There are many things a person can do to pass the time during a temporary crisis. This Covid19 thing has shut us all in making trips to parks and outdoor playgrounds a very difficult prospect. Inside we can watch t.v., listen to the radio, play games, just talk, but the one that has given us much pleasure in our mountain retreat, is reading at night.
Each of us, my wife and I, choose books that we would like to have read. It has fallen my lot to be the narrator and reader. My wife thinks, right or wrong, that I am a better oral reader than herself. I probably have a little more practice in public speaking since she is shier than I am.
I thought it might be a good idea to share some of the stories we have read to see if there are others who might share the same taste in books that we enjoy.
The first book we read aloud was “Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc” as related by The Sieur Louis de Conte, put down in English by none other than Mark Twain. This book deals with her childhood all the way to her martyrdom by, of all things, her own church. It was a very sad account indeed!
The next book was called “The Story of the Other Wise Man” by Henry Vandyke, a fictional account of another man who was supposed to travel with the three other wise men to visit the young child, Jesus. He, through encountering different events was left behind to travel alone. This is a story of human sacrifice to the greatest degree! The book was made into a movie starring Martin Sheen.
“The Sad Shepherd” by Henry Vandyke told of a man who looked for those who spent their lives helping others for the good of all. This led him from the depths of despair to a time of great rejoicing!
The next book was called “Mother” by the western writer, Owen Wister, a story quite out of his genre, but deals with the early day stock market (1907) and a very surprising “Mother”.
“Abraham’s Bosom” by Basil King deals with a man who is dying and is visited by ‘beings’ who teach him the true purpose of living. This is one man’s idea about the hereafter.
Our next venture was into the far north, the Yukon country, in a book entitled, “God’s Country and the Woman”, by James Oliver Curwood. This story deals with a great problem encountered by a family in the early part of the Twentieth Century, and how a mystery was solved, amazingly, as the story grew to a finish. This deals with the hardships of those encountering deep snow and freezing temperatures in order to survive.
The next book we undertook was also by James Oliver Curwood and also dealt with the country to the far north in Canada, entitled, “The Valley of Silent Men”. This book is about a Northwest Mounted Policeman, James Kent, who agrees to sacrifice himself for the life of another man with whom he had shared other adventures. Kent was wounded in a gun battle about the same time that the other man was accused of murdering another man. Thinking he would be dead soon, from his wound close to the heart, he confesses to the murder his friend was accused of. This is a story of plot and counterplot and the time it takes to place blame where it really belongs. Curwood always seems to have beautiful mysterious women and strongwilled men who somehow win out in the end.
B.M. Bower was the pseudonym chosen by an early twentieth century writer of ranch fiction who was the author of some 50 or so books, as well as, short stories and articles about ranch life in the early days of cattlemen, rustlers, and nesters. This is all done with a very wry sense of humor. We are reading “The Flying U’s Last Stand” by this author. This book is filled with all the makings of a great western yarn, but with all the humor of the cowpokes of the Flying U ranch with events to pull at the heartstrings of us all.
It must be remembered that B.M. Bower is a lady writing western fiction and that she chose this pseudonym for the simple reason that she did not feel that those who read western fiction would accept all the plots concocted by a female author. She fooled them all until about the 1920’s when her true identity was revealed. By this time her stories had won the hearts of America and beyond and no one cared what her sex really was. Her real name was Bertha Muzzy Sinclair Bower, aka Mrs. Robert E. “Bud” Cowan. Her most famous story is “Chip of the Flying U” which was filmed several times, the last starring Johnny Mack Brown of Hollywood fame.
As you can see, we are having a great time reading during this pandemic. We recommend this for several reasons; passing time, catching up on stories of the past, practice in diction, (some of these stories require pronouncing words of other lands), togetherness, staying away from the boob tube and other devices, and hopefully, gaining knowledge not hitherto obtained. Hope you will check out some of these stories!