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In Memory of Dewey

November 23, 2010


I didn’t plan to write this post. This Thursday will mark two years since Dewey passed; it was sudden and unexpected (she had been participating in NaNoWriMo and just announced a schedule of giveaways to celebrate the winter holidays). I still miss her terribly, which is why I shied away from writing this. In one way, I said all that I had to say last year, and I just couldn’t face doing another post about the absence I always feel in the blogosphere. In another way, it just felt too private to post about. But then I realised that all of the bloggers who joined our community in 2009 and 2010 never had the chance to know Dewey, and they might not even realise who the In Loving Memory button on my sidebar is for.

So here I am. Dewey began blogging in 2007, and from the beginning her site, The Hidden Side of the Leaf (named for the Toni Morrison quote: “Birth, life, and death — each took place on the hidden side of a leaf.”) looked professional. Her husband was in computers, and self-hosted her blog, and the design was so fancy, especially for back then when book blogging was in its infancy! :) I remember coming across her for the first time, and being a little nervous to leave a comment…she seemed at such a different level than my blog. But I quickly discovered my nervousness was for nothing; Dewey began visiting me back, and we developed a bloggy friendship as these things go. That’s the thing: she was a bit of a book blogging rock star, but she was also so nice! She had seemingly boundless energy, and she devoted a lot of that to helping our community grow. She started the original read-a-thon, and I’ll always remember the utter magic of that first Saturday. She also began the Bookworms Carnival, in which a different host each time picked a theme, asked other bloggers to contribute a relevant post, and did a round-up of them all. And then there was Weekly Geeks, which she started in 2008 as a fun way for bloggers to get to know each better, with a new activity every Saturday. She must’ve visited every participant too, since she did round-ups of the previous week! She obviously loved blogging, and that love was infectious.

But as much as she loved blogging, she loved books even more. I was going through her blog in my feed reader the other night, and a post she published on November 12th, two weeks before she passed, really jumped out at me. It’s short, so I’ll share it here. It’s entitled “possibly exaggerated, but heartfelt”:

    The other day, I came across this short conversation from January of this year. Obviously, I censored people’s names.

    Friend 1: Say, Friend 2, I think we may have discussed this before but are you a strictly nonfiction type of person, or is that just what you’re reading right now?

    Friend 2: I basically don’t have time to read fiction.

    Dewey: I would give up sleep, food, and conversation with other humans before fiction. I would almost definitely choose being homeless before choosing to be fictionless. I’m thinking about water. That would give me only three remaining days for fiction, but could be worth it.

Oh Dewey. She introduced me to so many great books, fiction and nonfiction. She loved gushing about her favourite authors, and she was also a huge proponent of graphic novels, ‘young adult’ books, and feminism. Whenever Dewey would post about a book, even a book I had no interest in beforehand, I’d suddenly find myself adding it to my wishlist; she was convincing. ;) And I have a couple books on my shelves that came from her. You see, if the book she was reviewing was one that she owned, she gave it away to one of the commenters. Not in some kind of grand ‘giveaway’ style with points and re-tellings and publicity, but just as a matter of course. That’s the type of woman she was.

If you never got to ‘meet’ Dewey, or if you wonder why some bloggers have the memorial button, I hope that this gives you a bit of an idea about how wonderful she was. Dewey’s influence came from her energy, her brilliant ideas, her friendliness, her wonderful way of writing about books, her genuine goodness. Unfortunately, as I mentioned her site was self-hosted and has been taken down. However, if you add her feed address (http://deweymonster.com/?feed=rss2) to your reader, you should be able to read her archives. Alternatively, you could use the Internet Archive to see what they’ve saved of her blog (http://deweymonster.com).

I’ve kept this impersonal, simply because I used all of the words I had to describe my grief last year. Nothing has changed since then. She is still a role model to me, and I often wish I could send her an e-mail about a great book I think she’d love or something going on in my life to get her advice or support or humour. I miss her tremendously, both personally and in the blogosphere. But even with that hurt, I am still so glad that I had the chance to know her and call her my friend. Here’s to you, Dewey, and your thriving legacy.

I debated long and hard as to whether to turn the comments off on this post. Last year, I couldn’t bring myself to reply to any comments, because I kept bursting into tears. But Dewey was all about community, and I want her memory to stay alive amongst us. So I’ve left the comments open: feel free to share your own Dewey stories, add links to posts you’ve written about her, etc. so that bloggers who didn’t know her can learn more. I plan on linking my button to this post so I see it as a resource for my future readers as well. That being said, I still don’t know if I’ll be able to reply to comments publicly. And please don’t feel obligated to leave a comment. If you’d like to talk with me about her, you can e-mail me: astripedarmchairATgmailDOTcom.

Also, I am taking a few days off from blogging; my hands have begun hurting me, and I’m hoping that a bit of rest will get them back to normal. So as much as I’ll miss you guys, I’m forbidding myself from typing until Sunday, with the exception of e-mails.

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36 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2010 7:38 am

    I really do feel that I missed out on getting to know a wonderful moment. I wonder if her family realise how much she is missed on the book blogging world and what an impact she had on it. She sounds like she was a wonderful person and God now has an extra angel as his side.

