14 Favorite Book Sidekicks to Celebrate on Dr. Watson’s Birthday

Goodreads Blog: Posted by Hayley Igarashi on July 07, 2017

BudsToday is the birthday of one of literature’s most beloved and long-suffering sidekicks, Dr. John Watson. A war veteran as well as an accomplished writer and detective, Watson gives Sherlock Holmes much-needed backup and friendship, all while enduring less-than-complimentary observations about his character. “You have a grand gift for silence, Watson,” Sherlock says at one point. “It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.”

To celebrate the good doctor’s birthday, [goodreads.com] asked you on Facebook and Twitter to share your favorite book sidekicks. Check out some of the most popular answers below and add your own in the comments!

Sherlock1. Dr. John Watson
Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books and stories

Sherlock’s friend, roommate, biographer, crime-solving partner and on-hand physician

 

Harry Potter2. Ron and Hermione
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books

Harry’s fellow Gryffindors, friends, partners in managing mischief, frequent rescuers (especially Hermione) and family

Click here for the rest of the list…

Author Birthdays – The Last Birthdays Ever

No. Not all of them. Don’t worry, your candles and cake are safe. We’re just talking about “Author Birthdays,” the blog segment.

Why? We’ve come full circle, literally. The Earth has completed an entire orbit around the sun since we started with “Author Birthdays” (that means a year has gone by) and after this week there won’t be any more weeks that we haven’t already covered together.

I know. I know. There are many authors that we missed the first time around and newly famous/infamous authors are popping up all the time, but lets give the numbers time to build back up a bit before we start in again. We’ll do other things that are just as cool. Maybe (dare I say it) cooler.

In the meantime, The Last Author Birthdays (Possibly) Ever!

George Orwell (b. June 25, 1903, Motihari, India; d. January 21, 1950, London, UK)

Orwell“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: 1984

For more information on George Orwell, click here.

 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (b. June 28, 1712, Geneva, Switzerland; d. July 2, 1778, Ermenonville, France)

Rousseau“Insults are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: The Confessions

For more information on Jean-Jacques Rousseau, click here.

 

Fantastic Voyages – “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” (Part 3 of 3)

So far we’ve traveled the blue expanse of the sea and the great nothingness of space. What else could there be?

How about time travel?

Yankee

June 19 was not turning out to be a good day for Hank Morgan. He was an intelligent, successful engineer with thousands of people working for him, but, it turns out, not all of them were happy with him. In fact, one went so far as to bash him in the head with a crowbar, and, as if that weren’t enough, Hank woke up in middle-ages England of all places. This was beyond a little perplexing since Hank had been in 19th century Connecticut when he was last conscious.

Hank, who would soon become known as “The Boss,” didn’t have much time to consider this odd change in scenery though, as he was accosted by a lance-wielding knight on horseback soon after his arrival. Things only got more complicated from there.

Without giving too much away; Hank, using his knowledge of engineering and science, quickly rose to a position of power posing as a great magician and spent the next three or four years trying to turn medieval England into an industrialized (and Americanized) utopia. Also, King Arthur and Merlin were involved. All did not go well.

Still, A for effort, Hank.

Want to learn more? Check out A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain.

Want your shot at building your own utopia? That’s a bit more difficult (we would like to take this opportunity to advise against the “angry employee with crowbar” path to changing history) but it is possible and there is no time like the present. It’s summer, the sun is shining, people are out and about and there are things to do everywhere, so let’s get to it. First things first, find a problem, any problem – small, big, medium-sized, whatever – and fix it, or at least make it better. Then repeat. It’s going to take a while, but then Rome (or an industrialized Camelot with a modern standard of living) wasn’t built in a day.

Author Birthdays – Father’s Day Edition

People have gotta come from somewhere and authors are no exception – special shout-out to the fathers of this week’s authors! And all the other fathers too. Hi, dad!

Salman Rushdie (b. June 19, 1947, Mumbai, India)

Rushdie“A purpose of our lives is to broaden what we can understand and say and therefore be.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: The Satanic Verses 

For more information on Salman Rushdie, click here.

 

Joseph Kesselring (b. July 21, 1902, New York, NY; d. November 5, 1967, Kingston, NY)

Kesselring“You see, insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Arsenic and Old Lace

For more information on Joseph Kesselring, click here.

