Yesterday I finished reading Anne Rivers Siddons' novel Heartbreak Hotel. The story is set in 1956 and takes its name from Elvis Presley's best selling single from that year. It's about Maggie Deloach, a Southern college girl, and how her view of the Southern way of life changes. I enjoy Siddons' books because her characters are always so well developed that it's easy to image they are real individuals. The story takes place during the time of the Civil Rights Movement, and Maggie is ostracized when she publishes an article in the college newspaper showing empathy for a black man. I've read quite a few of Anne Rivers Siddons' books over the last several years. I didn't realize until I looked it up today that Heartbreak Hotel was her first published novel and that it is in part based on her own life and experiences.
Today I also finished the 1954 elementary textbook Keeping Healthy and Strong that I picked up at a flea market recently to add to my collection of children's books. Over the past three years, I've been reading books on healthy living, exercise, and good nutrition. It was fun to read this book designed for elementary students, teaching them about their body and things they could do to stay healthy.
I'm always reading several books at one time. People often ask me how I can do this without getting them all confused, and I reply it's because the books are usually from different genres. It was interesting to be reading these two books at the same time - one was set in 1956 and had the Civil Rights Movement as a main theme and the other was published in 1954 and all the illustrations were of white students, teachers and parents. It just reinforced how racial integration had not yet fully occurred during that time frame. It also seemed strange to me since now all our textbooks show many diverse cultures and ethnicities. Many other things have changed too as evidenced by this quote from Keeping Healthy and Strong: Fresh milk, as you know, comes in bottles of glass or cardboard, which are usually delivered by the milkman.