One-Minute Book Reviews

July 31, 2007

To Thine Own Birthday Be True

Filed under: Nonfiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:14 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“The secret of eternal youth is arrested development.”
–Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Today is my birthday (did you get me a present?), and I share it with actress Geraldine Chaplin, ballplayer Hank Bauer and spiritualist Helena Blavatsky. I learned this from Linda Rannells Lewis’s The Birthday Book: Their Delights, Disappointments, Past and Present, Worldly, Astrological and Infamous (Little Brown, 1976), which includes a list of famous people born on each day of the year. This graceful meditation on how people have seen birthdays — from pagan times to the disco era — is neither so scholarly that it’s impenetrable nor so lightweight that it has nothing to say. And I like it partly because many of its examples come from great books. Remember Natasha Rostov’s thirteenth Name Day party in War and Peace? Or A.A. Milne’s rhyme: “But now I’m six, I’m as clever as clever / So I think I’ll be six for ever and ever.” Lewis does, and although her book is out-of-print, it may be ripe for a new edition for stop-the-clock baby boomers. The epigraph comes from Dyan Thomas’s “Poem in October”: “O may my heart’s truth / still be sung / On this high hill in a year’s turning.”

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Well well. Happy Birthday! Let’s see, you have a magnetic personality…you are the life of the party, you like attention, no no…you CRAVE attention and you like to be hand fed. Is that true?

    My little boy shares his birthday with you. He’s one today. 🙂


    Comment by P — July 31, 2007 @ 3:52 am | Reply

  2. Happy Birthday!

    I believe you also share it with J.K. Rowling…See today’s “Writer’s Almanac” from Garrison Keillor in which he gives a brief bio of Rowling:

    And thanks for this site. I really enjoy your reviews.

    Comment by Jon — July 31, 2007 @ 10:04 am | Reply

  3. Phil: Wow, you nailed me. Especially that part about liking to be hand-fed. These words are being written by somebody who, while in Scotland, actually ate that Scottish national hand-held food, the fried Mars Bar …

    Jon: Checked the public radio site, and you’re right about J.K. Rowling’s birthday being today. I like your example MUCH better than mine.

    Oddly enough, I didn’t think I was going to be able to review “Deathly Hallows” on a timely basis, because I don’t accept free books, $35 is too steep for a novel I might not like, and I was sure many people would be ahead of me on the library waiting list. But last night I went to the library, and there “DH” was, sitting on the checkout counter. I asked a clerk, “Is this book actually available for checkout?” He said it was, and I said, “It must be because my birthday is tomorrow.” I didn’t know it was Rowling’s birthday, too. A harmonic convergence in the NJ suburbs? At any rate, now I get to review the book (I hope) within a week or so.

    Thanks a million for your kind words about the site, too.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — July 31, 2007 @ 10:59 am | Reply

  4. Happy birthday Jan!

    Love your site.

    Comment by heehler — July 31, 2007 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  5. Thanks, Tom. I really appreciate all the greetings, because I don’t think I’m going to be getting any from Newt, do you? Jan

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — July 31, 2007 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

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