 

Jean-Paul Sartre (b. June 21, 1905, Paris, France; d. April 15, 1980, Paris, France)

Sartre“If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Nausea

For more information on Jean-Paul Sartre, click here.

 

Octavia Butler (b. June 22, 1947, Pasadena, CA; d. February 24, 2006, Lake Forest Park, WA)

Butler“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Kindred

For more information on Octavia Butler, click here.

 

Michael Shaara (b. June 23, 1928, Jersey City, NJ; d. May 5, 1988, Tallahassee, FL)

Shaara“A man who has been shot at is a new realist, and what do you say to a realist when the war is a war of ideals?” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: The Killer Angels

For more information on Michael Shaara, click here.

 

Richard Bach (b. June 23, 1936, Oak Park, IL)

Bach“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Jonathan Livingston Seagull

For more information on Richard Bach, click here.

 

Fantastic Voyages – It’s All a Matter of Perspective (Part 1 of 3)

Summer is a time of wonder, of adventure, of going to see what there is to see. So what are we all sitting around for? Here are some literary examples of fantastic summer travels to help inspire you to get out there and experience June.

Note: Pay no attention to the fact that all of the examples are of adventures that were unintended/completely involuntary. You should still go outside. Just, maybe start small…

I know! You could go to the library! Safe, close by and air-conditioned but still full of things to see and to learn. It’s perfect!

In the meantime, here is your first fantastic voyage.

By the summer of 1703, Lemuel Gulliver already knew that the world was a much larger (or smaller, as the case may be) and stranger place than most people ever imagined. It had been about a year since he had finally returned home after his first lengthy sea journey; a journey that had resulted in him being shipwrecked and stranded in the nation of Lilliput, being a nation populated entirely by people who were less than 6 inches tall. His experiences there (including his eventual fall from imperial favor and subsequent arrest and escape) are probably the best known and most retold of his adventures but they were far from his only. In fact, another one was to begin soon for, having been at home for 12 whole months, he was starting to get antsy.

Gulliver

Gulliver Exhibited to the Brobdingnag Farmer (painting by Richard Redgrave)

On June 17, 1703, Mr. Gulliver and his most recent crewmates put ashore on an uncharted coastline to explore and forage. This ended pretty abruptly when 70 foot tall giants chased the entire shore party back to their row boats, all of them except Gulliver that is. After spending time as a giant among the Lilliputians poor Gulliver now found the situation completely reversed. The intrepid ship’s surgeon remained stranded on the island of giants (he would find out soon enough that the place was called Brobdingnag) until he “escaped” when a giant eagle snatched him (and the room/cage he was in – he had become the human equivalent of a purse dog for the Brobdingnagian queen) and flew him out to sea.

He did not go straight home. There were many more highly improbable islands and people to meet. He, in fact, did not make it home once and for all for another 12 years. Take that Odysseus.

Intrigued? You can check out the rest of the story, and the bits I glossed over, in Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. You know where you can pick it up.

So, even if it doesn’t exactly make you want to take up sailing anytime soon, I hope that Gulliver inspires you to at least make your way to the library. Maybe take the scenic route on the way here – you never know what you might find.

A Poet Who Knew It

Brooks2Gwendolyn Brooks @ 100

Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most highly regarded, highly influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry. She was a much-honored poet, even in her lifetime, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period. Her body of work gave her, according to critic George E. Kent, “a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young black militant writers of the 1960s.” From poetryfoundation.org.

And now its time to celebrate the life of this remarkable poet, 100 years on.

100 libraries, museums, and cultural centers all over the state have agreed to celebrate the centennial.

A little over a week after the 100th anniversary of her birth, “Matter in the Margins: Gwendolyn Brooks at 100,” an exhibition at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, opens tomorrow, June 16, showcasing selections from Gwendolyn Brooks’s personal archives. Brooks was an inveterate note-taker and self-chronicler, and her archives are filled with Post-Its, hotel stationery, and other scraps of paper on which she recorded her daily life and current events. She sketched out future plans and recorded meaningful memories in the fly-leaves of notebooks and on the backs of photographs, and she interrogated others’ ideas and narratives in the margins of letters she received and books she read. Here, the poet worked out the process of becoming, raising important questions about completion, authority, self-fashioning, and memory.

For more information on the Gwendolyn Brooks and the centennial celebration you can visit the official “Celebrating Gwendolyn Brooks @ 100” site here.