jour, is where you will find literary factoids. These can be amusing words, some information about an author or a book, a bit of lilterary history, or some unusual truth or fact about related issues. The right side, Reading Remarks, offers quotes from famous, infamous or unknown people about reading and books (including closely related subjects like censorship, libraries, etc.).

It changes daily except Sundays so keeping this going on a six-day-a-week schedule takes some doing. Finding things to include involves a lot of research, both online and in books. I read interviews, articles, blog and discussion forum posts, trade pieces, essays. I will follow links nearly to the end of the earth. I read literary magazines and book reviews. In fact, I’ll take my quotes and facts from almost anywhere I can trust and/or verify.

While googling “literary quotes” about five months ago I came across an online edition of a nineteenth-century book that was full of them, many of them unseen before. I couldn’t copy from the PDF version of course, but there was an html version that because of its narrow side margins, required I tediously copy and paste it in relatively small chunks to avoid overloading and shutting down the Word document. Just that part took me more than a week.

Because html made the text lines short in the Word version, I was looking at 396 pages. There was also extra spacing where it didn’t make sense, and names were in the center of quotes. In short, it was baffling and frustrating, and it required time for me to figure things out. I spent eight weeks of night-after-night work closing up lines and googling names to match them to the quotes. Were it not for the fact that many of these quotes were wonderful and were apparently nowhere else on the web I would have given up. But I didn’t—and I am glad.

While I only have about two years’ worth of “Literaria,” I now have 1,530 or four years, two months, and ten days’ worth of quotes. And with all the new material constantly being generated online it just keeps increasing. My database is now a nice combination of quotes from Plato’s time to 2009.  And since I don’t often remember them, I am frequently as amused, as annoyed, or as intrigued by them as any other BiblioBuffet reader.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Amusement Park of Your Mind

  1. I cannot believe you did all that work–wow! And thanks for this post because somehow I had never noticed this page before. I wish I could subscribe to it by email so it would greet me every morning when I got to my computer!

    • I think you can by subscribing via the RSS feed. However, every day is a bit much (at least for this writer). I update the blog late Sunday night with links to and descriptions of the new issue, and on Wednesday night or Thursday morning with whatever strikes my fancy. I’m afraid I’d become boring if I wrote more often.

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