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  • What Are You Reading Now? Show Us Your Bedside Table! (No, not that drawer)
What Are You Reading Now? Show Us Your Bedside Table! (No, not that drawer)
Written by
The Salonniere
October 2010
Written by
The Salonniere
October 2010
She Writers, what are you reading? We are introducing a new feature on She Writes (well, new-ish), an invitation to ALL She Writers to tell us what you are reading now. We have had the wonderful luck to have several of you contribute columns to our "What She's Reading Now" series (if you want to pitch us on one, check out the submission guidelines here), but we'd like to add a component to this that's a little more fast and loose: take a snapshot of the book (or books) on your bedside table, and give us a line or two about what you are reading now. In case it isn't obvious, I am a complete and total book-aholic, and am always reading something. (Just finished Tess of the D'Ubervilles last night, lest you think I only read books written by women -- far from it!) In addition, I always have a stack of books on my Ikea-nightstand, cued for launch, my version of an "on-deck" circle. I wanted to share them all with you, with a special shout-out to those written by She Writers I adore. BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women by Rebecca Traister I have been wanting to read this book ever since I got hooked on Rebecca Traister's brilliant reporting -- and political commentary -- during the 2008 election on Salon.com. If you like your critics smart, deep, and fearless, you will love it too. THE FOREST FOR THE TREES: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner If you want to know why I'm going to (re)read this, read Erin Hosier's post about this seminal book, now in a revised edition, from last week on She Writes. It pretty much says it all. GREAT HOUSE: A Novel By Nicole Krauss (who is not a member of She Writes -- somebody, please invite her!) I was intrigued by the NY Times Book Review cover story on this book, and particularly keen to read a young woman writer frequently mentioned as one of the best American fiction writers working today. (See, NYTBR does matter, which is why we have to stay ON THEIR CASE about reviewing and featuring books by women!) The History of Love is also on my list. BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING (Femme Fatales: Women Write Pulp) By Evelyn Piper I love this series from the Feminist Press (thank you Jean Casella!) "In this fraught and at times freakish tale of suspense, Evelyn Piper takes us deep into the psyche of the 1950s to explore American fetishes, fallacies, and fears around motherhood and sexuality. " Need I say more? DO IT ANYWAY: The New Generation of Activists by Courtney E. Martin I am lucky to count the inimitable Courtney Martin as a friend, but even if I didn't, I would have been drawn to this book. In these trying times, stories of activism, featuring young people with strong beliefs and the will to risk everything in the service of their mission -- feels like just the thing I need to inspire me and restore my hope. THE MUDDY CUP: A Dominican Family Comes of Age in a New America by Barbara Fischkin I love literary nonfiction and stories generated by cultural analysis and reportage, and this title and its subject spoke to me. One of my closest friends (who also happens to be the woman who cares for my children while I am at work) immigrated here from the Dominican Republic, and I am eager to read this book to deepen my understanding of her experience. SEARCHING FOR TAMSEN DONNER By Gabrielle Burton On a recent trip to California, I had the great pleasure of meeting Gabrielle Burton (who joined Hope Edelman, Carley Knobloch and me for lunch), and we agreed to do a book swap -- I sent her mine, and she sent me hers. I am really looking forward to reading it -- Gabrielle's reputation as a novelist was enough to hook me, but the Booklist description sealed the deal: "Burton was first drawn to the story of Tamsen Donner in the 1970s, just as she was becoming enmeshed in the women’s movement...The result is a thoughtful and engaging blend of history and memoir that inspires the reader to delve further into the Donner party’s fate, while at the same time enjoying Burton’s struggle to be both a full-time mother and successful writer." Mother writers -- I think this one should move up fast on your "to-read" lists. So...what are you reading now? Take a pic of your bedside table, and share a few lines about the books you are reading, or plan to read soon. If you tweet, give those authors some Twitter love with the hashtag #WSRN. And don't think you have to be reading books (almost) all written by She Writers. But I think it should be obvious (by now) that I will never miss a chance to shout a She Writer out -- or read her latest book.

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  • Patricia Harrelson

    I stick to a kind of system in my reading so that at any one time I usually am listening to an audiobook while walking or driving, reading poetry or spiritual book each morning, and on my bedside I have a book that I'm re-reading, something of literary merit, and a mystery. Those slots are currently filled like this:
    Audiobook: Some Sing, Some Cry by Ntozake Shange & Ifa Bayeza. This is a perfect book to listen to as the authors include song throughout the book. It's an epic about African American women from the Reconstruction to the present, and it's powerful.
    Poetry: Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. A book to be savored for language, imagery, and truth. It certainly doubles as spiritual reading.
    Re-Reading: The Love of Impermanent Things by Mary Rose O'Reilly, definitely my favorite writer of all time for her sensibility and exquisite craft. I'm re-reading this collection of personal essays to study and understand better how she manages to touch me so deeply.
    Literary: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, and talented author of fiction and non-fiction. Her historical works such as Year of Wonders: A Novel about the Plague. But I also thought Nine Parts of Desire, a non-fiction book about Muslim Women in the Far East was brilliant.
    Mystery: Winter Study by Nevada Barr, who is definitely high on my list of mystery writers. I tend toward female mystery writers like Kathy Reich and Patricia Cornwall. Just started this one, and I know it will soon grab a whole afternoon from my life when I get so caught in the tale that I have to finish.

