Bedtime Stories

Who's reading what before lights-out?

Bedtime Stories

What do literary types have queued up on their nightstands and ready to read before bed? We asked a few of them, and here’s what they said.

Cathy Alter:

The Wonder Bread Summer by Jessica Anya Blau (Harper Perennial). No one captures 1980s girlhood better than Blau. The premise of her latest book reads like “Pulp Fiction” meets Alice in Wonderland—with Billy Idol starring as a pivotal character. With a rebel yell, I cried, “more, more, more” when I turned the last page.

Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno (Simon & Schuster). An oral biography of the elusive writer that’s bigger than a phone book and co-authored by Shields, my literary god and the reason why I’ll read every single word of it.

Integrative Wellness Rules: A Simple Guide to Healthy Living by Dr. Jim Nicolai (Hay House). A friend who owns a luxury skincare company gave this book to me. Her skin is so dewy and flawless, I’m prepared to rub each page on my face if that’s what it takes to achieve perfection.

Cathy Alter is a Washington, DC-based writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Washingtonian, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Huffington Post, and McSweeney’s. She is the author of Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me about Love, Sex, and Starting Over” target=“_blank”>Up for Renewal. She received a B.A. from Colgate University and an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, where she is a faculty member and a nonfiction advisor.

Michael McCarthy:

Fly-Fishing With Darth Vader…and Other Adventures With Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys by Matt LaBash (Simon & Schuster). Don’t let the playful title fool you. This is one of the best collections of nonfiction you’ll read this year. LaBash is masterful at conveying America’s current state of grace, despair, lunacy, beauty, and resiliency—and that’s only the first half of the book.

The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck (Viking). I usually offered mild hosannas to the Steinbeck classics; the vernacular got in my way. But this little gem, set in a lonely California bus depot, is different. It’s Steinbeck as wry storyteller and literary provocateur.

My iPad. is my last “read” of the day, as it provides some of the best short storytelling on the planet right now.

Michael McCarthy is editor-in-chief of DC Modern Luxury magazine.

Marlene England:

Piled atop publishers’ catalogs and Indie Next lists on my nightstand are:

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Random House). I should’ve read this last year, but didn’t, and now I’m in a hurry to finish since it’s the featured title in our bookstore’s very first book club.

The Retail Revival by Doug Stephens (Wiley). I’ve finished this, but I keep going back to it for new insights. I’m an evangelist for this book—I keep telling every retailer I know to read it and read it now. In my opinion, it should be required reading for retailers large and small.

The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester (Fair Winds Press). This is filled with great recipes that I will one day—maybe in January?—find the time to prepare. Until then, I’m enjoying the pictures.

Marlene England owns the Curious Iguana, a global-themed indie bookstore in Frederick, MD.


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