The Avid Reader
Like her parents, Carolyn and the late Dr. Robert Lott, who returned to West Point in 1968 when she was 3, Martha Caskey moved back to her hometown in 1991 after years spent away in school and the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, workforce. “Everything kind of fell into place for me to move back. I got a job offer to work for a home health agency in Columbus and took advantage of that. Many of my friends have also returned to live here, so it has been a good thing.”
Also like her parents, Martha has been an avid reader for as far back as she can remember. Books were readily available at home, and her mother read to young Martha and her siblings almost every night. Her mother and father were always reading and swapping books, a habit Martha and her mother have continued.
Martha’s time in West Point schools and at Millsaps reinforced her love of reading. In elementary school, she remembers being read to by a particular teacher, Mrs. Bounds. “I was introduced to all of the Beverly Cleary books through her. High school English teachers Nita Keys Wyman and Lucille Armstrong also influenced my reading habits.”
Martha is drawn to Southern literature and authors with a certain sense of humor, but enjoys a wide variety of genres — from all of James Herriott’s books to the work of Stephen King. When it comes to choosing her next book, Martha explores all avenues including recommendations from friends and family, book reviews and bestsellers lists. “I recently read My Antonia by Willa Cather because my son was reading it for a high school assignment, and my mother had recommended it. I am currently reading Carry on, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton, a birthday gift from my friend, Lona Rosetti. So, I find books any way I can.”
For Martha reading is an escape and a source of comfort. “Reading is familiar and comfortable and if the book is good, it will transport me to a different place. I recommend these books simply because they are books to which I always return:
1. Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living and Sleeping at the Starlight Motel: And Other Adventures on the Way Back Home by Bailey White — I have to include both. Each is a compilation of short stories/essays that are funny and poignant. I love the way she writes. The stories are very short, but I just love them.
2. One Mississippi by Mark Childress — He has a way of writing that draws me in to the story and really puts me there. I enjoy his descriptions of the time period. The story is sad and funny and serious all at the same time. Childress usually has several themes running through his books, and that is part of what makes this story interesting.
3. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan — I thought this book was fascinating and really an education about a culture different than my own. Tan is such a fluid writer. I have enjoyed all of her books.
4. Evergreen by Belva Plain — This is a story about a Jewish immigrant that follows her and her family along throughout history, spanning about three generations. A good book for an escape.
5. The Quiet Game by Greg Iles — Iles is a favorite author of mine. I like to read pretty much anything he writes.”