After last week’s literary tricks and treats, we thought it was time for more substantive fare. Where better to find it than from a book publicist and blogger whose site is called “Read Heavily?” Sean tweets and does the book of the face thing and email . . . the man’s totally wired and accessible. Plus he’s an eclectic reader—the very best kind.
I don’t keep books I’ve read anymore. I figure, who am I to hold them prisoner on my shelves? So I give everything away. But that doesn’t keep me from reading heavily. I go to the Salvation Army every few weeks to dig up serendipitous treasures. They only cost 10 to 25 cents a pop, so I can afford to indulge my habit of reading 100 books each year.
I keep two stacks of five books each on my nightstand, depending on my personal whim and fancy, so I have a visual idea of what I want to read next.
Here are books by my bedside (in alphabetical order):
● The Bookmaker’s Daughter by Shirley Abbott — I enjoy memoirs that have little to do with recovery, but everything to do with redemption.
● A Fanatic Heart by Edna O’Brien — I relate to O’Brien because she’s Irish and had no formal literary education, just like me. She writes for nourishment, not escape. That alone puts her in my pantheon.
● The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman — The only new book in the bunch, I got this one at Book Soup during the reading for We Wanted To Be Writers. Going to read it with my daughter. She’s in 5th grade and, for the second year in a row, leads her school in reading.
● Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia Márquez — We had a saying in college, “Hedonism, debauchery, and live to tell the tale.” How could I not read Marquez’s plagiarism of our sentiment?
● Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides — I lean more classic than contemporary, but Eugenides’ name keeps popping up. So what the heck?
● Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katherine S. White — Curated by E.B. White, this is an out of print collection of 14 essays by his wife.
● A Nation of Salesmen by Earl Shorris — Neat cultural study of American commerce and consumption just before the birth of the internet. I believe more authors could use a background in sales and marketing, especially these days.
● Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free by F.F. Bruce — Lent to me by a co-worker after I blurted out at a dinner party that I wanted to retrace Paul’s second missionary journey. It got so quiet you could hear the bread being passed.
● A Raisin in the Sun: The Unfilmed Original Screenplay by Lorraine Hansberry, edited by Robert Nemiroff — I’m smitten by differences between stories and screenplays as revealed on the page. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one example I blogged about. It doesn’t hurt that I also recently read Sidney Poitier’s memoir, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography.
● A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean — This is the only book by my bedside that I’ve already read. I leave it there so that, like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I never forget that I don’t yet understand the last line “I am haunted by waters.”
● Shadows on the Hudson by Isaac Bashevis Singer — I used to carry a Singer quote in my wallet, “For those who are willing to make an effort, great miracles and wonderful treasures are in store.” It’s part of the reason I always say, “Do great things.”