- The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III. W. W. Norton and Co., 2008. For my Andre Dubus father-and-son reading unit. This novel inquires sympathetically and attentively into a sordid north Florida social ecosystem, perhaps even surpassing Dubus III’s superb House of Sand and Fog in purity of prose and emotional accuracy and, like that book, including a glimpse into Middle Eastern characters and culture. This page-turner of downward spins won’t let you turn out the light and go to sleep.
- My morning ritual: The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977. Through this year I will follow the daily entries in this reproduced nature journal and look at the animated watercolors of the plants and animals that professional illustrator Holden observed and recorded for her own pleasure in 1906.
- My Muni book: Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges. Nation Books, 2010. An unrelentingly depressing study of the co-optation of the American liberal (safety valve) class by the ruthless, violent, and anti-democratic capitalist elite (WWI to present).
- Lunchtime book: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2003. Stirred by Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, I brought this tome to the staff breakroom to get to know Paine’s cohort, our Philadelphia Renaissance man of the people, a few pages at a time.
- Quick research book: Eyewitness Books: Insect by Lawrence Mound. DK Publishing, 2004. Another book I grabbed to look up a few facts, but I just might read it through. Pictures in this series are clear and inviting and the information is intriguing. I love children’s books for quick, clear, enjoyable overviews of subjects.
- Evening reading: Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov. Having written the first draft of a personal essay, I’m re-re-re-reading this highest exemplar of a memoir, hoping a quadrillionth of the master’s way with words and metaphors will rub off on my revision.
- Bedtime book: The Betsy-Tacy Treasury by Maud Hart Lovelace. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2011. A librarian colleague once recommended the Betsy and Tacy children’s classics to engage a girl I was tutoring in English. As a grown-up, I’m finding this book enchanting with just-right levels of imaginative suggestion and practical detail.