Some of the best books are often found by accident. While searching through her mother's bookcase for something to read, she found, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, which was published in 1951 by a relatively unknown author, who had written some short stories in the 1940s, where he had introduced the main character, Holden Caufield, in two of them but this book made him a significant writer of his time.
The issues raised in the book and his tale of the human condition was both fascinating, enlightening and depressing. It was a critical look at the problems facing America's youth during the 1950's. The book served as a basis for much controversy and debate with critics arguing about the moral issues raised by the book. The reader admitted, “she knew nothing about the book or its author, but her mind was blown after the very first page.” She continued by saying, “I hadn't known that a book could speak so directly to a reader.”
When reading a book from an earlier time in history, it is always important to look into the historical background, which sets the scene for the book and the characters and helps a reader understand the context of where and when the book was written.
Somewhat like the experience I had with the Faulkner book dropping at my feet, which led me to read As I Lay Dying, which I have now completed but I was challenged by the dialect used by Faulkner and the real meaning of some passages. It did not dissuade me from reading another Faulkner book for my next classic, The Sound and the Fury. I have already put The Catcher in the Rye on my re-discover reading list. I remember reading both of these books in high school but that was more than 50 years ago and more than 5,500 books ago. That's figuring an average of two books a week, sometimes three or four or maybe only one book, for 50 years and 104 a year, rounding off to 100 a year for 58 years.
I do remember that there was quite a bit of controversy about our senior class reading the book by Salinger and that our senior English teacher, Miss Buckwalter, took a lot of flack about using the book as a class reading assignment rather than on the senior English reading list. She had us reading many of the critics comments before we read the book which was quite odd. She explained she wanted us to look for examples of the critics comments as we read the book and note what our reaction was when we discussed the book in class. That was a departure from most reading assignments for the advanced English classes in the late 1950s. Also, the book was released in 1951 which made it pretty fresh on everybody's list of controversial books during that decade of the 1950s.
Another reader expressed her love for anything written by Emily Bronte, who she considered to be the author of the greatest psychological novel written, in her opinion. She considered the character of Heathcliff, “as the most complex character conceived,” but she said her reaction to that character changed as she advanced in age. “When she first read Wuthering Heights, at age 18, she thought Heathcliff was a romantic hero. However, when read at age 30, he appeared to be a monster and by age 50, you could see that he was just human.”
For those who enjoy a thriller type book, this book is recommended, which also has some history as it unravels. The book, Americas Greatest Bank Burglary, by Amil Dinsio, who writes about the historic heist in 1972.
Dinsio was urged to write his own account about the escapade of his brother James and he because others had written about the historic heist and botched the facts. As a result, Dinsio decided to set the record straight and tell how it was really done, why and what they found in some of the safe deposit boxes, which became the other story not initially revealed previously.
The book focuses on the big heist at the United California Bank in Laguana Niguel, Calif., in April 1972. Dinsio also accuses the FBI agents and the U.S. Attorney General of committing theft, perjury and falsifying evidence in their efforts to lock him up for seven years.
The heist included emptying hundreds of safe deposit boxes over the course of three nights, which included $12 million in cash belonging to Richard M. Nixon. who was president of the United State at that time, when the heist took place. Nixon was forced to resign in August of 1974, due to the Watergate Scandal during his administration and his alleged part in the fiasco. The cash that was recovered from Nixon's safe deposit boxes, alledgedly, had been hidden away because it came from bribes and other underhanded dealings by Nixon.. Prior to reading this book, it might be worthwhile to go back and check the news coverage in April 1972 and see what was actually revealed at the time about the historic heist.
One of my favorite people in Stephenville e-mailed me about a book she thought would be interesting to our Breckenridge readers and said she continued to enjoy my Historically Speaking column in the Saturday paper and was really enjoying the new column about what people are reading. She added her own suggestion for the football fans of Breckenridge who might be interested in this book by Dr. Rick Sherrod, Texas High School Football Dynasties. The author is a history teacher at Stephenville High School and it is his second book about Texas football. Among the dynasties he mentions in the book are Waco, Breckenridge, Stephenville and many, many more. Her husband was a coach and her son is a coach, so she was interested in what the author had to say about Breckenridge, since they had retired and lived here for many years and were active in the community. Thank you for your input and am glad your enjoying reading. She is sending me a copy of the book.
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