Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark

“After I retired (almost entirely) in 2000, I was a little concerned about what I would do. I was visiting a good friend, Sheri Youngblood, in Austin and one night we were discussing what a retiree should be doing in her spare time. Sheri suggested I find some books to read. Up until then, about the only thing I had read were news stories by reporters and information that I needed to know.

Sheri gave me a book she had enjoyed that was written by Mary Higgins Clark. I don’t remember the title of that book, but it started me on a path to read everything Clark had written. One such book I picked off my shelf is “Just Take My Heart.” At my age I don’t remember everything I read, but I have enjoyed everything she has written; one of my bookcase shelves is filled entirely with Mary Higgins Clark. I wish she would write more by herself now because those she co-writes with another author just aren’t as good.

Sheri passed away several years ago and I miss her terribly, but every time I see a Mary Higgins Clark book on a shelf I think of her. I have even bought several twice, not remembering that I already have one until I started reading it again.”

Katy’s Baby: The Story of Denison, Texas by Jack Maguire

Theater Row: Movie Palaces of Denison, Texas by Billy Holcomb

“I like a book that I can relax with and forget everything that is going on around me. Many readers like to be educated, and that’s okay, but I want reading to be a special time. With my interest in local and area history, I had a hard time deciding on two other books that influenced my life, so my second selection will actually be about two books that influenced me: “Katy’s Baby: The Story of Denison, Texas” (1991) by former Denisonian, Jack Maguire and “Theater Row: Movie Palaces of Denison, Texas” (1999) by another Denisonian, Billy Holcomb.

Both authors became good friends of mine throughout the years and their books have influenced my writing about Denison. History has become my “thing” and these two books have become like my “Bibles.” Maybe what I need to know may be short, but many times one of these books have answered questions that make my columns most interesting.”

My Eight Presidents by Sarah McClendon

“Another book that has made an impression on me is “My Eight Presidents” by Sarah McClendon, a Texan who worked in Washington, D.C. Sarah was a fellow member of Texas Press Women and we became casual friends through that connection.

When I started writing this I pulled her book from my shelf and realized that she wrote a long piece instead of just signing her name in the front of the book. Sarah always stayed a few steps ahead of what she was doing and got distracted and forgot to sign the piece. I do have a couple of notes that she wrote me saved in the book.

One that I have cherished was back in 1975 when Press Women published a cookbook and Sarah wrote to say that she hoped the cookbook was a flop. As a P.S. written some time later, she chastised the members for what she said was not sending in their recipes. “They probably had something more important to do. Besides, probably many of them are so busy trying to stay working they do not have time to do much housekeeping.” The cookbook turned out to be a success that sold out in just a few days.

Anyone who worked for eight presidents and wrote to tell about it made an impression on my life, and Sarah certainly did.

This goes a little more than three books, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include “Two School on Main Street: The Pride of Denison, Texas - 1873-2007” that Mavis Anne Bryant and I wrote after 2007, when the school on Main Street in Denison was demolished. Writing that book and putting it together probably made the biggest impression on my life because I learned a lot of information in my research — and a lot of “stick-to-it” to get the book finished.

There are many books out there on many subjects that make lasting impressions on readers. These are just a few of my favorites.”

Donna Hunt was the first female editor of The Denison Herald in Denison before serving as manager of the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historical Park. She is an acclaimed writer with awards from Press Women of Texas, the National Federation of Press Women, the Associated Press and others. She writes an area history column for the Herald Democrat.