Summer’s End and Other Thresholds

September is here, and summer is ending in the northern hemisphere. I’m not sad to see it go, being a lover of Autumn and all that comes with the falling leaves and breezes whispering winter psalms.

It’s the perfect time to gather with friends over mugs to share stories and laughter and quiet moments of happiness. So until our paths cross in person (and I really hope they do), we have this lovely internet for our storytelling and exchanges.

And speaking of lively chats, my interview is up on Between the Lines, a blog that interviews people devoted to literature, from teachers, lawyers, and doctors to academics, novelists, critics — and beyond. Kevin Neilson, a philosopher and unabashed lover of prose fiction, has done a great job rounding up booklovers from different walks of life to probe with fun and provocative questions.

I happen to know that some really fabulous folks are on board to share their love of books and literary insights in the coming weeks.

Check out the site ( and leave a comment so that Kevin knows that you were there and enjoyed the site.

I also invite you to respond to some of the interviews. Truly. If no one responds, it’s a little like standing up in front of a room after a lecture or reading, and being met with silence and blank stares. I taught college Composition and Creative Writing, so I’m no stranger to the blank stares.

Read some of the other interviews, write a note, and stay tuned to more musings about literary passions.

“The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone,” they sang. “Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.”

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year–the days when summer is changing into fall–the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.”

~ Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

Between the Lines

One of my favorite things to do upon entering someone’s home (especially for the first time) is to look at their books.

I like to see which ones are well-worn, which are autographed, which are displayed prominently while others are scattered around the house within easy reach. Sometimes I ask about a particular book, especially if I am surprised to find it there. Other times, most times, I say nothing.

If I am in the library of someone I like or admire (and if I know them well enough to know they will not mind), I like to touch their books, to hold them in my hands, to see if things are written in the margins or if there is an inscription.

And then, I love to talk with them about their collections. I want to know about their favorite childhood book and whether or not they still own it. I want to hear about the book they turned to for solace during adolescence, the books that bring them comfort in times of heartache or loneliness.

I want to know if they’ve experienced epiphanies or been challenged by an author or transformed by a character. I love to hear stories about what they read, why they read, where they read. A person’s literary palate often reveals more to me than the personal photographs they have displayed around their home.

When I was in Grad School at the School of the Art Institute, I worked as a barista in my favorite neighborhood coffee shop, The Bourgeois Pig in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. I met many interesting characters grinding coffee and making espresso concoctions in the days before Starbucks hit Chicago. One of the dearest was philosopher and fellow-bibliophile, Kevin Neilson.

After losing touch, Kevin and I reconnected via facebook a year ago, and he has now launched a website, Between the Lines (at dedicated to booklovers:

"Booklovers are strange people, and strange people love learning about other strange people and the books they read and how (and why) they read them. Inspired by The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, and Bookphilia by Colleen Shea, Between the Lines is a blog that interviews a wide variety of people who are devoted to literature, from teachers, lawyers, and doctors to academics, novelists, critics — and beyond."
Kevin has already posteda few interviews, and I know that more are set to be revealed soon (mine included).

Between the Lines is a fascinating glimpse into the literary passions of some really interesting people. I invite you to check it out, and if you are inclined to share or make suggestions, send him an email at jkneilson [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Because I am unable to peruse many of your personal libraries (at least not yet, maybe someday), I would love to read about your literary tastes and experiences. Check out the Between the Lines and drop Kevin a note, even if it’s just to say, "Hey, this site is awesome. More please!"