Category Archives: H L Mencken

Happy World Book Day! (What’s on your Night Stand?)

Super quick post to wish you all a Happy World Book Day!

So here’s my quick reader’s quiz for you…

  • What YOU are reading today (What’s on your night stand)?
  • Who is  your favorite author?
  • What is your favorite book of all time?
  • What’s your favorite series?
  • What was / is your favorite book as a child?
  • What genre of literature do you gravitate you?
  • Bound / paper or e-book? And why?
  • Where is your favorite place to read?
  • What’s the one thing that keeps you from reading?
  • AND… what / who do you wish some one would write a book about?

Here, in no particular order, are some of the books we’ve looked at over the last 9 months on ritaLOVEStoWRITE…

tolkien books

Tolkien’s perfect trilogy.

2006 edition of Brave New World published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics

2006 edition of Brave New World published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics

James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fourth edition of The American Language is still available on Amazon.com.

The fourth edition of The American Language is still available on Amazon.com.

The Shel Silverstein collection "borrowed" from the shelves of an obliging independent brick and mortar bookstore, Greetings and Readings in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

The Shel Silverstein collection “borrowed” from the shelves of an obliging independent brick and mortar bookstore, Greetings and Readings in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Cover of Wives and Daughters. [ Image courtesy:  Amazon.com]

Cover of Wives and Daughters. [ Image courtesy: Amazon.com]

Anne Tyler 3 books

The Anne Tyler trifecta

Milne House at Pooh Corner1000

Classic Winnie the Pooh

Anansi Boys

I’m reading Gaiman’s Neverwhere now, but I blogged about Anansi Boys a little while ago.

Tweedeedle

Tweedeedle by Johnny Gruelle (of Raggedy Anne fame)

Dune cover art [Image courtesy: Book Wit]

Dune cover art [Image courtesy: Book Wit]

Complete set of the seven books of the Harry P...

Complete set of the seven books of the Harry Potter series. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

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Clearly I’ve got a thing for the classics and children literature. [Interesting I have no problem airing my eclectic musical taste for all the blogosphere to see, but when it comes to books I hide my paperbacks in the closest… what’s up with that? The fact is I don’t read ENOUGH, or at least — I don’t read as much as I’d like. Maybe I should take a pledge on this World Book Day to READ MORE! But would that mean I’d have to blog less? Hmmmm.]

 

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Thought of the Day 9.12.12 H.L.Mencken

“Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.”

— H. L. Mencken

The Sage of Baltimore. [Image courtesy: The American Mercury]

Henry Louis Mencken was born on this day  in Baltimore, Maryland in 1880. Today is the 132nd anniversary of his birth.

Mencken lived in the same house in the Union Square neighborhood of the city for all but 5 years of his life. At 9 he read Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and knew he wanted to become a writer. His family had other ideas.

His grandfather had prospered in the tobacco business and his father, August, continued the family tradition. Mencken studied at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (1892-96) and then worked at his father’s cigar factory. [Books and Writers]

[Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons]

He worked for 3 years at the family owned business and would have stayed indefinitely, but upon his father’s death in 1899  Mencken was “free to choose his own trade in the world.”

Within a week, Mencken “invaded” the city room of the old Baltimore Morning Herald to face down the city editor and ask for a job…There were no jobs that day, but Mencken, persistent, returned daily for two weeks. “Finally I was sent out on a small assignment — it was a stable robbery at Govans — and a few days later I was on the staff,” [H.L. Mencken, Pioneer Journalist, By Jacques Kelly The Baltimore Sun]

His skill as a writer and his reputation for being able to turn a phrase grew. So 6 years later when the Herald closed its doors Mencken applied for a position at the larger Baltimore Sun.  He started at “The Sun as its Sunday editor, became an editorial writer, and in 1911 started writing his own column, the Free Lance Mencken.”  He worked at The Sun until 1948, bring his unflinching wit and critical eye to everything he saw.

“I believe that a young newspaper reporter in a big city… led a live that has never been matched… for romance and interest.” [Mencken from his only known audio interview. Courtesy of: The American Mercury.com]/

Mencken at work. [Image Courtesy: Enoch Pratt free Library Digital Collections.]

He was a war correspondent in Germany and Russia from 1916 to 1918. During WWI Mencken was pro-German (a very unpopular thing to be in patriotic Baltimore of 1917).

In 1919 he published The American Language, a guide to American expressions and idioms.

From 1914 to 1923 Mencken co-edited with drama critic George Jean Nathan (1882-1958) the Smart Set, which mocked everything from politics to art, universities to the Bible…[Books and Writers]

He preferred realism to modernism and he helped the careers of Sinclair Lewis, Dorothy Parker and Eugene O’Neill.

Cover of the American Mercury [Image Courtesy: Wikipedia]

He started The American Mercury monthly magazine, working on the magazine from 1924 t0 1933.

A stroke in 1948 left him nearly unable to read or write. Speaking took a lot of effort, and he grew easily frustrated. He spent his remaining days organizing his papers and letters (which can now be found in H.L. Mencken Room and Collection at the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library on Cathedral Street in Baltimore.

[Image courtesy: MPT]

Here are a few more quips from the Sage of Baltimore:

  • “A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”
  • “Nature abhors a moron”
  • “Do not overestimate the decency of the human race”
  • “A man loses his sense of direction after four drinks; a woman loses hers after four kisses”
  • “Love is like war; easy to begin but very hard to stop”
  • “It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.”
  • “Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”
  • “You come into the world with nothing, and the purpose of your life is to make something out of nothing”
  • “Most people are unable to write because they are unable to think, and they are unable to think because they congenitally lack the equipment to do so, just as they congenitally lack the equipment to fly over the moon.”
  • “I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.”

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