In defense of Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton. It’s a pretty common opinion that she’s just too much–her clothes a little too gaudy, her hair a little too big, her voice a little too twangy and her physique a little too busty.

On the outside she may look like a ditzy, narcissistic starlet, but her past and present reveal that she is much more than that.

Hers is the quintessential American rags-to-riches story. One of 12 children, her family lived a small cabin in Tennessee, in a rural region of the Great Smokey Mountains which was and still is impoverished. Many of her family members and relatives were illiterate.

Dolly Parton at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Dolly Parton at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With an estimated $450 million net worth, Parton launched her Imagination Library in 1996. Children enrolled in the foundation receive one book per month from birth until they enter kindergarten to foster early literacy skills and a love of reading in pre-schoolers.

The program began in Parton’s home county and has since spread all over the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Instead of simply throwing money at issues such as illiteracy, she took the challenges she faced in her own humble beginnings and created a solution to help others in that situation.

And unlike most other celebrities, her positive, down-to-earth attitude is actually worth imitating. She radiates joy wherever she goes and has impressive energy on stage even at the age of 67.

Her music is a breath of fresh air. She doesn’t write about sex, violence or anything super depressing (with the exception of a couple notable tearjerkers).

Her honest journey from her humble beginnings has motivated her to give back to her fans in her own perky, glitzy way.

Adventures in summer reading

By the beginning of each May I’ve usually rigged up a long list of novels and short stories I’d been dreaming about for months, and most of the time I finish all if not the vast majority of them.

For some reason, It’s been a slow process making my list for this year, and there’s a giant hole at the end of it.

Since I’ll be working full time starting in June, this will be the first summer when I will not have enough time to read everything I want, so I’ve placed a bit of pressure on myself to make the time I do have worth it.

Here’s my list as it stands so far.

  1. My first and most important goal was to reread The Great Gatsby before the movie came out. I finished with one day to spare and plan to see the movie next week with my best friend and fellow Gatsby lover. See Thursday’s post on my expectations for the film.
  2. Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow. One of my favorite genres is mid-life crisis novels, and though I’ve hardly cracked it open yet, this one certainly holds promise to become a new favorite. Based on the reviews I’ve read, Eugene Henderson seems to be just the type of eccentric wanderer I love to get to know, and his spontaneous travels through Africa sound like a hilarious disaster and learning experience waiting to happen.

    Détail d'une photo de Gemma Galgani

    Détail d’une photo de Gemma Galgani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  3. During my busier months I like to have a book that I can poke through slowly. I ordered The Life of St. Gemma Galgani  by Ven. Fr. Germanus to be my summer devotional reading, though it will probably take me a while to get through while working.
  4. After my internship ends in August, I’m torn about what to read during my last two weeks before school starts. Their Eyes Were Watching God has been on my list for years, but I’m also considering picking up David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls because of the title alone.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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