  • Korani Connolly

    Reading Paullina Simon's "The Girl in Times Square" and just finished Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal Dreams" - I adore her work.

  • Barbara Fischkin

    I have also been reading Anna Karenina in small chunks for a few months. Whenever I can sneak away. I would take a picture but it's on my Kindle. Many years ago the late Tom Smith, a beloved English professor at the state university in Albany, New York, told me that as a newspaper reporter this was the one novel I had to read. I never did. But I now see why he said that. The detail encompasses politics, business and love and puts it together so seemlessly. I teaches one over and over again how to observe. The society depicted reminds me, in some ways of Facebook. Don't laugh. I think I should explore that topic a bit further.

  • Liz Kitchens

    I'm reading Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller. It's about the lives of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon- the heros of my youth.

  • Mary Lynne McLintock

    I LOVE reading what other women are reading. It makes my list of I-want-to-reads grow and grow. I just finished Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. My upstairs book is On Writing by Stephen King, my downstairs book is Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. Long-term project: 2666 by Roberto Bolano. Others in the stack on the floor by the bed: Farewell to Arms by Hemingway (embarrassingly late to the party on that one), Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, and The Three Weissmans of Westport by Cathleen Schine.

  • Kateena Hayes

    It's great to see that I'm not the only one who has several books "on deck" at any given time. I like to have something that's pure escapism, something historical, something educational, and something related to what I am currently working on.

    I did a blog post about my weekend reading list a couple of months ago. Here's what I'm working on now.

  • Dawn Nicole Martin

    It's good to know that my nightstand is not the only one covered with books and a reading lamp somewhere in the middle... I am reading Becoming A Woman of Influence by Carol Kent and The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli... There are so many books on my reading lists and other recommendations that I want to read but can become overwhelming when you're trying to write and market and publish...

  • Maureen E. Doallas

    My blog post yesterday addressed this subject. I've just finished Tom Grimes' Mentor. On my reading tables: The Bomb by Howard Zinn; Mark Doty's The Art of Description; Emma Donoghue's Room; and much poetry, including The Least of These by Todd Davis, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room by Kelli Russell Agodon, Harvesting Fog by Luci Shaw.

  • Marie Cooper

    Such erudite reading! lol Most of mine is pure escapism.

    Although at the top of my recent list is The Warmth of Other Suns, brilliantly researched and beautifully written. About the African American movement from the South to the North over the last century. Incredibly moving, it will haunt you for a long time.

    Then Birth Marks by Sarah Dunant. Published in 1992 it is terribly dated by modern technology. Red Bones by Ann Cleeves, original and clever. Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, which people have been after me to read for years. I have to say, I am not enjoying it. I love the period, I am a real Anglophile, but it is just too arch, too I-am-so-much-smarter-than-you are and SO bigoted! I don't get the passion people have about her novels.

  • Nicki Johnson

    I'm reading a well used copy of Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie left here accidentally by a Brit passing through. I swear I'll reunite him with it but first I thought I'd take a peek inside - after all books in English are hard to come by for this American expat in China.

    When I opened it I sneezed - a lot. And this book is about India, which, to be honest, doesn't hold quite the allure for me as a few other places I could name but...the more I read the more I liked and now that I'm close to the end I don't really want it to stop.

    Also, I'm reading my second ever e-book (the first was The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde) on my still somewhat newish and absolutely fantastic Android phone. Actually it's four books at once - The Ware Tetralogy by Rudy Rucker. It seems so suited to this format, reading on a shiny little electronic screen as I zip around Haikou on the bus, so futuristic. I love it. As I'm nearing the end of that as well though, I'm looking around to see what I should download next...

  • Lanita Andrews

    So I grab the stack off my nightstand (to carry outside so I can smoke while typing this), but of course I have to make 20 stops between here (the courtyard) and there (the nightstand), back-and-forth, all the while my husband is watching me (books falling out of my arms every other step) with that questioning look on his face as though he’s wondering if early-onset Alzheimer’s can begin at 31.
    Anyway, here’s my stack…
    *Sliver of Truth by Lisa Unger
    *The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr
    *Fixing Freddie by Paula Munier
    *Dead In The Family by Charlaine Harris
    *An Echo In The Bone by Diana Gabaldon (Oh my gosh, how much do I love the Outlander series!)
    *This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness by (fellow SheWriter) Laura Munson (all married woman should read this book) http://www.shewrites.com/profile/lauraaldrichmunson
    *On Writing by Steven King
    *How To Make An American Quilt by Whitney Otto
    *Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
    *Writing About Your Life by William Zinsser
    *Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
    *On Writing Well by William Zinsser
    *The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God by David J. Linden
    *Connecticut Shade by Timothy Black (Thanks to fellow SheWriter Tania Pryputniewicz for turning me on to him) http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/poet-timothy-black-male
    And that’s not counting the stack of kids books on the floor next to the nightstand. I’m almost always reading several books at once.

