Bedtime Stories: Sept. 2023

  • September 14, 2023

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

Bedtime Stories: Sept. 2023

Mary Louise Kelly:

I do a lot of author interviews as host of “All Things Considered,” and it’s one of the things I love about the gig. How crazy fun is it to have a job that allows you to call, say, Stephen King, when he pops out a new thriller, to pepper him with questions about pacing and plot twists?

The only downside of this arrangement is the sheer number of books I need to read in any given month. I read in every spare moment, on planes, on trains, on the sidelines of my son’s soccer games, and still…the pile atop my nightstand runneth over.

This means my current bedtime reading includes Zadie Smith’s latest, The Fraud. It’s a wickedly funny novel based on a real-life 19th-century trial. At the heart is a man who is so obviously, unrepentantly lying that you wonder how on earth the case wasn’t dismissed before it ever came before a judge. I’m a couple hundred pages in and trying to figure out how Smith will sew all the plot threads together.

We also feature nonfiction on “All Things Considered,” and my next book on this front is Melissa Etheridge’s memoir, Talking to My Angels. Reading it at bedtime has the added benefit of getting her songs stuck in my head as I fall asleep; you can’t help starting to hum along as she describes songwriting and performing. I found myself belting out “Bring Me Some Water” in the shower the other morning, thus bringing me full circle to my shower habits as a teenager back in 1989.

I do like to keep a light, beach-ready novel going on the side of whatever else I’m reading, and right now it’s Queen-of-Beach-Reads Elin Hilderbrand’s Beautiful Day. It was published back in 2013, and the copy currently beside my bed is a salty, sandy, dog-eared paperback that I filched from the lobby of a bed-and-breakfast where I stayed this summer.

Lest you think I only read female authors, I’ll add that the next bedtime read I plan to devour is Mr. Texas by my friend and fellow journalist Lawrence Wright. He won the Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower, the definitive history of the origins of al-Qaeda. How you pivot from that to a hilarious, fictional send-up of Texas politics is beyond me, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Larry.

Mary Louise Kelly is host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” and the author, most recently, of It. Goes. So. Fast.: The Year of No Do-Overs.

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