Bedtime Stories: Dec. 2019

  • December 17, 2019

What do book lovers have queued up on their nightstands and ready to read before lights-out? We asked one of them, and here’s what she said.

Bedtime Stories: Dec. 2019

Sophie Littlefield/Sofia Grant:

When I teach genre-fiction writing, I like to ask my students what book they recently loved. In that environment, there seems to be little pressure to try to impress each other with the weighty substance or intellectual density of our TBR piles, and I’ve often followed these recommendations to a great read.          

But when I’m asked that same question, I always feel the tug of insecurity and am tempted to pad my list with fancy reads so everyone will think I’m smart. Not this time! On the brink of a new year, and in the spirit of my resolute desire to be more honest, here are the last few books that have come into my orbit:          

Two comfort reads, by two of my favorite authors: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins and The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand. These two authors write emotion brilliantly.          

My own novella, Survivors, from a zombie apocalypse trilogy I wrote a number of years ago. I rarely re-read my own work, but I wanted to see if I had actually been any good at horror because I’ve been idly thinking of taking a stab (ha!) at it again. And it was good — much better than I remembered, which I think is often the case for authors.          

Diksha Basu’s The Windfall, which was recommended to me by one of the staff at my local bookstore, and which I adored for its clumsy, deeply flawed, and yet ultimately tender characters.          

Femininity in Flight by Kathleen M. Barry, a social and political history of flight attendants, for a project I’m considering starting. I’ve stumbled into this subject at the same time I’ve reached an age where my daughter’s generation’s feminism is settling into the shape to which it will probably hew in the future, and the gender/sexual battles which I and my peers lived through have receded and are now viewed through a lens that can seem sepia-tinted and somewhat dismissive (while at the same time feeling distressingly, urgently persistent).

This study of stewardesses/flight attendants, long the subject of snide humor, neatly encapsulates nearly a century of feminism in a way that feels important — and there’s a deliciously Handmaid’s-Tale-esque narrative in the training and grooming of early hires. Someone should make a TV series! Oh, wait — they did. “Pan Am” wasn’t bad, but I’m thirsting for a different treatment, one that leans hard into the dark side (à la “Call the Midwife,” which — had you asked me what TV I loved lately — would be at the top of my list). I mention this because I’m realizing that there is no historical fiction on this list, and that is what I write, after all!          

Oops — got a little distracted there! On to my upcoming reads:

You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz and Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. The former was recommended by one of my very best friends — we have a little book club of two and have been focused on thrillers for the past year — and the latter by a young agent at my agent’s agency. (I did try to re-word that last phrase — honest — but that was the best I could do!) I plan to spend Christmas afternoon with these and a healthy dose of “Gentleman Jack.”

Cheers to all!

Called a “writing machine” by the New York Times and a “master storyteller” by the Midwest Book Review, Sophie Littlefield has written dozens of novels for adults and teens under her own name and the pen name Sofia Grant. She has won Anthony and RT Book awards and been shortlisted for Edgar, Barry, Crimespree, Macavity, and Goodreads Choice awards.

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