On your nightstand now: For some time now, I don’t know why ( ha ha), I have wanted my bedtime reading to be pretty light. So right now, next to my bed I have Picture This by Lynda Barry, Gracias, Omu , a picture book by Oge Mora, and a book called Lists of Note: An Eclectic Collection Deserving of a Wider Audience, compiled by Shaun Usher. It’s filled with all kinds of actual lists, including a shopping list of Galileo’s and fifty possible dwarf names compiled by the team at Disney for the Snow White movie.
Favorite book when you were a child: The Forgotten Door, by Alexander Key
Your top five authors: George Saunders, Miriam Toews, Joan Aiken, James Marshall, and Carson McCullers. Semi-randomly selected from a list of dozens. Wait, what about Dickens? There has to be Dickens!
Book you’ve faked reading: Um, I think something by Michael Pollan. I always wish his books were magazine articles.
Book you’re an evangelist for: Everything Sad is Untrue, by Daniel Nayeri. Also, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, in which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, by George Saunders (and Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekhov, and Turgenev)
Book you’ve bought for the cover: All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews
Book you hid from your parents: My journal, maybe? My parents paid little attention to what I was reading, as far as I knew.
Book that changed your life: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. I think I absorbed quite a bit of his way of looking at the world.
Favorite line from a book: From Dylan Thomas’s Under Milkwood: Alone until she dies, Bessie Bighead, hired help, born in the workhouse, smelling of the cowshed, snores bass and gruff on a couch of straw in a loft in Salt Lake Farm and picks a posy of daisies in Sunday meadow to put on the grave of Gomer Owen who kissed her once by the pigsty when she wasn’t looking and never kissed her again although she was looking all the time.
(the part in bold italic is the favorite part)
Five books you’ll never part with: Under Milkwood by Dylan Thomas, The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman, One! Hundred! Demons! by Lynda Barry, What Have You Lost? anthologized by Naomi Shihab Nye, and un-Fashion, by Maira and Tibor Kalman
Book you most want to read again for the first time: Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow. It was such a complete surprise and delight.