It’s a testament to Dewey’s impact and legacy that so many of you, the hundreds of readers from all over the world who are getting ready to read for 24 hours this coming Saturday and Sunday, never got the chance to meet her. Dewey was better at bringing people together than anyone I’ve come across before or since — which is why we’re all here today, nearly six years after her passing.

Let me start with some introductions: my name is Ana, I’ve been blogging at things mean a lot for a little over seven years, and I had the enormous pleasure of being Dewey’s friend. I co-hosted the Read-a-thon with her in its early days, and I was also one of the bloggers involved in making sure it kept going after we lost her — which gave me a deep appreciation of just how much work Dewey (and now Andi and Heather) put into making sure everything runs smoothly and everyone has fun on the day.

And now comes the hard bit, in which I attempt to introduce Dewey to those of you who didn’t get to meet her: she blogged at the hidden side of a leaf (and also at Snippets, where you can find some of her entries from the October 2008 read-a-thon), she started the read-a-thon in 2007, and she turned it into a huge success before her passing in November 2008. Her blog is no longer online, but between Snippets and the Wayback Machine link I provided above, you can get a feel for the kind person she was: a passionate reader, an incredibly smart and funny writer, and someone who truly wanted to bring people together so they could have the nerdiest, most fun virtual slumber party imaginable. Dewey was one of the most inclusive people I’ve ever known. She was kind in a no-nonsense sort of way, full of empathy, and genuinely interested in creating the kind of online community where you’re reminded of other people’s humanity at every turn. I feel lucky that I started blogging at around the same time as she did, because she did so much that made me feel part of the bookish community. That’s a huge part of why I’m still here all these years later. She knew that exchanging exhaustion- and enthusiasm-fuelled caps locks read-a-thon comments at two in the morning was a great way to bond and make friends. She knew the value of reaching out to others, and she helped me become so much braver when it comes to putting myself out there. Thanks to Dewey and to those early read-a-thons, I met or strengthened my ties with people I still count among my dearest friends today.

Whether you’re a reader, a cheerleader, or both, I hope you’ll have a wonderful time on Saturday. Even if you spend most of your time reading (as I probably will this year), the shared experience of the read-a-thon matters: it’s a first step, a point of entry into a whole community of passionate readers, and who knows where that first step might lead. Who knows if the person you spot reading your favourite book and exchange a quick tweet with in the exhausted brain fog of hour 22 might eventually become your new bookish BFF? And even if all you get out of the social side of the read-a-thon is the warm fuzzy feeling of being part of the aforementioned nerdy virtual slumber party with a bunch of enthusiastic strangers, well, that’s far from nothing. It’s a meaningful shared experience in a world where they’re not always easy to come by.

Enjoy the read-a-thon, everyone. I know Dewey would be thrilled if she could see us today.

28 thoughts on “A Tribute to Dewey, April 2014

  1. Oh Ana, thank you. Gotta admit, I’ve been feeling pretty weepy this morning, and well, reading this could not have come at a better time. Okay, you didn’t make me feel any less weepy–the tears are falling this very moment. But this was beautiful, Ana. Just like you are. Just like Dewey was. *HUGE HUGS*


  2. Ana, thank you so much for posting this! I wasn’t sure if I should participate in the read-a-thon, but reading this post reminded me of all the good that Dewey did. She was remarkable and kind and funny. . . I’m thankful to everyone who keeps her event going twice a year.


  3. I am a brand newbie to the read-a-thon and after reading this tribute am even more glad to have you. You are carrying on the inspiration and spirit of your friend’s read-a-thon and passion for the blogging community…way. to. go!!


  4. Dewey passed 2 months before I started blogging. I wish I had gotten to meet her because she must have been a wonderful person. She would be so honored, I am sure, to have such wonderful friends writing her tributes and keeping the torch of the readathon going.


  5. Made me cry. Dewey’s was one of the first book blogs I discovered and I started blogging a few months before she passed away. I’m glad I got to share this space with her, if only for a short time. She would be delighted to see what this has grown into.


  6. Thank you so much for writing this, Ana! Just when I thought I was all cried out today, you went and made me cry again, lol. Happy tears though at those memories. I still do miss her so much though….every time around the readathon, it never fails that I go back and read some of my early readathon posts and the comments she left and it’s really bittersweet. So thankful for you and Andi and Heather and everyone else who has continued this on in her memory.


  7. Nymeth – for you are always Nymeth to me – thank you for this simple and beautiful tribute. It makes me both sad that I did not know Dewey, and grateful that you did. I believe I “met” you through my first Readathon back in… ’08 maybe? and through ins and outs of blogging and reading and readathon-ing, I’ve always felt such a fondness for you and your strikingly honest and open personality. I imagine that Dewey saw these and so many other lovely traits in you, as well. Thank you for seeing this event through every six months; I look forward to it even when I’m unable to participate. I’m all in for tomorrow, though. ❤


  8. This is such a nice post you’ve written. I never knew Dewey, and the first time I heard about her was last year when I first participated Dewey’s Readathon. But this post made really sad that I never got a chance to meet her and talk with her about the books I both have just finished. Happy readathon!!


  9. Ana thanks for your tribute I feel the same about Dewey. I think she would be so proud & honored that you guys kept the read-a-thon going & growing!!


  10. Such a nice tribute to Dewey – thank you for sharing your thoughts. I didn’t know her well, but she always struck me as a very kind and generous person. She is missed.


  11. Thank you so much for sharing this. No one knows how many people were touched by Dewey’s creation of the Readathon. For me, it was the first time I saw the warmth and friendship of the online reading community. Such a wonderful event!


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