On your nightstand now:
Some are weighty tomes, Bob Caro’s biography of Robert Moses; François Mitterand’s letters to his mistress, Anne; Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light; some are the latest Donna Leon or Louise Penny or, more locally, Aaron Stander. Some, like Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt or Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Tightrope, are new enough to be on best seller fiction and non-fiction lists, while others, tried and true, are Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, all of which I reread during this time of the pandemic, the equivalent of comfort food. So that’s my answer to the nightstand question.
Favorite book when you were a child:
As a child I read and reread all the Frank Baum Oz books.
Book you’ve faked reading:
In all honesty, did I ever fake reading a book? If so, I have no recollection of it.
Book you’re an evangelist for:
I have evangelized for Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow and Muriel Burbery’s wonderful Elegance of the Hedgehog.
Book you hid from your parents:
I had to google the long-forgotten author and I don’t remember just what was so shocking to my pre-teen self, but I and my friends in that long ago world war II era passed Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber from hand to hand and always out of parental sight.
Book that changed your life:
Oddly, if I had to choose a book or literary experience that changed my life, it would be a live performance when I was 11 years old, Shakespeare’s Hamlet with Maurice Evans, the so-called “GI Hamlet.” I came home dazed and dazzled by that performance, and all that winter read one Shakespeare play after another.
Five books you’ll never part with:
The five books I wouldn’t part with, would want on that mythical desert island, have needed in this pandemic quarantine. Jane Austen, of course, two or more Austens, Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. Dorothy Sayer’s Gaudy Night, a marvel of a book, detective genre transmuted into serious literature. Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing or Midsummer Night’s Dream.