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.

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.

And you thought your business trip was bad…

Ah, Transylvania in the springtime. According to the dates of his journal entry, Jonathan Harker arrived, after a brief layover in a slightly unsettling little village filled with slightly unsettling little villagers, at a certain Castle Dracula on the evening of May 5th, sometime in the late 1890s.Castle Dracula

It did not go well.

Intrigued? You can learn more about his trip and how it ended at the library. There is also a ton of stuff dealing with Count Dracula’s spiritual descendants – even the sparkly ones.

Don’t know or care about what I’m talking about? Then at least your day can seem a little brighter and your steps a little lighter with the certain knowledge that it will go better than Jon’s… Unless you too are currently working your way ever closer to the creepy abode of an ancient, nearly indestructible creature of the night; in which case you are on your own. We can help with a lot of stuff but that’s a bit outside of the library’s wheelhouse.

 

Author Birthdays – Busy week

William Sydney Porter (aka O. Henry) (b. September 11, 1862, Greensboro, NC; d. June 5, 1910, New York, NY)

The littlest Earp brother?“Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadows of words when a man’s starving!” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: The Gifts of the Magi and his other short fiction

For more information on O. Henry, click here.

 

David Herbert Richards Lawrence (aka D.H. Lawrence) (b. September 11, 1885, Eastwood, UK; d. March 2, 1930, Vence, France)

Before the beard got out of control“Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.” You can find more quotes here.

What you should read: Lady Chatterly’s Lover and Sons and Lovers

For more information on D.H. Lawrence, click here.

 

Sherwood Anderson (b. September 13, 1876, Camden, OH; d. March 8, 1941, Colón, Panama)

Off center picture... does it bother you too?“If people did not want their stories told, it would be better for them to keep away from me.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Winesburg, Ohio

For more information on Sherwood Anderson, click here.

 

Roald Dahl (b. September 13, 1916, Cardiff, United Kingdom; d. November 23, 1990, Oxford, United Kingdom)

Why did I picture him with a beard?“I find that the only way to make my characters really interesting to children is to exaggerate all their good or bad qualities, and so if a person is nasty or bad or cruel, you make them very nasty, very bad, very cruel. If they are ugly, you make them extremely ugly. That, I think, is fun and makes an impact.” Read more quotes here.

What you should read: Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG

For more on Roald Dahl, his life and his work, click here.

 

John Knowles (b. September 16, 1926, Fairmont, WV; d. November 29, 2001, Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Megamind?“There are simply more young people than there ever were. You get this feeling of strength. Also, large numbers can be a drawback, making it difficult to lose one’s anonymity.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: A Separate Peace

For more information on John Knowles, click here.

 

Robert B. Parker (b. September 17, 1932, Springfield, MA; d. January 18, 2010, Cambridge, MA)

Crime author“College had little effect on me. I’d have been the same writer if I’d gone to MIT, except I’d have flunked out sooner.” You can find more quotes here.

What you should read: Night Passage, The Godwulf Manuscript, Family Honor and Appaloosa

For more information on Robert B. Parker and his books, click here.

 

Ken Kesey (b. September 17, 1935, La Junta, CO; d. November 10, 2001, Eugene, OR)

Doesn't normally look this normal“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

For more information on Ken Kesey, click here.

Author Birthdays – September, round 2

Richard Wright (b. September 4, 1908, Roxie, MS; d. November 28, 1960, Paris, France)

He doesn't look like a happy man. Fair enough.“Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Uncle Tom’s Children and Native Son

For more information on Richard Wright, click here.

 

Robert M. Pirsig (b. September 6, 1928, Minneapolis, MN)

As advertised, zen and motorcycles“It is not good to talk about Zen, because Zen is nothingness… If you talk about it, you are always lying, and if you don’t talk about it, no one knows it is there.” You can find more quotes here.

What you should read: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

For more information on Robert Pirsig, his works and his philosophy, click here.

 

Leo Tolstoy (b. September 9, 1828, Yasnaya Polyana, Russia; d. November 20, 1910, Lev Tolstoy, Russia)

At once, exactly and nothing like what I expected“To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can’t eat it.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: War and Peace and Anna Karenina

For more information on Tolstoy, click here.

 

 

James Hilton (b. September 9, 1900, Leigh, UK; d. December 20, 1954, Long Beach, CA)

Probably not a candid shot of him looking dapper and reading his own book, but who knows“Surely there comes a time when counting the cost and paying the price aren’t things to think about any more. All that matters is value – the ultimate value of what one does.” Read more quotes here.

What you should read: Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips

For more on Mr. Hilton, click here.

 

Author Birthdays – Goodbye August, Hello September

John Locke (b. August 29, 1632, Wrington, UK; d. October 28, 1704, High Laver, UK)

Wow...“The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Two Treatises on Government, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Some Thoughts Concerning Education

For more information on John Locke, click here.

 

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (b. August 30, 1797, London, UK; d. February 1, 1851, London, UK)

Is it the forehead or the droopy shoulders that makes me feel like she is an 92 year old in this portrait?“Nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.” You can find more quotes here.

What you should read: Frankenstein

For more information on Mary Shelley, click here.

 

 

Edgar Rice Burroughs (b. September 1, 1875, Chicago, IL; d. March 19, 1950, Encino, Los Angeles, CA)

Looks like he would be friends with Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade“The more one listens to ordinary conversations the more apparent it becomes that the reasoning faculties of the brain take little part in the direction of the vocal organs.” Read more quotes here.

What you should read: Tarzan of the Apes (first of the Tarzan series) and/or A Princess of Mars (first in the Barsoom series)

For more on Mr. Burroughs, click here.

Books People Only Pretend to Have Read

For the last month or so there has been a display up in the fiction section of the Moline Public Library entitled “Top Books People Only Pretend to Have Read.” It’s gone surprisingly well – people have been taking books off of it and everything! So, I decided to expand to the World Wide Web.

It began when staff stumbled upon a few articles online on the topic (sites included BuzzFeed, the Federalist, the Huffington Post, The Telegraph (UK) and io9, to name a few). So we compiled a list and pulled them for the display. Most of them are things you would probably expect – long-winded classics with dense language, most of the angsty Russians, just about everything by Dickens, things that “they” tried to make you read in high school, stuff like that. There were a few surprises though, with Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and the Fifty Shades series all on the list as well. In fact, here is a link to a quick, non-comprehensive list compiled from some of the sites listed above: Lies.

You may be asking, “Who lies about reading a book?” Well, according to a British study cited by thewire.com, over 60% of people questioned admit to lying about reading a book.

“But why?” you ask. First, I think that you are trying too hard to not look like you are one of the people who lie about what they read. All the questions make you seem suspicious, that’s all I’m saying. Second, according to the study, it is mostly just to impress people with how intelligent they are. I think that, with our friends, Harry Potter, Frodo, and Mr. Grey, on the list, we can also safely add being part of the crowd – not wanting to feel like to only person who hasn’t read something – to the list.

Books

You know who you are. You know what you need to do to make it right.

If you hurry we might still be open!

If not, don’t panic. We will re-open at 9am (unless it’s Sunday).