Book bloggers say goodbye to Dewey

Book bloggers were shocked and saddened by a post at The Hidden Side of a Leaf on Monday, December 1 from Dewey‘s husband:

Hi folks,

I’ve got a piece of sad news to deliver. Dewey passed away on Tuesday evening.

She will be cremated on a non-specific date this week. We live in a place with relatively relaxed laws abut these things, and I want to ensure her family has an opportunity to see her.

I’m not certain what to do with this site. On the one hand, it’d be kind of nice to have a couple of folks take it over and continue it; there’s both a lot of traffic here (you’d be surprised!) and a lot of history. She was a prolific reader, as you folks have no doubt noticed, and she really loved updating this place.

On the other hand, it’d be kind of nice to let this place rest. There’s a lot of energy and drive here, and I cannot imagine any two of you could have kept up with her. The piles and piles of books sitting around the house that she read but never reviewed (I hope you realise there’s not a word of exaggeration when I say there is easily well over a hundred) are a fitting testament to this.

My wife was unwell and in a lot of pain; I don’t believe she ever discussed that side of her life here, and I’ve no desire to go against her boundaries, just know she was in a lot of pain. I am sad that my wife is no longer here, but she’s not in pain any more.

Dewey was dedicated to book blogging, and didn’t bring her personal life to her blog very often. She had a husband and son whom she mentioned now and then, and she made occasional references to health issues but had never discussed them in detail on the blog, so this post was a shock to many of us.

Reactions to Dewey’s passing popped up quickly on the book blogs, and we talked about our surprise and sadness on Twitter.* Dewey was a valued member of the book-blogging community not only because of her insightful reviews and generous book giveaways (I won a couple of those myself), but because she did so much to help build and strengthen that very community. She was the originator and organizer of the Bookworms Carnival (recently bumped up to twice a month, and currently running Edition #18 at Bookopolis), the 24-Hour Read-a-Thon – a semi-annual event in which I never was able to participate, but I hereby propose that if it continues next year, the next one should be dedicated to Dewey – and Weekly Geeks, and she was helping with this year’s Book Bloggers Christmas Swap. At the time of her death, she was in the midst of a huge giveaway project on her blog that included cross-promotion of other bloggers’ giveaways, and was still working on compiling the Weekly Geeks’ Best Books of 2008 listings.

It’s a marvel to me how she was able to keep all of these projects going and read books at the pace she did while managing her illness.

Those of us she leaves behind in the book-blogging community are wondering what will become of Dewey’s various projects, but we hope at least some of them can continue. They may be too much for any one person who isn’t her to take on, but maybe a few people will be open to picking them up, perhaps in teams. Speaking for myself, I’d be willing to be part of a team to keep at least one of them going (and am discussing this with another blogger at the moment – when there’s news, I’ll share!), but I know I don’t have the time (or time-management skills) to do more than that, unfortunately. I hope others might be willing to volunteer for this too – we might not be able to do these things the way that Dewey did, but I feel that they mean too much to the community to let them fade away.

My condolences go out to Dewey’s family, and I hope they know that she had many friends out here in the blogiverse. We will miss her greatly, and we hope to keep her community-building activities going as a fitting legacy to her.

* If you know of a post about Dewey that I missed, please leave me a link and I’ll be glad to edit this to include it! There’s also a great summary of reactions on BlogHer.

More responses:
Tanabata, Heather J., Joanne (Book Zombie), Becky, Wordlily (2 posts), Marg

Raych at books i done read has suggested a “RIP Dewey” button for our sidebars; Bethany and Stephanie have both created some options.

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  1. Florinda, Thank you for this wonderful post and all the links. Dewey was an amazing woman – I am still reeling from the news of her passing. I like the idea of picking up her projects in “teams”…a true community effort which seems fitting. I would be willing to be involved with that as well…please add my name to the list of bloggers who could help out (caribousmom (at) gmail (dot) com

  2. Florinda – Wow, what a loss for the community. You wrote an amazing piece here. She was clearly an inspiration to you. We need more book bloggers like you and her! Again, what a loss. Thanks for the great post.

  3. I was thinking that it might be nice for those bloggers who are Weekly Geeks to pay tribute to Dewey in the next week or so. To take the time to post to their blogs a “Weekly Geek” post about Dewey–maybe share their favorite posts from her site, maybe share a memory or two about participating in weekly geeks, the bookworms carnival, the 24 Hour Readathon, or one of Dewey’s challenges, maybe just share a favorite memory of Dewey in general, what they’ll miss most, how they’ll remember her, etc. I’m going to try to post mine this Saturday–but bloggers anywhere and everywhere are encouraged to post whenever they want.

    If you’re interested please SPREAD the word to all your blogging friends.

  4. Kathy (Bermudaonion) – I know. I think part of the shock for us out here is that we didn’t really know much about Dewey’s health. Her family did, but that’s not to say it’s any easier for them.

    Anna – Yes, she will. I had looked for a Weekly Geeks post from her this past Saturday…when there wasn’t one, I thought maybe she was taking off for the holiday, but I missed it – and I didn’t even know she was gone yet.

    Wendy – I guess I’ve volunteered myself to coordinate this :-). I will have a follow-up post about that later today, and I have put you on the list.

    Caroline – Thank you – and you’re welcome :-). The quality of Dewey’s book reviews inspired me to make mine better, and her excitement about building the book-blogging community was contagious.

    Becky – Terrific idea! Consider the word spread, and I’ll also mention it in the post I have going up later today.

  5. I would love to be on the list for the read-a-thons!! I agree that the next one should honour dewey for sure.

    I would be interested in being on the read-a-thon team, or heading it up, whatever the need is let me know. 🙂

  6. I hope we can keep all Dewey’s events going too. I don’t know that I can take any on at this time but I will help if there’s a way I can.

  7. For those who are members of the Book Blogs group on Ning, please join in the discussion started by Natasha (Maw Books) about ways to keep Dewey’s projects going. (If you’re not in the group, join up!) Share your ideas and, if you’d like to be part of a team to continue a particular event, speak up over there.

    Bethany – I think the main team for the Read-a-Thon has stepped up (Trish, Nymeth, and wordlily), but that’s a HUGE project and I’m sure they’d welcome more hands.

    Callista, Marg, Softdrink – Thank you for stopping by and for wanting to be involved.

  8. You are doing such a great thing, Florinda. So many bloggers are. Dewey did so much for the book blogging community and it’s good to see that her efforts will continue even in her absence. She was an inspiration to so many of us.

  9. Wendy (Literary Feline) – I think my list-compilation phase is about over; things are starting to get organized. Natasha at Maw Books set up a discussion group in Book Blogs on Ning that accomplished a lot. It’s great to see how we have been brought together as a community and want to keep that going – we owe Dewey a lot, and we’ll miss her a lot too.