Been reading a lot lately never happy unless I have 5 or 6 in the on-deck circle.
God bless the library with its endless supply of tomes not yet read.
1) How Do Be A Movie Star…Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood (2009), by William J. Mann is what I’m reading now. He’s very selective in 9 essays starting with Cleopatra and her flamboyant affair with Richard Burton to the rules, according to Liz. It’s what I call well-written fluff perfect for a snowy afternoon. One of the funnier things I read…when she and Richard Burton got married for the second time, they had two hippopotamuses as witnesses. Madam didn’t just have jewels and husbands, she also had a great sense of humor.
2) Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway (1964) a book I pick up every winter about his stay in Paris in the 20s when he was 25 years-old, married, broke and still unknown. It’s so vivid I can see myself sitting at the Cafe Select with a brandy and soda watching him write knowing he’s wearing a sweatshirt as underwear to keep warm. I can even smell the fresh rolls wafting while he makes his way to Sylvia Beach’s book shop, the original Shakespeare and Co, to borrow a little Turgenev from her lending library he’s too poor to buy. Makes you want to pack a bag and head straight to JFK bound for Orly.
3) Me and My Shadows (1998) by Lorna Luft, about her mother Judy Garland. She got me in the prologue when she said, many people have written about my mother, but I was there. Okay Lorna, you’re on, especially since we both had mothers with addiction.
4) Brave Companions: Portraits in History (1991), David McCullough’s noble collection of historical essays I’ve read before. It’s a favorite present of mine since it’s a dip into history hopefully whetting the receiver’s appetite for more. I reread my favorites…The Builders…the men who built Brooklyn Bridge. The Treasure From the Carpentry Shop… rediscovering the original plans to the bridge from 1869, becoming a formidable exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Washington on The Potomac with all the things that make it so special tempting me to jump the Acela to see it once more. What may be my true favorite is Extraordinary Times, seeing through his eyes how lucky we are to live at this time in history as far back as 1936.
5) Hallowed Ground (2003), James M. McPherson, a professor at Princeton’s annual tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield he conducts on behalf of his students. I never get tired of reading about the American Civil War. It makes me turn to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address given in 1863 at the new cemetery chosen because there were just too many fallen to move anyplace else. 50,000 lost in 3 days both sides combined.
Last but not least…
A friend and former teacher had the privilege hearing him speak at a local high school where he mounted the stage in jeans and a blazer pulling a well-worn, dog-eared paperback from his back pocket.
He looked out at his young, eager audience and said,