Bedtime Stories: June 2022

  • June 21, 2022

What are book lovers reading before lights-out? We asked one of them, and here’s what she said.

Bedtime Stories: June 2022

Amy Argetsinger:

Writing a book meant that I really had no time to read other people’s books for more than a year, so the bedside pile is more like a backlog. And while nighttime pleasure reading always meant fiction for me — as a journalist, I’m up to my elbows in true stories during the day — it suddenly occurred to me after writing a nonfiction book that it was time to read more nonfiction in book form.

So, I recently went in hard, diving into Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello and thrilling to each of its 800-some pages. It won every major prize back in 2008 and hardly needs my sales pitch, but I cannot say enough good things about this book, which methodically settled a 200-year-old debate while capturing in visceral, layered detail what it was like to live in a society structured around slavery. I even devoured the footnotes.

Now I’m tackling two very different books, both by Washington Post colleagues, that oddly remind me of my own. In The Show That Never Ends, David Weigel charts the ups and downs of prog rock — a pop-culture niche as quirky and overlooked as the pageant world — and I’m looking forward to seeing how Karen Tumulty tracks the journey of another complicated woman through midcentury show business and politics in The Triumph of Nancy Reagan.

But I’m still drawn back to novels. I fell in love with Joan Didion’s essays years ago yet somehow never read her fiction, so I convinced my book club to take up Play It as It Lays this month. And a couple years ago, I gave my parents The World of Tomorrow basically so that they could namedrop — the debut novelist, Brendan Mathews, is married to my college roommate — but they went absolutely bonkers for this epic saga about fugitive Irish brothers caught up in the excitement of the 1939 New York World’s Fair and started giving it as a gift to everyone they know. But while I’m already a huge fan of Brendan’s short stories, I haven’t actually read the book myself! So here it is on the nightstand, looking like a rich target for summer.

Amy Argetsinger is a longtime staff writer for the Washington Post who is currently an editor for the Style section, overseeing coverage of the media industry. Her first book, There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America, was published last September by Simon & Schuster.

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