Journalist and author William Souder lives and writes in Grant, Minnesota, which is far enough into the country that he gets to watch his neighbor cutting hay three or four times a summer, and where he can see five barns from his office window but still make out the Minneapolis skyline looking like Oz in the distance, and where it gets so dark at night that you can sometimes see the coyotes by starlight. His most recent book, Under a Wild Sky, was about the bird artist John James Audubon and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His new book is On a Farther Shore, a biography of Rachel Carson that will be published by Crown in September on the 50th anniversary of Carson’s Silent Spring.
The book on the nightstand I’m engrossed in right now is Robert Massie’s thoroughly readable Catherine the Great, which is as intricate and seductive as a Russian novel. Atop the just-completed pile is Hedy’s Folly, by Richard Rhodes. On deck is Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, because it’s about time I got to it and also because I love the way he bashes e-books and social media. I guess you could say I’ve got a bad attitude about certain things, which is, of course, essential for a writer.
Here are some other titles by the bed—on what is actually not a nightstand per se, but rather a fairly good-sized book shelf:
A Struggle for Power by Theodore Draper. The American Revolution well-told.
The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. Evolution is the true sweet science.
The Double Helix by James Watson. I’m always thinking about biology and might write something one day.
The Molecular Biology of the Cell by Bruce Alberts, et al. Like I said…
Arguably by Christopher Hitchens. There’ll never be another C.H.
The Outermost House by Henry Beston. Because it’s Walden for me, an American classic that far too few people have read.