Tag: MarkTwain

Book days around the world

Literary Holidays From Around The World

Most readers are familiar with World Book Day, Library Week, and National Poetry Month, but most aren’t as familiar with lesser known holidays like Jolabokaflod, Burns Supper, or Bloomsday. These literary holidays from around the world keep readers looking forward to book-centric gatherings all year round.


1. Jólabókaflóð – December 24



Image via Read It Forward


With Iceland publishing more books per capita than any other country with 5 titles per every 1,000 Icelanders, it’s no wonder that one of their most anticipated holidays is commonly known as the “Christmas Book Flood.” Kristjan B. Jonasson, President of the Iceland Publishers Association, said, “The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted…we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading.” Books are mostly purchased from late September to early November, thus the name of the “book flood” when the books purchased are given as gifts. 


2. Burns Supper – January 25



Image via Pluckemin Inn


This annual celebration of the life and work of Scottish poet Robert Burns brings not only Scots, but also Scots-at-heart together to celebrate his literary contributions. Most commonly celebrated with dinner and drinks, the holiday not only celebrates Burns, but also Scottish culture as a whole. Dinner usually consists of Haggis, a dish made of oats, spices, and sheep offal alongside potatoes and all topped off with a whiskey sauce. 


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Image via The Telegraph


3. Bloomsday – June 16



Image via NPR


One of the most recognized literary holidays, Bloomsday celebrates the events portrayed in James Joyce’s famous Dublin-based novel, Ulysses, along with the author himself. The day is celebrated with an assortment of activities ranging from walking tours to public readings across Dublin and around the world. On the Sunday before the 100th anniversary of the fiction events, 10,000 people in Dublin were treated to a free full Irish breakfast consisting of sausages, rashers, toast, beans, and puddings. 



Image via Falvey Memorial Library Blog


4. National Tom Sawyer Days – July 4, 5, and 6



Image via Hearld Whig


The National Tom Sawyer Days take place in Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Missouri with activities offered for all ages and all interested. It is celebrated every year with with a parade float, flea market, and carnival for children. Celebrated simultaneously with the Fourth of July, celebratory fireworks are set off over the Mississippi River. 



Image via Visit Hannibal


5. Hemingway Days – July 16-21



Image via Opal Unpacked 


Hemingway Days are celebrated every year to revel in the legacy of Ernest Hemingway, his work, and his lifestyle. Celebrated with literary readings, theatrical premiers, short story competition, fishing tournament, 5K Run, the Running of the Bulls, Paddle board race, and rounding it all out with a birthday “party” to celebrate Hemingway’s birthday on the 21st. Hemingway Days are celebrated yearly in Key West, Florida, where Hemingway wrote some of his best-known works.. 



Image via Clarín


Featured image via Claddagh Design.


5 Books I Read in College That I Absolutely Loathed

I didn’t major in English to get paid the big bucks, I majored in it because of how much I love to read. I was already a voracious reader before this point, but while I was in college I was introduced to a new world of literature that I hadn’t known about prior. Some of those books remain some of my favorites to this day, but there are quite a few of them that I didn’t particularly like—ones that I found to be a chore to tread through. 


1. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith 




The Price of Salt (adapted to film as Carol) was probably my least favorite book to read out of all my years of college. It tells the story of a girl named Therese who is living an unfulfilling life with an unfulfilling boyfriend. She acquires a job at Macy’s as she struggles to work her way up in the theatre world. While at Macy’s, she meets an older woman named Carol, who she falls deeply in love with. The story never fully goes into detail about whether or not the two women develop a physical relationship, but it is clear that the two care very much for one another.


Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the pacing. I found the relationship to escalate far too fast. It ended up feeling unrealistic and I never really bought the romance as a result. Therese also becomes so deeply obsessed with Carol that it made me cringe at every page-turn. 


2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad




Okay, I take it back…I think this was my least favorite book I ever had to read in college, and I had to read it three separate times. Once was apparently not enough. I guess I’m just not a huge fan of imperialist/colonialist texts, and that’s exactly what Heart of Darkness is. This 1899 novel tells the story of a man named Charles Marlowe who travels deep into the African wilderness, and loses sight of himself amidst the backdrop of the African jungles. While I see the merit in a novel such as this one, I personally found it utterly boring and all I can say is that it filled me with “…horror! The horror!”


3. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare




This might be an unpopular opinion, but Romeo and Juliet is probably my least favorite Shakespeare play. We had read this one my sophomore year of high school, but it returned to me in college when I took a class on Shakespeare’s plays. I find the plot to be vaguely boring, and the plight of the two lovers is not one that particularly interests me. Theirs is puppy love, and they essentially die after knowing each other for a very short period of time. In my opinion, there are many other plays Shakespeare wrote that are far more fascinating and worth the time and effort.


4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott




I wish I could earnestly say that I enjoyed reading Little Women, but the truth of the matter is that I did not. Maybe it was a bad semester to have been assigned this reading because I know that when I was asked to read this text it was in the midst of a particularly work-intensive time period. The story of Marmee and her four daughters struggling to survive while Mr. March (husband and father) is off in the Civil War simply did not cut it for me. And as with all college classes, we were required to speed through the novel, so perhaps I simply wasn’t able to fully appreciate the story for that reason. 


5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain




In my defense, reading Huckleberry Finn when your professor is a Twain scholar is truly a daunting task to undertake. We spent an abnormally long amount of time dissecting this novel, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at the cover of one of Twain’s novels without recounting some random detail about the man’s life and works. Huckleberry Finn tells the story of young Huck Finn who is a wild and adventurous child. He does not appreciate society or the conformities that it requires of him, so he escapes with a runaway slave on a raft down the Mississippi River. One of the things I did fully appreciate regarding this 1884 novel was how magnificent Twain paints the famous river, because it truly is a sight to behold. But aside from that? I found Huck Finn to be a rather annoying and troublesome child. 


