The Reading Connection

September 30, 2008

Linda Hewitt opens a dialogue about Neat Old Books, books that are simply too pleasurable to be forgotten. In this first post, Linda fondly recalls the grandmother who read nonstop and early inculcated her with a love of the written word.

MEET MAGGIE:

My mother Evelyn was the youngest daughter of this lady – Maggie Mosteller McClendon, seen here as a teenager around 1910.

MAGGIE LOVED TO READ:
Maggie read the way most people breathe and always had as many books around as budget and space would allow. Her taste ran to P.G. Wodehouse and Somerset Maugham, as well as to mystery writers of almost any kind, from Agatha Christie, through Earle Stanley Gardner, and on to Mickey Spillaine and Ian Fleming (it was the mystery that absorbed her, not the style).

MAGGIE’S READING ROUTINE AS I KNEW IT:
By the time I came along, Maggie spent much of her day, on the porch in summer and before the fire in winter, reading whatever was at hand. Each night, before she went to bed, she read a chapter from her worn, almost tattered Bible; each morning found her devouring the short stories then published in magazines like Colliers, The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Woman’s Home Companion, Ladies Home Journal, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.

MAGGIE’S NEED FOR WORDS:
I spent a lot of time visiting Maggie and my grandfather Dennis, and in her I saw a person who craved words, plot lines, character development, and literary atmosphere the way all addicts crave the substance that gets them going. Having access to her drug of choice was as much a necessity for Maggie as alcohol is for the drunkard. Reading, Maggie entered worlds she would never otherwise visit and met people concerned with issues so far from those that crowded in upon her existence that following their resolution was a form of catharsis, precisely because they were totally outside her experience and so were only interesting and not depressing or worrying.

I WANTED TO DO WHAT MAGGIE DID:
In the first few years of my life, I probably spent half my time with Maggie and my grandfather Dennis. Seeing how much fun Maggie derived from the simple process of picking up and opening a book, I couldn’t wait to do the same.
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