Bedtime Stories: March 2018

  • March 23, 2018

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: March 2018

Mary Alice Garber:

On occasion, my living room resembles an auxiliary suite for the Children and Teens Department of Politics and Prose Bookstore. Towering stacks hold galleys of books to read for upcoming purchase from publishers and copies set aside for a closer, second read.

I read all the time, and most often, after the newspapers, the New Yorker, the Nation, and reading for work, my personal reading is at the end of a long queue. I find these days that my best reading is done early in the day, so what is by the bed is increasingly that which allows me to dip in and out of a book.

At the top of the pile is Robert MacFarlane’s Landmarks. The Lost Words, his children’s book illustrated by Jackie Morris and declared one of Britain’s most beautiful books for 2017, was my introduction to MacFarlane. I am a devotee of his daily offering on Twitter of lost and obscure words. MacFarlane declares in the first chapter of Landmarks that he is a “word hoard.” As an unabashed anglophile, this celebration of the British Isles’ countryside and language is more than a perfect cup of tea for me.

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin was a Christmas gift. The late Le Guin set my standard for science fiction, storytelling, and, in her later years, emphasizing what is important in our lives. This collection of blogs is a perfect way to enter into quiet as well as challenging conversations.

Two graphic novels for young adults require close inspection. They are also perfect introductions of this format for adults. Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, with artwork by Emily Carrol, is a phenomenal way to revisit Anderson’s Speak from nearly 20 years ago. This revolutionary book addresses date rape. The graphic novel highlights how art aided this young woman’s recovery.

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World is Pénélope Bagieu’s visual feast with broad-stroke tributes to well- and lesser-known women who raised their voices at pivotal moments in history. Truly amazing; it will require multiple visits.

Jesmyn Ward’s writing never fails to captivate me with its honesty. Sing, Unburied, Sing requires more than a fleeting dip at the end of a long day. I will make time for this novel.

Letters have long been my portal into a deeper understanding of individuals’ lives. Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times, edited by Carolina de Robertis, and Selected Letters of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel with Christa Fratantoro, are timely and necessary companions. Each addresses shifts in society, echoing change as well as how history repeats itself. These two volumes accentuate the necessity and value of authors and artists to raise their voices for us.

I received a beautiful galley — with French flaps and deckled pages — of Tin Man, due out May 15, 2018. This third novel from Sarah Winman was shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Award. I love quiet novels that explore human relationships and the power of memories. There is also the promise of a good cry.

Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making a Home by Danielle Postel-Vinay seems the perfect antidote to all those stacks of galleys in my living room. I hope that more knowledge of French homes full of beauty, calm, purpose, and order will inspire.

A few weeks ago, while listening to “Studio 360,” I heard John McWhorter claim that Strunk and White’s classic is out of style. Always the rebel and a devotee of this manual, I brought out The Elements of Style (illustrated by Maira Kalman). I still remember when the illustrated edition arrived at the store and the outpouring of love and excitement it received. It will continue to be a companion as I search for the best use of words and how to savor them.

Mary Alice Garber is chief buyer for the Children and Teens Department at Politics and Prose. Always an advocate for books and a former special-education teacher and administrator, she has worked at the bookstore for 19 years as community liaison, bookseller, and assistant buyer before assuming her current role.

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