09 December 2012

Bits and Bobs (the Barbara Pym Edition)

Barbara Pym is turning 100
The effervescent Amanda at Fig and Thistle (@nerdybookgirl) sent me a message this week on Facebook telling me that the centenary of Barbara Pym's birth was coming up in 2013. She suggested that we do something to mark the event. I was immediately on board. I love Barbara Pym, I like that she was having a nice round anniversary, and I like that there is plenty of time to get something good going.

We decided to host a Barbara Pym reading week in early June that nicely coincide with Pym's birthday on June 2nd. So off I went to the interwebs to look up images of Pym and came across the web page for the Barbara Pym Society of North America.

Not only do they have a really fun landing page, but they have merchandise and an announcement for their annual conference in Boston in March. I've already become a member and hope to get to the conference. The presentations sound fascinating (e.g., The Therapeutic Value of Barbara Pym Novels) and the kick-off event on Friday night is evensong at the Church of the Advent. Right up my alley. Plus the Boston Symphony Orchestra is doing a program that weekend that I would like to hear and I have only been to Boston once and that was about ten years ago.

Amanda and I aren't sure what the reading week will look like, but we do know it will be fabulous and appropriately Pymsian.

Save the Date:
Barbara Pym Reading Week
1-8 June 2013

I think this will be especially fun because there are many Pyms I haven't read. I have been saving them for the proverbial rainy day, but this seems like a good reason to go on a Pym binge. (Although binging of any sort doesn't seem particularly Pym-like.)

And speaking of 2013
Once again I am looking forward to C. B. James' TBR Double Dog Dare over at Ready When You Are, C.B. This is his annual event where those brave enough to take the dare only read books from their To Be Read (TBR) pile from January 1st through April 1st. This means that you only read whatever books are in your physical possession as of midnight on New Year's Eve. I have enjoyed this immensely the past two years. This year I plan to combine it with my ongoing attempts to get through the A Century of Books challenge. I am determined to finish that list off and I think I am going to try and finish it by April 1. And I have tracked down all of the books on that list and have them in my library so it fits in quite nicely.

I think C. B. has made a particularly clever button for this year's Dare.


  1. Since I am a Pym virgin, this will be an opportunity to end my innocence!

  2. Ditto to Ted. Haven't read her but I hope to...

  3. Thanks for the plug this morning. We've just passed 30 registered participants. I'm still hoping for 100 this year.

    I think I have a couple of un-read Barbary Pym books around her somewhere. I just may join in list up-coming June. I will check out the Pym Society web site.

  4. This is wonderful news. I love Barbara Pym and will certainly be on board. Thanks.

  5. I'm delighted to read about your Pym reading week plans. Over in the LibraryThing Virago group we've been reading Elizabeth Taylor this year (her centenary year), and would like to focus on Pym in 2013. I'll share this post with the group and eager await further developments!

  6. What synchronicity! I just finished Some Tame Gazelle on the train last night and had made a note to join the society when I got home. I am tentatively hoping to go to the Alliance of Literary Societies AGM in Oxford next June, because it is being hosted by the Barbara Pym Society, although I'd be attending with an Angela Thirkell Society hat on - something very '40s and hideous, I thought, perhaps as worn by Lady Bond (squashed felt) or Stokes (squashed but with shiny cherries?) would wear. Perfect circumstances for joining in, anyway.

  7. I'll look forward to joining in. I re-discovered Barbara Pym this year but still haven't read too many of her books.

    I'm also looking forward to the Double Dog Dare!

  8. Lisa May ^^^ just alerted me to this post and I am so glad she did! This year I have become a true Pymphomaniac and have read 6 of her novels since March. I absolutely adore her and am so excited now for her reading week. I will have to save some of her novels to read for it. Thank you!

  9. Excellent! I'll definitely participate in a Barbara Pym week... and I'm in for the TBR Double Dog Dare, too. The button makes me smile every time it pops up :-)

  10. Is Double Dog Dare an expression?

    I would be up for giving Pym a second try in June. I did enjoy Excellent Women, but not as much as I'd hoped I would. But that was 2004, so things might well have changed.

  11. I'll definitely join in! I love her novels but haven't re-read them in a while. The conference sounds great, too. Very tempting. (The Saturday night dinner is in the building where I work!)

  12. I will definitely participate in June! I've only read Excellent Women and loved it, and I have some Pyms on the TBR shelf that are sadly neglected.

