BY-WAYS - 1/8/40 - Best Books of '39

Happy New Year to you all! The nice thing about the New Year is that, unlike Christmas, it is not all over in one day, but is brand new - at least not shop-worn - for at least a month; and we have a chance, right up to the three-hundred-sixty-fifth day (this year, 366), to make it better than last year. At the end of the old year we always look back, and total up the good, and see if it outweighs the bad. First of all I would like to pass on to you a list of 25 books for 1939 that our ace critic of Cleveland, Ted Robinson, considers "memorable" - not necessarily the best, but because of some outstanding quality they remain in his memory, so that he did not have to look up the lists:

Sandburg's "Abraham Lincoln, The War Years";
Sherwood's "Abraham Lincoln in Illinois";
Beard's "America in Mid Passage";
Milne's "Autobiography";
Forester's "Captain Horatio Hornblower";
Di Donato''s "Christ in concrete";
Van Passen's "Days of Our Years";
Vance's "Escape";
Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath";
Guedalla's "The Hundred Years";
Adams' "The Incredible Era";
Strong's "Ivanhoe Keeler";
Scudder's "Jane Welsh-Carlyle";
Morley's "Kitty Foyle";
Goulding's "Mr. Emmanuel";
Asch's "The Nazarene";
Jenning's "Next to Valour";
Ferber's "A Peculiar Treasure";
Household's "Rogue Male";
Selby's "Sam";
White's "The Sword in the Stone";
Canby's "Thoreau";
Hooten's "The Twilight of Man";
Wolfe's "The Web and the Rock";
Marquand's "Wickford Point".

Mr. Robinson goes on to say, "I know I must have missed some very good ones out of that list. I know my memory is treacherous. But there is something that keeps those titles in my mind. They must be pretty good!" ***

Admiral Byrd, with his mammoth snow cruiser aboard ship, is on another voyage and "cruise" of discovery. Scientists all over the world are peering into their microscopes, that they may discover new ways to help mankind. God made His mysteries deep, so that man may keep busy his whole lifetime, just learning how to solve his personal problems, which include the problem of how to get along with others; and for those that get a head start, they may work on solving some of the mysteries of our little earth, which is only a tiny speck in God's scheme of things. Some go further, and study the stars; but they can't do a thing about them, as yet. One of the most fascinating studies, to me, is the exploration of the human mind...and spirit. How we long to look into the mind and heart of a child! Little, helpless creatures, that, in their very inarticulateness, cry out to be understood! I have tried to understand ours, and in this past year have seemed to make a little more progress. One is grateful to a merciful Creator, who brings these young people around to their proper niche, in spite of all our blundering. Looking back over 1939, I discovered - nothing new - but just the age-old verities, that I found and proved workable: That the softer you speak, the better children hear you. That courage, like a muscle, grows with use. That children love to be confided in; that confidence begets confidence. That when children reach the teen age, a mother must keep honey on her tongue, but plenty of iron in her soul. That mothers worry far too much - needlessly. That optimism is very contagious among children. (Warning note: so is pessimism). That, though children protest violently against certain restrictions, they are happier and feel more secure in a home of law and order. ***

Other Miscellaneous Discoveries: That when you cease caring so terribly what other people think, you suddenly find that they think more of you. That all the creams and muscle oils - applied faithfully - won't help that scrawny, creepy neck of mine. That my beloved is getting bald. That I am more in love with him than ever. That Home really is the hub of the universe. That a child - especially a grown child - takes a mother at her own estimate of herself. And if the mother is fine and good, that child knows he or she has a rich heritage. That Life is like a huge department store; you find what you are looking for; and if you want the best, you must be willing to pay the price. ***

Now I must close - to catch the Friday evening mail. That is one of my New Year resolutions; to be prompt - and in this case, a little ahead of schedule. In the New Year, may we live, as Longfellow says, "that each tomorrow find us farther than today.

Sincerely Yours,
Florence B. Taylor

Next -1/15/40 - "GIVEFULNESS"