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Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
The Way Some People Die
Ross Macdonald
Envy of Angels
Matt Wallace
The Fellowship of the Frog
Edgar Wallace
Code of Conduct (The Jani Kilian Chronicles Book 1)
Kristine Smith
A Good Death
Christopher R. Cox
The Black Cargo
John P. Marquand
A Highland Christmas
M.C. Beaton
Tales from Moominvalley
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
Moominland Midwinter
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton

The House of a Thousand Candles

The House of a Thousand Candles - Meredith Nicholson My spouse recently found an old newspaper from 1905 behind a mirror on an old piece of furniture we had bought in Cambridge when we were newly weds, back in the dark ages. Interestingly, the paper was from Baltimore, the city of my birth. How it got into a mirror on a bureau in Cambridge, MA is a mystery.

Anyway, one of its pages listed some books one might buy as Christmas presents. The list had little summaries. I decided to check a few of them out. I could find several of the authors listed, but not the books listed with them, with one exception. I did find The House of a Thousand Candles by Meredith Nicholson. Actually, that's not quite true. I found a couple of the others, but only in pay form. I won't pay for books on kindle unless I actually own them, i.e. can lend them or give them away with impunity.

Whatever, this book is a sort of gothic novel, I suppose. A young man inherits a strange old, unfinished mansion in the Indiana woods, but only on the proviso that he lives in the house for a full year, that he doesn't have a bunch of live-in guests, and that he doesn't leave, other than for short trips into town (an easy 2-mile walk--yes people used to walk to get places and 2 miles wasn't all that unusual.) to the post office and such like.

As soon as he gets to the house, someone tries shooting him through the window. He begins to hear weird sounds, e.g. foot steps in the walls. He hears snatches of conversation that tells him people are out to get him. People think there's buried treasure of some sort in the house, but no one can find it. There's a girls school, run by nuns, protestant ones no less, just on the other side of the wall, and at least one of the school's inhabitants is bewitching. And so forth.

This is not deathless literature, and is obviously dated. Some of the attitudes expressed in the book are a bit creepy to a more modern sensibility (e.g. attitudes toward women and "rubes", i.e. midwesterners--oh wait some folks still think we're ignorant rubes [I have midwestern roots and lived in both Kansas and Ohio for extended periods of time]). But it's an interesting enough yarn and perfectly fine escapist literature, even if the main character is a bit of an ass. I've read much worse.