    And the conference sounds like such fun! Wish I could find a way to get up to Cambridge. Funny, just yesterday I was talking to someone about other literary societies -- I'm a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and we had our chapter's annual Christmas party yesterday. We were trying to come up with other authors with societies, and we came up with Dickens, Poe, and Zola. So nice to hear about the Pym society! I'll have to pass that along to our JASNA group.

  13. little peoples! I used to have tons of those fisher price toys and I remember those little doggies. Not to veer too much off topic but I got so excited to see them!

  14. I'm another who has only recently discovered Barbara Pym, and cannot understand how I missed her before now, so a week dedicated to her sounds wonderful.

  15. I am also quite nostalgic about the Fisher Price little wooden people. We used to take them in the bath to play with but soon realized this made them swell so they would no longer fit in their little chairs, etc. Of course, now they are made of plastic.

    Would anyone like to recommend a Barbara Pym title for me to start with? My library has about 12 titles to choose from, but Excellent Women is not one of them. Thanks!

  16. Ted & Harvee: That's what I like about reading weeks. They are a great way to try out someone new and then have a bunch of other people in the same boat.

    CB: Since you own some already, you could read some Pym during the TBR dare.

    Harriet: Yay. Glad you will be joining us.

    Laura: I think ET has a lot more output than Pym.

    Geranium Cat: I love Some Tame Gazelle. It is my favorite Pym so far. They are even serving Cauliflower Cheese at the Pym conference.

    Lisa May: Good luck with the DDD.

    Anbolyn: Wow six of her novels since March. I have some catching up to do.

    JoAnn: Good, the more the merrier.

    Simon: There are dares, then double dares, then double dog dare--the highest form of dare. Try Some Tame Gazelle. I think you would be hard pressed not to like it.

    Audrey: If I go, maybe we could meet up for coffee or something.

    Karen K: Do you all wear Empire dresses when you meet?

    Stefan: I was so excited too. I hadn't thought about them for years.

    Christine: She is a fun one to discover. It has only been a few years for me.

    Ruthiella: Some Tame Gazelle is my favorite so far and I think rather funny and enjoyable to read. Interesting that your library doesn't have Excellent Women. I think it is her most famous.

  17. Count me in on this one, love Pym, and there are a few I'd like to re read

  18. great count me in Anboyln has made me want to read her must keep eye out for her books second hand now ,all the best stu

  19. I've just signed up for the TBR double dog dare! I haven't read anything by Pym yet so will have a think about it.

  20. You might be interested in this regarding reading Pym next year:


    I'm going to try and participate to some degree.

  21. I am looking forward to reading Pym in 2013. Your reading week will be a great event I'm sure.

  22. I am a member of the Pym society, and this March I made it to the conference at Harvard for the first time (I live outside Edinburgh, Scotland). It was a wonderful experience and one I can wholeheartedly recommend.

    I hadn't heard about the Literary Societies meeting, I'm off to look that up.

    I've read all BP's novels many times - I think Some Tame Gazelle is a good one to begin with, it's very gentle and funny. Excellent Women is the first one I ever read - I was spellbound and lay on my bed (in the middle of a Saturday afternoon - unheard of) engrossed to the very end. I would also recommend A Glass of Blessings and No Fond Return of Love.

    Hazel Holt's biography of BP is also a great read, and at the conference we saw some old film of Barbara & Hazel (they met whilst working together in London), and some more of Hazel now - she is a writer herself and in her 80s. Her son Tom is also an author.

    I will definitely try to participate in the June reading week.


  23. Oh, I love Barbara Pym as well, having just discovered her in the past couple of years. I have a few of her unread novels on my shelves: I've been rationing them :) Will join in happily to your Pym week!

  24. I'll definitely be joining you for a little Pym reading this year. I've only read Excellent Women which I loved, so am very much due for something else. Once I read EW, I started collecting her other books so I have plenty to choose from. I've also just started doing a Century of Books and am looking forward to adding my first title to the list (and choosing titles serendipitously at least to begin with). Good luck with your reading plans and the Barbara Pym conference sounds like a lot of fun!

  25. Thomas, I saw you planned the Pym week in an email from Open Road Media to me. What a great idea! I'm definitely going to join you, and the others, to celebrate her writing and 100th birthday on June 2, 2013. I have Excellent Women just waiting...


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