Macaulay, David. Castle. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977.

Reason read: so in the month of June Kisa took me to a castle in Colorado. I’ll never forget Castle Marne because it is where we got engaged. Read Castle on honor of that memory.

Despite the fact the castle and surround community are imaginary, the construction of the castle itself, in 1286 Wales, is a realistic blueprint. A lot of detail went into explaining the process, complete with a layout of all the tools for a carpenter’s trade as well as the weapons of war. And speaking of war, I have to admit I had to look up the difference between a siege and an attack. I had heard them used interchangeably on the news. Thank you, Mr. Macaulay. All of the illustrations are spectacular. As an aside, I loved the little culprit sitting in the dungeon. Equally amusing was how they disposed of human waste. Yes, I have that kind of humor sometimes. I heard that Castle was also made into a documentary.

Author fact: Macaulay also wrote about the construction of cathedrals (which I already read), mills, pyramids, and mosques. I am reading about them all for the Challenge.

Book trivia: the dedication is to the past – farewell!

Nancy said: Pearl said all of Macaulay’s books are wonderful but Castle is her favorite.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Building Blocks” (p 38).


Macaulay, David. Cathedral. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

Reason read: I just finished a walking tour on iFit. The trainer took me around Croatia and explained the architecture. It got me interested in learning more about the structure of cathedrals.

Originally published in black and white, Macaulay thought color might bring Cathedral to a new height. He was right. The story of how a cathedral is built is clear and concise. Even though the Chutreaux cathedral in Macaulay’s story is fictional, the meticulously detailed diagrams used to build the medieval structure, are not. This book will make you look at these impossibly beautiful buildings in a completely new way. Yes, everyone knows cathedrals were built as houses of the lord, to praise and thank a certain god, but the messages hidden in the architecture are wonderful. For example, every window tells a different specific story. What is most amazing is how long it took to build Macaulay’s fictional cathedral. It is easy to forget what a massive undertaking construction was during the thirteenth century. The roof alone wasn’t finished for nine years and in that time the original master builder and Bishop Chutreaux both die and are replaced approximately at the same time. They never see the fruits of their labor.

As an aside, I loved the illustrations. The cat on page 44 is great.

Author fact: Macaulay drew the illustrations for Cathedral.

Book trivia: Cathedral was written for children but is great for adults as well. I read somewhere that Cathedral was also made into a movie? I need to look that up!

Nancy said: Pearl calls Macaulay’s books “wonderful,” “useful,” “entertaining,” and goes on to say Macaulay is “particularly good at explaining various technical terms” (More Book Lust p 38).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Building Blocks” (p 38).

Great Fortune

Okrent, Daniel. Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center. New York: Viking, 2003.

There is something to be said about a man with a vision, especially when that vision becomes the great and unparalleled Rockefeller Center in New York City. Great Fortune captures not only the man behind the vision and the epic journey of John D. Rockefeller and his team, but the society and political arena of their era. The 1930s are the beginning of urban sprawl going vertical in the form of skyscrapers. As the buildings start reaching higher and higher they become more grandiose and complicated; as do the people responsible for this growth at such an unlikely time in history. The founders of Rockefeller Center are egotistic, artistic, ambitious visionaries. Despite being mired in the Great Depression luminaries such as architect Raymond Hood believe in the grandeur of the project with unwavering faith.

The first thing I noticed about the copy of Great Fortune that came to the library was the cover. If you aren’t looking closely you would miss it. The cover with the ISBN of 0670031690 has a collage of four photos, all in tinted black and white. A photograph of a couple dancing. Below that, a picture of the Rockettes standing in a circle. Below that, iron workers presumably working on the construction of RCA building. Along side these three photos is a larger one of the RCA building. In my copy of Great Fortune the dancing couple featured in the upper left hand corner are Mary Rae and Naldi doing a waltz in the Rainbow room…except something is different about them. They do not hold the same pose. Mary Rae and Naldi are nose to nose in my cover shot. I’m not even sure they are the same dancers. Why was this one photo swapped out for another? Curious. For an illustration of what I mean click here. Take note of the photo of the two dancers. Look at their gentle pose. Then click on the cover and see how the photo changes. The dancers become more dynamic, more passionate.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Building Blocks” (p 38).

April ’11 is…

April marks the start of new ideas, new ways of thinking. Actually, the ideas sprouted in March but April is the month for seriously taking action. Idea #1 – probably the one I am the most conflicted about – A U D I O books. Yes, audio books. After nearly five years I am breaking my own rule. I must have known it would come to this because if you note, I say in this rule I will try to read the book rather than listen to audio or watch a video interpretation…It’s like I knew it would come to this. I guess I would like to think for the month of April I am breaking down and trying something new. This doesn’t come about because I didn’t try. Try, I did. Walking and reading don’t necessarily go together, especially on a treadmill. I know, ‘cuz I’ve tried. Since I can’t give up the training and I refuse to give up the reading I needed to find a compromise. I have. In the form of someone reading to me. So, without further delay, here is the list for April:

  • Flint’s Law by Paul Eddy. Finishing the series I started last month.
  • “At Marlborough House” by Michael Swift ~ in honor of April being poetry month I plan to read a poem in between each book.
  • Bear Went Over the Mountain by William Kotzwinkle ~ in honor of April Fools Day
  • “Two Tramps in Mud Time” by Robert Frost ~ in honor of poetry month.
  • A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill ~ in honor of April being Alcohol Awareness month. This is the book I will try to listen to instead of read…
  • “The Discovery of Daily Experience” by William Stafford ~ in honor of poetry month
  • Great Fortune: the Epic of Rockefeller Center by Daniel Okrent ~ in honor of National Architect month. What better way to celebrate architecture than with a book about one of the best known structures out there?
  • “Blue Garden” by Dean Young ~ in honor of poetry month
  • Alice Springs by Nikki Gemmell ~ in honor of April being the best time to visit Australia

For Librarything and the Early Review program I have The Good Daughter: a Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life by Jasmin Darznik. It (finally) came in the middle of last month.