  2. November 23, 2010 7:39 am

    Aarrgh I meant person, not moment!

  3. November 23, 2010 8:12 am

    I’m one of those new bloggers who didn’t know Dewey at all, and it certainly sounds like I missed out. She did a lot, and I thank you for sharing about her with us – especially us “newbies” who could really learn a lesson or two from someone as incredible as Dewey!

    Also, I’m sorry your hands are hurting you. I do hope the rest helps. Thinking of you!

  4. November 23, 2010 8:39 am

    I never “met” Dewey, but have joined the Readathon on both occasions since I started blogging, I think it’s a wonderful tribute to keep it going and the vast amount of times she is spoken of speaks volumes. A lot of people may think blogging is silly, but it’s meant that she is remembered by so many more people. And newer bloggers can come to know of her too.

    I’ve often wanted to be able to read her posts, so thanks for sharing the link to the feed.

  5. November 23, 2010 8:52 am

    Wonderful post, Eva. I didn’t realize the anniversary of her death was this Thursday, so thank you for reminding me, I will say a little prayer for her on that day.

    I wasn’t nearly as close with her as you were, I think I was still on the intimidated side up until her passing, but I did talk with her a few times and was beyond inspired by her. She was an amazing person, and I know she would be extremely proud of you for being brave enough to post your thoughts and emotions in such a public way.

    I hope you feel better soon – rest those hands and come back to us Sunday. :) Also, enjoy the holiday!

  6. November 23, 2010 8:59 am

    I’m so glad you posted this. I have only been blogging since August, and I have heard of Dewey but didn’t know anything about her except the quote on the memorial button. So sorry to hear of your grief. I wish that I had had the chance to get to “know” her through the blogosphere.

  7. November 23, 2010 9:05 am

    I started my blog in the middle of 2008 and was just getting to know Dewey when she passed away. She definitely left a hole in the community. Your post is lovely.

  8. November 23, 2010 9:09 am

    Oh Eva. Now you have gone and made me cry at work. This was beautiful. I always regret that I didn’t not “meet” Dewey earlier. We had just begun to correspond, but even in that brief time she made a lasting impression. She will always be missed.

    Take care of yourself and get your rest.

  9. November 23, 2010 9:10 am

    Every so often I’ll be rooting through old posts looking for something and come across a comment of Dewey’s. I remember always being startled and delighted whenever she commented because she was The Dewey, and I was always so impressed by her. I’m glad some of her legacies like the Readathon are still going, because it makes me feel like she’s still lurking around somewhere, plotting all kinds of bookish fun.

    That quote from her makes me cry-laugh. ‘I’m thinking about water…’

  10. Debi permalink
    November 23, 2010 9:11 am

    *hugs tightly*
    As horrendously selfish as it sounds, I’m not even sure I care about the book blogging stuff anymore. I just miss my friend. I miss her so very much.

  11. November 23, 2010 9:18 am

    I just wanted to second everything you’ve said. She was amazing and is still very missed.

  12. November 23, 2010 10:20 am

    Never met her but I will pray for her and keep her in my thoughts, she sounds like a wonderful person.

  13. November 23, 2010 10:24 am

    I’ve been thinking about Dewey too since it’s the anniversary of her death is coming up. I’m thinking about reading Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck on Thanksgiving since it was her favorite book ever. She is and always will be a great role model for bloggers. Her infectious energy, her friendliness, her love of reading still amazes me. I have a few books that Dewey has given me too. She pushed me to read outside my comfort zone and I’m so thankful for that. Dewey was the best.

  14. November 23, 2010 11:07 am

    Dewey is the reason why I read The Uncommon Reader. I will never forget the post about her waiting in the bookstore and eventually buying the book because she’d read so much of it in the story. She is missed.

  15. November 23, 2010 11:55 am

    WOW, I can’t believe it’s been two years. I was also a participant in Weekly Geeks and even worked with Dewey on the buttons she wanted for the challenge. It was always a great pleasure to chat with her on her blog and via e-mail.

  16. November 23, 2010 2:44 pm

    I can’t imagine how painful this week is for you and others who loved her, but I’m so glad you shared this post. This is the first I’ve heard of Dewey. I always wondered about the button, but I had no idea what a wonderful fellow blogger I missed meeting. It seems like she was a joy to other bloggers. Thank you for sharing the archived feed address. I’ve already read many of her posts and her blog truly is a treaure.

  17. November 23, 2010 3:23 pm

    This was lovely Eva. I know Dewey must be smiling as she reads this. You are right, she was a rockstar of the book blog world.

    Take care of yourself and see you when you get back to blogging after your little break!

  18. November 23, 2010 6:15 pm

    I didn’t know dewey ,but such a fitting tribute marks a special person and role model ,stu

  19. November 23, 2010 8:43 pm

    I didn’t know Dewey, but she certainly left her mark on this community. Thank you for the moving tribute.

