Bedtime Stories: October 2014

  • October 6, 2014

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

Bedtime Stories: October 2014

James Magruder:


On my bedside shelf, moving from bottom to top:

  • D.A. Powell’s prize-winning poetry collection, Useless Landscape — a Guide for Boys. I love his work.

  • Atop the Powell are the two last issues of New England Review, perhaps my favorite literary journal, because Editor Carolyn Kuebler publishes translations, plays, and fascinating oddments.

  • I did a reading with Clifford Chase in June, and his memoir The Tooth Fairy: Parents, Lovers, and Other Wayward Deities was so hilarious and deadpan devastating that I sought out Winkie, his earlier novel about a stuffed bear who is accused of being a double agent.

  • At the very top of the pile are two historical novels, Sujata Massey’s The Sleeping Dictionary and Charles Belfoure’s The Paris Architect. Both are hugely entertaining, sensual, rich, and move like the wind. Dictionary reads as if Charles Dickens had gone to India in 1930, and Belfoure — in his first novel — writes from a dizzying array of perspectives.

At the very top of the pile is a picture of my first cat, Hector, as a kitten, so young his eyes are still blue.


James Magruder is a fiction writer, playwright, and award-winning translator. His fiction has appeared in New England Review, the Gettysburg Review, Subtropics, the Normal School, Bloom, New Stories from the Midwest, and elsewhere. His debut novel, Sugarless, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. His story collection, Let Me See It, has just been published by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press. He lives in Baltimore.



Carolyn Parkhurst:


  • The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert. Schaffert is an excellent chronicler of history’s quirky corners and twists, and this latest novel is an expansive story of romance and paranormal intrigue, set against the backdrop of the 1898 Omaha World’s Fair. I can’t wait to be transported to a world of high-wire acts and fortune-tellers, hot-air balloons and snake oil. Take a look at the vintage photographs, news stories, and ads on the book’s Tumblr and tell me you don’t want to see what kind of story he puts together.

  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I’ve been a fan of Sarah Waters since I read her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, a raucous, picaresque journey through the seedier side of Victorian England, and her World War II novel, The Night Watch, sealed my devotion. This new novel takes place in 1922 London and concerns a widow and her daughter who are forced to take in lodgers. But the details are almost irrelevant; Waters is an author I’d follow anywhere.

  • Gulp by Mary Roach. Roach’s fascinating and riotous forays into surprising niches of popular science are always great reads. Now, having tackled corpses, sex, the paranormal, and outer space, she turns her attention to food, eating, and digestion. I’m particularly looking forward to the chapter about the pet-food taste-test lab.

  • Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (author) and Francesco Francavilla (illustrator). I used to love Archie comics as a kid, as predictable and inane as they were, but I hadn’t given them much thought in recent years. It was clear that they were trying to revitalize the franchise (a gay character! Competing issues in which Archie marries Betty or Veronica!), but it still sounded pretty tame. And then…wait a minute, Archie dies? And Jughead turns into a zombie? The undead are taking over Riverdale? Yeah, okay. You got me. This I want to see.

Carolyn Parkhurst is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Dogs of Babel, Lost and Found, and The Nobodies Album, as well as the children’s book Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and two children.



Courtney Smith:


I don’t have a ton of time to read, but these two titles stood out to me, and I’m reading them now:

  • Storm from the East by Milton Viorst. I bought this maybe four years ago, but lent it to a friend and so never read it. Being super-interested in politics, I really want to understand the history of the Middle East, and how it’s prefaced the current state of foreign affairs. The author has extensive experience as a Middle East journalist and provides the history — starting in the late 600s — to try and explain the disparity in religious views that spurs political tension. I am still in the beginning/history part, but love it so far. Really pertinent to what is going on today.

  • Because I Said So by Camille Peri and Kate Moses. This book of essays was given to me by a mom friend. (What mom wouldn’t love that title?) I have only finished the intro, but I have to say it’s great. The story of two smart moms trying to balance writing a book about motherhood that is honest (gasp!), while trying to be…well, competent moms and wives! I could identify (not the wife part, LOL, but the mom part).


Courtney Smith is the founder of BASHelorette, a website dedicated to making planning bachelorette parties, girlfriend getaways, and girls’ nights out easier and more fun. She is also owner of CS Creative Suite, a marketing company specializing in hospitality marketing for bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and spas. You can find her on Google+ and Twitter. Over the past decade, Courtney has planned countless bachelorette parties, attended as many concerts as possible, and ingested copious amounts of coffee.


comments powered by Disqus