This summer became a bit of a blur because I wasn’t as engaged with my reading as in past summers. There were too many tasks that needed to be done and everything fell to myself because it’s only me now. If I don’t do it, then it doesn’t happen or it doesn’t get done. Period. At some point I was supposed to become a millionaire. What happened to that ? Well, I hope I get to that point and sooner rather than later. Anyway, the following is a poem that my mother kept by her station for many years and is actually the truth. Before I could read a word, I remember my Mom reading my books to me and I could read at a third grade level before I started kindergarten ! True story. As you read on you’ll get my account of the reading I managed to do this summer and hopefully will be interesting for you. – The Castle Lady
She sat beside my bed each night
Reading stories old and new.
She instilled in me a love for books
Because she loved them, too.
A mother, now, I love to read
Here in my rocking chair.
A little one held in my lap
What special time we share.
I wouldn’t trade my childhood,
For wealth or royalty.
Because when I was growing up
My mother read to me.
Dawn E. McCormick, TX
Occasionally I check out children’s literature just to see what’s hip in the 8 and under realm and I found a cute book titled The Secret of Cacklefur Castle written by Geronimo Stilton who writes prolifically on many subjects in story form. The plot is tight but uncomplicated and extremely interesting for children and the illustrations are absolutely wonderful and includes a cartoon plan of the castle which will delight children and adults. Its humor is definitely in the accelerated range for children so keep a dictionary handy if you read to your child and I highly recommend that you do that for those children who are only starting to learn how to read. Don’t worry about keeping a child engaged if the words seem big. All children will rise to the challenge if the illustrations keep the story exciting and this is definitely the case. Don’t be surprised if your child becomes a Geronimo Stilton fan.
I chanced upon finding a copy of Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune which was written by a relative and another author who was keen on researching and writing about Huguette and her father who seemed to be opposite sides of a vast amount of money. W.A. Clark, a 19th century copper multi-millionaire, is unknown to most people today but he was right up there with the Astors and Carnegie with one of the most beautiful mansions on Fifth Avenue. As a person who lived the privileged life of sole beneficiary to a vast fortune, Huguette became a very generous person to those she felt she knew but her wealth seemed to stymy her talents and she became trapped in an acquisitive lifestyle that is the fate of the super rich. Before the book came out I had seen a write up in the paper when she passed away at the age of 104 on May 24, 2011- only two weeks prior to what would have been her 105th birthday.
She had occupied a hospital bed for twenty years at the time of her passing even though she was not ill and was infamous as a recluse who patronized the arts. This book strips away what was known and opens up a third person narrative that showcases what an incredible life she had led and also gives us a good idea of how her father amassed his fortune from simple prospecting to acquiring businesses and land. Huguette was fascinating in her true persona rather than the one which was supposed by photojournalists and paparazzi. Those people who managed to get close reveal a warm-hearted, compassionate and generous soul who was as devoted to her doll collection as she was to her small and close circle of friends and those she patronized. To those who are fascinated by great wealth, this book will delight you no end!
Obtaining a copy of I am Malala this year proved to be a bit of a struggle but I did manage to finally borrow a copy from the library. It was not an easy read in that the subject matter of what happened to Ms. Yousafzai when she dared defy the extremist Islamic faction in her town came to blows. She had received attention in Pakistan by encouraging other girls and women to get an education and had been very vocal about her opinions and views. Only days after my mother passed away back in October 2012, I remember hearing and reading the news reports that she had been singled out, on a bus she was riding with her best friend to school, by the Taliban and was shot in the face at point blank range. From that point, she was whisked out of the country in critical condition and she tells all of her tale with such aplomb that I was extremely impressed with her courage. All women in the free world should read this book to understand what other women face in third world countries when they dare to defy the stereotypes and forge their own path. It made me understand what I’ve been taking for granted.
I also managed to find time to get a hold of a copy of the LOA anthology of Shirley Jackson’s best known novels and stories. I have been a Shirley Jackson fan from way back and adore almost everything she ever wrote. Her most famous novels are included in it such as We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House both of which I read as a teenager. I was most interested in reading some of the stories which were published in this book for the first time and was pleasantly surprised at the volume of stories I had never read before. For all of you who have not so much as been introduced to her, do please check out this book at the library or go to LOA’s web site and obtain this book. Ms Jackson was one of the preeminent literary novelists of any time period in the English language and Queen of the Unordinary because she could illuminate mundane lives and use a bizarre but completely plausible twist to set you on your head.
I could go on and on but I think I’ve given you a brief idea of where my head’s been at this summer. This has been light reading for this year and I hope to have some big reports for you soon on my favorite subject. Castles.