  20. November 23, 2010 8:44 pm

    I am glad you wrote this post. I haven’t been blogging long enough to have known Dewey, but I have always wondered who she is. I knew she must have been something special, because so many still talk about her. I know this must have been hard to write, but I’m glad you did. Now I feel like I know Dewey a little, even if she never knew me :) While it’s such a sad time for you, I hope you manage to enjoy some holiday festivities this week (and I hope your hands feel better!)

  21. November 23, 2010 11:43 pm

    What a beautiful post. For those of us who were late to the game, its nice to get background on the woman who inspired so much. From everything you said about her, I know I would have loved her. And I am sure she is happy to know she had such a large and lasting impact on this community.

    And feel better.

  22. November 24, 2010 9:06 am

    I’ve heard Dewey mentioned, but I began blogging after she’d passed and so never knew her or really understood who she was. I want to thank you for sharing a little about her and what she meant to the blogging community — I think that, by doing so, you’ve brought her to life a little bit for people who never knew her in real life, which is a wonderful thing. Thank you, too, for sharing her feed — I’ve added it to my reader and am very much looking forward to meeting Dewey through it. I appreciate your taking the time to share this tribute with all of us.

  23. November 24, 2010 11:07 am

    Dewey and I wrote to each other a lot outside the blog world. Well, Eva, you will understand, it was the sisterhood of the chronically fatigued, and it helped a lot to have the solidarity of others in the same boat. And Dewey was amazing – so creative, so dedicated, such an all round wonderful person. It was the most terrible shock when she died and I think of her often. Still.

  24. November 24, 2010 12:00 pm

    Thanks for reminding us all what an impact Dewey had on our book blogging world. I started blogging in July 2008 so was just realizing how awesome she was when she passed. I’m glad her legacy moves on through the Read-a-thon, to name just one thing.

  25. November 24, 2010 12:19 pm

    Such a beautiful and heartfelt tribute. Dewey won’t be forgotten in the book blogging world because you and others will keep her spirit alive.

    Hugs.

  26. November 24, 2010 12:45 pm

    Thanks for this post, Eva…*hugs*….I so miss her :(

  27. November 24, 2010 7:11 pm

    Beautiful Eva.

  28. Jillian permalink
    November 24, 2010 9:11 pm

    Thank you for posting this, Eva. I never knew Dewey, and I did wonder about the In Loving Memory button.

    I’m very sorry you aren’t feeling well. My best to you and yours — and Happy Thanksgiving.

  29. November 25, 2010 4:48 am

    My thoughts go out to her family and all the book bloggers who still miss her so.

    My way of grieving is peculiar. About a month before Dewey left us, she sent me her copy of Free Food for Millionaires. I can’t bear to read it because it’s the last book I’ll ever receive from Dewey. Irrational, yes, but there you are, and there it sits on my TBR.

  30. November 25, 2010 5:37 am

    I was just getting to know Dewey her last fall. She welcomed newbies in with open arms. That’s what I remember most.

  31. November 25, 2010 4:20 pm

    Beautiful post <3

  32. November 25, 2010 11:05 pm

    Thank you for giving us, me, those who didn’t know Dewey a chance to see why she was so special. I love the quote about reading fiction.

    PB

  33. November 26, 2010 9:24 am

    Thanks, Eva, for the feed link. I spent much of Tuesday (the day you posted this) re-reading parts of Dewey’s blog. I’m still reading books recommended by Dewey, including The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, which I’ll pick up from the library later today.

    It’s hard to believe Dewey blogged for only a year and a half, yet she made such a difference to all of us — and probably many we’ll never know about. Her death hit me hard, and I was not able to write about it for months. That was partly because I was sicker than I knew (congestive heart failure) and had quadruple bypass surgery a few weeks after she died. I have posted about her since then, including yesterday, on the anniversary of the day she died:

    http://bonniesbooks.blogspot.com/2010/11/book-report-by-four-non-bloggers.html

    Tomorrow morning, my blog will mention her again, when my cat writes about Dewey’s cat, who just happened to be a reader.

  34. November 26, 2010 2:55 pm

    I just started blogging right before Dewey’s death and didn’t have the opportunity to get to know her. This is a beautiful tribute to her memory and thanks for reminding fellow bloggers about her integrity and grace in the blogging community.

  35. November 27, 2010 4:39 pm

    Thank you for writing this post about Dewey, Eva. She was one of a kind, a true lover of books and believer in community, and I think her spirit still lives on in the book blog world because people remember her and cherish her. I have often thought of her husband and son, who lost a wonderful woman. How much we still all learn from Dewey, even after her passing, because we carry on what she loved. This is a lovely tribute to her, Eva, and I’m glad you’ve written about her because it’s given the community a space to remember her, too. You know she’d tell you to take care of yourself, because you are precious too.

  36. November 30, 2010 2:44 am

    Beautiful post, Eva! I read about Dewey when I participated in my first readathon last year and from your post, she looks like a lovely, wonderful person. I feel sad that I couldn’t get to know her when she was around, but happy that she had friends like you who write about her and help post-2008 bloggers like me to appreciate a blogging-superstar like her.

    Thanks for writing this post and sharing your experiences with Dewey.

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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