  • Elizabeth Young

    I am just finishing the book 'Orphans (real and imaginary) by Eileen Simpson and have enjoyed it. As Eileen takes us through the facts of her own life I found it a little wooden and devoid of emotion, but this is her experience and hence valid. As she explores 'orphans in history,' 'in literature' and 'the changing face of orphanhood' there is an unfolding of an ageless story filled with both anguish and strength.

  • Gayle Pruitt

    Just finished "Walk In My Soul" by Lucia St. Clair Robson a story of the young Sam Houston and on my night stand is "The Mexican Revolution" by Adolfo Gilly and "Tarzan Of The Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs. My son tells me to get a life.

  • Courtney E. Martin

    Beyond touched, thanks Kamy. xoxo
    On my shelf right now: Kathleen Gerson's Unfinished Business, Wes Moore's The Other Wes Moore, Don DeLillo's Falling Man, and John Paul Lederach's Moral Imagination

  • Julie Kinyoun

    If we write this as a blog post do you want us to tag it in a special way so it can be found?

  • Kamy Wicoff Brainstorming

    I love Reviving Ophelia. Though I have to say that one of the best moments of reading Tess of the D'Ubervilles, of which I was beginning to tire after about 300 pages of the sweet, innocent milkmaid ruined by Victorian hypocrisy, was that she didn't do herself in like Ophelia, but did in the cad, instead! Rad -- in the old (and complete) sense of the word. To the gallows, yes, but not by her own hand. Sad to say that was an improvement on what had come before.

  • Barbara Fischkin

    I am fifty or so pages into a debut memoir just out by Kim Stagliano. "All I Can Handle: I'm No Mother Teresa."
    Most of us aren't. The sub-sub title is the killer: "A Life Raising Three Daughters With Autism." It's bittersweet -- funny and sad at the same time. It also puts together all the blogs Kim has written _ she's a nationally recognized autism advocate - and adds details and philosophy and the glue that makes a book. Her story is also inspiring in the general sense. She is a woman who has done many things in life but always knew she could tell a story. And now she has. I am going to bed to read the rest. Not rest. Read the rest!

  • Joanna Johnson

    I'm finishing up Reviving Opheila by Mary Pipher - good read if you're worried about the world our teen girls are entering.... Harry Potter as a study of voice and action, and just finished Queen of Secrets by Jenny Meyerhoff. Also just finished Mean Mothers by Peg Steep - great research book if you're looking to write about bad mother-daughter relationships.

  • Susan Blumberg-Kason

    The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit by Lucette Lagnado

  • Deborah F. Äijö

    The revised edition of The Forest For The Trees by Betsy Lerner. It’s not the typical how to writing book. It goes way beyond that. And the woman can write. It’s a pleasure to read.

    The Help. It’s as good as everyone says.

  • Gillian Ramos

    My book pile is slowly taking over my bedroom. I know there's a bureau in there somewhere...maybe even a floor!

    Right now, I'm reading Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse and Jane Slayre in preparation for a post on judging books by their cover (I chose both of these books from the library because the titles made me laugh). After that, back to serious reading, starting with Never Let Me Go.

  • Tammee Whittley

    Star Island by Carl Hiaasen (funny so far); The Lace Reader (slow going, but I'm hanging on); The Last Talk With Lola Faye by Thomas Cook (good tension, but kinda blah ending); The Chatham School Affair by Thomas Cook (too much of him saying "but had they known what would happen" I put it down); and a bunch of stuff I can't think of right now...lol

  • Sarah Pinneo

    Just finished The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I LOVED it. Now, I'm starting the new novel by SheWriter Lily King, Father of the Rain.

  • Rachel Kramer Bussel

    I'm also reading Do It Anyway and am so moved by Courtney's writing. I'm about to dig in to the new historical romance Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean, whose first romance novel I loved, and am reading a paranormal romance called Sins of the Flesh by Caridad Piñeiro which involves gene replacement and glowing green blood and is definitely off my usual reading path but I'm enjoying it a lot. I just picked up Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir by Sue William Silverman at the library and look forward to putting a bit of that into practice.

    For music/riot grrrl fans, I highly recommend Sara Marcus's new book Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution - gripping storytelling and a lot of detail about/from the key players in the music and zine and activism scenes.

  • Joan Colby

    Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
    Napoleon's Hemorrhoids by Phil Mason
    The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen