Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I just got excited lining up my summer reading. As I stood there thinking about each book, I realized I had a direct connection to each one.

Let’s start with The First Tycoon, by T. J. Stiles. This is a grand book about Corneilius “Commodore” Vanderbilt. Amazon describes it as A gripping, groundbreaking biography of the combative man whose genius and force of will created modern capitalism.

Founder of a dynasty, builder of the original Grand Central, creator of an impossibly vast fortune, Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt is an American icon. In The First Tycoon, Stiles offers the first complete, authoritative biography of this titan, and the first comprehensive account of the Commodore’s personal life. It is a sweeping, fast-moving epic, and a complex portrait of the great man.

My amusing connection is mentioned on page 570. I often visit the Commodore’s grandson’s house, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, in Newport Rhode Island. You can too. It’s called the Breakers. And it’s the mightiest of all mansions. Last weekend, I simply stood on the grounds and was moved.

Second summer reading book is Listening to Van Morrison by the insightful Greil Marcus, one of America’s most dedicated cultural critics. Singer/songwriter Elvis Costello states, "For a Protestant from East Belfast, Van Morrison has a lot of the Holy Ghost in him.” That is one of the reasons I adore Van. I can not gush enough over how much I love his music, but, I will try. I like to say, “If the molecules inside of me were to jump out of my body and form a sheet of music, it would be a Van Morrison song.”

Aside from the title being one of my greatest pleasures: Listening to Van Morrison, I have met Van the man on several occasions, and even had lunch with him in a roped off area of a restaurant. You will have to put my books (when they are published) on your summer reading list to find out more about this fan and Van!

Last, but certainly not least on my summer list is actually a re-read. The Italian Summer is a book by one of my favorite authors, and my friend Roland Merullo. All of Roland’s books are meaningful to me. This prolific author writes with heart, and great wit (plus I love the inscriptions he pens to me). I highly recommend any of his twelve books (including Breakfast with Buddha and Revere in Those Days). The Italian Summer (a true story) finds him in Italy, golfing, eating, and trying to enjoy life with his family. Who wouldn’t want more of that?

For more info on Roland Merullo go to

Do you have an interesting connection to your favorite book, or author? A favorite Roland Merullo book? This inquiring mind wants to know…. type in a few words below...

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