Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

What VL Has Meant to Me


When my friend Leena invited me to join a group of book lovers who reviewed what they read, I was thrilled and also a bit intimidated. Leena herself is an intelligent and humorous person who has no idea how brilliant she is. I only knew one other person in the group, Moira, but I tried to be brave about the others. My first post was about my favorite book, Oscar and Lucinda on the second day of the site’s existence. After years of reading the book reviews in my local paper and thinking I too, could be a book reviewer, at last I was one! It didn’t pay anything, but that’s Ok, I got to write about books and join in discussing those that others did. Win-win!
That was 10 years ago on Wednesday and I remain thrilled. In looking back, I realized that it wasn’t just the bookish aspect which affected me, but I also grew as a person. One of the things I’ve had trouble with over the years is members coming and going. Being upset at people leaving, either with an announcement or a gradual drift, is understandable. But I also had problems with new people who joined,though not in the usual way. In the early years, I took it all so seriously; VL was this lofty, literate website and even if we wrote about things in a funny way, it had to be on a certain intellectual level. So when Comrade Kirsty decided to write about the band Kiss, I was appalled. “What level are we going to sink to next?” I wondered. I kicked up such a fuss that Moira had to take me aside and privately warn me that my actions wouldn’t be tolerated. I gasped. Not only was I in danger of being kicked out of VL, but Moira was turning her Stern Schoolmarm laser beams on me. Trust me, that is a scary spot to be in. It took a lot of effort, but I managed to suppress my bad behavior. Now when I consider that whole situation, I’m embarrassed at how awful I had been.
VL has been one of my safe spaces online.It’s a true community. The Foxes encourage each other, celebrating new babies and grandbabies, career achievements and happy events. And we commiserate when one of us is sick or sad or upon the death of a pet or other loved one. I have been the recipient of great generosity from the Foxes, moved to tears of gratitude and humility in my astonishment. And I’m not the only one to receive such kindness, the Foxes have great hearts.
Though I had always dabbled in writing, I’m aware of my own limitations. I never had any aspirations to write a Great Novel and my life has been too boring for a memoir. And since some of my fellow Foxes are real authors, I’ve learned just how much work goes into writing a book, which is way more involved than most people, even devoted readers, realize. Thus, writing for VL is perfect for my limited range, though I am continually trying to improve technically. And I still use too many exclamation marks! The other Foxes are better writers than I, but that makes me appreciative of their styles, their humor and their insights. Their experiences are wider than mine and they often profile stories and authors that are new to me.
So VL has been a font of education, inspiration and most importantly, friendship. It’s gone beyond the website for me, which means I’ll treasure my participation till the end of my days.

Illustration of fox holding a book found on Pinterest.

12 comments on “What VL Has Meant to Me

  1. Moira
    October 16, 2017

    Stern Schoolmarm checking in. Bless your good heart Jackie, you’ve been our loyal rock all these years – in many ways the best of us, and not short on a few shrewd insights yourself. Thank you. 🙂

  2. Jackie
    October 16, 2017

    lol Glad you weren’t offended, Moira. Thank you for the very kind words.

  3. RosyB
    October 16, 2017

    Goodness, Jackie – you’ve made me very moved reading this. At the same time I want to shout at you for putting yourself down in line after line of this post! (You aren’t the only one who can do exclamation marks – see! See!!!!) Who was it who introduced the whole idea of Poetry Week – now one of VL’s most successful fixtures? Who did that fabulous article that introduced me to Wyeth’s landscapes? Who has worn her heart on her sleeve in a unique way that captures the whole heart and essence of bookblogging? I feel honoured to know you, my friend. Honoured. And so pleased that I got to meet and work with someone on the other side of the world that I probably wouldn’t have met under normal circumstances. VL has been a rather international collaboration in its time, and very special for that. Happy Anniversary VL and lifting a glass to you, Jackie. (!!!!!) x

  4. Jackie
    October 16, 2017

    Oh Rosy, that was so funny & sweet. And happy that I helped you find Wyeth’s landscapes, I know you appreciate them in a way that only a painter could. Thank you for your amusing & touching response to this!

  5. Lisa
    October 17, 2017

    I echo everything Rosy says. What a wonderful piece, Jackie! xx

  6. Jackie
    October 17, 2017

    Thanks, Lisa, that’s nice of you to say. 🙂

  7. Kate
    October 17, 2017

    For the rest of the reading public, Jackie is the rock that Vulpes Libris stands on. She makes sure the weeks get scheduled. She chases the forgetful ones in the cheeriest, unblamingest way. (Blame doesn’t exist in the Vulpes Libris universe, and Jackie’s blogging ethos is the reason why.) She is chirpy when the rest of us have forgotten that fun exists in the world, and she invents theme weeks to stir us all up. Vulpes Libris could not have got to ten years without our Jacks.

  8. Jackie
    October 17, 2017

    Oh my goodness, Kate, this is too much praise. I think you give me too much credit. You’re right that blame doesn’t exist in VL, which is a wonderful change from the real world. Thank you for all of the kind words. 🙂

  9. Hilary
    October 18, 2017

    It’s all been said, Jacks. You are our rock, and this new girl (a mere eight-and-a-half years in) says it has been the greatest pleasure to get to know you through our shared love of books, and art, and poems…and…and… Thank you for the friendship, and the tolerance of my weird Randoms, and above all for keeping me organised in the gentlest, most good-humoured way possible. (The World will never know just how many conversations in the den start ‘Hilary must be busy, so I’ll get things started for next week’.) Happy Tenth Birthday to the Bookfoxes!

  10. Pingback: Whither Vulpes Libris? | Vulpes Libris

  11. Kae Elizabeth Carter
    October 18, 2017

    Jackie, I love your writing. And I love you!

  12. Jackie
    October 18, 2017

    Thanks for your kind words, Kae and Hilary. I really didn’t expect such an outpouring of affection from my sentimental little post. I must remember to return to this post when I’m feeling down or having a bad day.

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This entry was posted on October 16, 2017 by in Entries by Jackie and tagged , , .

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Acknowledgment

  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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