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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

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas
Jules Verne
The Spirit of the Border
Zane Grey
Ramona the Brave (Ramona, #3)
Beverly Cleary
The Underground Man (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Ross Macdonald
Delilah of the Snows
Harold Bindloss
Mrs. Miniver
Jan Struther
Betsy-Tacy Treasury (P.S.)
Maud Hart Lovelace
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
The Way Some People Die
Ross Macdonald
Envy of Angels
Matt Wallace


Pollyanna - Eleanor H. Porter This was a surprisingly good book. Pollyanna is not an insipid character. Rather, she is a strong, young woman who makes a game of finding silver linings in gray clouds. But more importantly, by her irrepressibly, she brings a town full of repressed, early 20th-century Yankees, into people who begin to find themselves able to "count their blessings" (as my grandmother might say it). Pollyanna has a glad game. When something happens, she ponders what is it about that happening for which one can be glad? Sort of along the line, "I'm glad I had my accident, because it enabled two estranged lovers to reconnect". Well, it sounds a bit silly and saccharin, but Pollyanna has a way of making it more sensible.

Referring to someone as a Pollyanna has become, in our cynical society, a rather pejorative term. We now think of Pollyannas as being mindlessly cheerful and insipid. But if people could reconnect with the original Pollyanna, perhaps they'd see that being upbeat doesn't necessarily require one to be insipid.

The only real problem I had with this book, a cognitive one on my part, is that Pollyanna was continually referred to as being a "little girl". Well, she was 11. Even as late as the 1950s, girls of 11 were only removed by a year or two from the age at which their parents could marry them off in some states (like New Hampshire, for example). It's weird how our perceptions change.