So there you have it, five novels I was forced to read that just did not do it for me. Maybe I’ll give them another try now that I can flip through them at my own pace. Except for Heart of Darkness. Three times was enough for three lifetimes!




Feature Image Via WFL Children’s Room Blog

Mark Twain

10 Famous Mark Twain Quotes That He Never Said

Mark Twain said a ton of fun things that have made a bunch of people smile. For example, he once said, “I have been an author for twenty years and an ass for fifty-five.” He also said, “Classic—a book which people praise and don’t read.” These are both very relatable even though I am neither an author nor fifty-five-years-old. The classics thing, anyway—I’ve never read The Old Man and the Sea, for example.


But for every witty comment Twain made, there are at least five he didn’t but still gets credit for. I am here to debunk these Twain witticisms and return them to their rightful speakers. Here are ten of the most frequently used quotes misattributed to Mark Twain.


1. “Politicians are like diapers: they should be changed often, and for the same reason.” – Probably from a Reader’s Digest fan named Willie.


2. “It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” – It’s not clear who originally said this, but it wasn’t Twain.


3. “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” – As above, its origin is unknown, but it probably wasn’t Twain.


4. “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Twain did actually say this, but he attributed it to British politician Benjamin Disraeli. But this is in itself probably a misattribution. It was probably first said by Leonard H. Courtney.


5. “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”H. S. Scrivener


6. “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”Blaise Pascal


7. “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”Markus Herz


8. “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” – This is a weird one because it’s actually just a fairly well-known Friedrich Nietzche quote.


9. “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”Edward Abbey


10. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” H. Jackson Brown’s mom


Mark Twain

Image Via Famous Biographies


Feature Image Via Smithsonian

Mark Twain House

Mark Twain’s Gothic Home Has Had Its Fair Share of Horrors

Want to hear a vaguely fun fact? Mark Twain (true name: Samuel Clemens) wrote his most famous books (Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, etc.) in an American High Gothic home in Hartford, Connecticut. I said vaguely fun. Don’t accuse me of over-promising. It’s a gorgeous house, and, by all accounts, Twain had a grand time there with his wife Olivia and his three daughters. He’d smoke cigars and play billiards with his bros, and write what’s now generally considered some of the best American literature. And it was home to Harriet Beecher Stowe. But the house hasn’t had the best luck since.


Twain dining room

Image Via The Mark Twain House and Museum


Image Via The Mark Twain House and Museum


The house is gorgeous, and the Clemens moved in as soon as it was completed in 1874. Clemens biographer Justin Kaplan called the house “part steamboat, part medieval fortress and part cuckoo clock.” Seems an accurate description from the photos.


But it has a somewhat dicey history. First off, Twain’s middle daughter, Susy, died in the house at the age of twenty-four of spinal meningitis. Mark, Olivia and their daughter Clara were on a lecture tour through Europe at the time, raising funds to pay off the family’s debt. After losing Susy, the Clemens couldn’t bear moving back in. They sold the house in 1903. It was restored and made into a house museum in 1974, after seventy-one years of use as an apartment building, public library branch, and a school.



Photo by Frank Grace Via The LA Times


But, over the past ten years, the house has faced its share of hardship. In 2008, the house was almost $12 million in debt, due partially to the construction of the visitor center. It was saved by various do-gooders, including the state of Connecticut, who gave the house $3.5 million. And the house’s lender, Webster Bank, expanded payments until 2021, and eliminated interest payments. The debt was reduced to $4.9 million. A bunch of best-selling writers like Jon Clinch and Stewart O’Nan held a fundraiser to save the house, and it scored some major publicity, so that helped things too.


The house even had a slight surplus for a while. In 2011, though, it was revealed that the comptroller of the house, Donna Gregor, embezzled over a $1 million from the Mark Twain House and Museum. Apparently, it was to help support her ailing family members, such as her mother, who was suffering from cancer. Some academics actually backed Gregor, saying that she suffered from pathological altruism. She was so eager to help her family that she ignored the consequences of her actions. Okay.



Photo by Frank Grace Via The LA Times


The judge was also unconvinced, sentencing Gregor to forty-two months in prison, as well as repaying the stolen funds ($1.08 million), repaying the museum’s insurer ($500k), and paying the IRS $323,480 because taxes. This is why you don’t steal from National Historic Landmarks, people.


Still, it seems the house is in good shape today. It really does look beautiful, and if you live near enough or are planning a trip to the U.S.’s northeast, then maybe make the Mark Twain House one of your destinations. And maybe plan on throwing them some extra change in the donations jar.



Photo by John Jroo Via The LA Times


Feature Image Via Hartford

Val Kilmer as Mark Twain

10 Mark Twain Quotes to Put a Smile on Your Face

You might know Mark Twain as a writer, but he’s also known as a person who said wise things. He said funny, insightful things that people, to this day, say to themselves for various purposes. Those purposes include: inspiration, laughter, mockery, disdain, hatred. I mean, good things too. Twain was funny.


Here are ten of his greatest quotes to make you laugh, think, deride, but mostly laugh.


1. To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.


2. Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.


3. I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.


4. Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink—under any circumstances.


5. You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God’s adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.


6. Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.


7. I have been an author for 20 years and an ass for 55.


8. Classic—a book which people praise and don’t read.


9. We do not deal much in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.


10. I have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.


Mark Twain

Image Via CMG Worldwide


Feature Image Via the San Antonio Current