April 20, 2015
Staff Picks: What books are currently on your nightstand?
In addition to reading the endless stream of new business books that come across our desks each week, our staff and board members keep their noses in all sorts of books. Current events, poetry, classics, cookbooks, sci-fi—you name it, we’re reading it. Here’s what’s currently piled up on our collective nightstands, begging for our attention.
The photo to the left is pretty much the constant state of my nightstand.
The books actually on top of the nightstand right now are Phil Klay’s Redeployment which I’ve recently finished, and The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq by Hassan Blasim which I just began.
Looking through the stacks while taking this picture, there are some I’ve read and need to shelf, some that will get moved back to the top of the pile, and three books that have the word "God" in the title (Baseball as a Road to God, Living with a Wild God, and God and the Multiverse), so it seems I’m searching for a god in my reading?
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
A beautifully written, important, and completely engrossing science book about our natural history. In the end the story is a sad one—but we already know that...
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Holy shmoly—the darkest unspeakable secret makes one man’s life nearly impossible to bear. Digs deep to bring new understanding to the psychological damage of abuse.
And next—just to keep from jumping out the window:
Can’t and Won’t: Stories by Lydia Davis
A constant pleasure—original, funny and oh so smart.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright; Worn Stories by Emily Spivack; Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits; and Mortality by Christopher Hitchens.
The Woman Who Borrowed Memories: Selected Stories by Tove Jansson
Short stories. She fools me into a romantic attraction to a life of dire solitude. Her characters are strong and often ruthless, and yet loveable.
The three books currently on my bedside table reflect the different moods I can be in when I do find time to read at home. Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher is epistolary fiction which appeals to my post-academic, psychology interests; East of Eden by John Steinbeck is a classic that is my monthly "stretch" book, one that try I challenge myself with; and The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, a popular, time-travel, fantasy novel that isn't my typical fare, is a light, "I'm too tired to try hard" read.
Just finished: Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming (lent to me by my co-worker Roy).
In progress: My Poems Won’t Change the World by Patrizia Cavalli, which I bought at the incredible Faulkner House Books in New Orleans. I didn’t know Cavalli’s work at all, but the photo of the poet on the cover just drew me in.
Waiting to be started: Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, a birthday present from my mother.
Just opened up and began reading:
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
The rest of the pile:
Canada by Richard Ford: wanting to be read for a long time (by me)
Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon: I go to it when I need important information written exquisitely
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: still sitting there
Wittgenstein's Vienna by Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin: always with me for comfort and lofty ideas
The fact is, reading has been difficult for me the past 5 years living with some extreme stress so I always remember: Being able to read is precious, books are sometimes miraculous, and the part of the brain it requires must never be left to wither because the heart misses it too much.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
I just started reading Girl In A Band. It’s a memoir by Kim Gordon, bassist/vocalist for the band Sonic Youth.
Here’s my bedside stack:
Redeployment by Phil Klay (finished – remarkable)
Once in the West by Christian Wiman (poems by a Christian that this atheist finds brilliant)
2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino (waiting for the end of the school year)
Longbourn by Jo Baker (life from the servants’ perspective, or "What Really Happened at the Bennets' House")
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. It’s a true story: Nine working class boys from the Northwest take on the elite crew teams in the U.S.A. and then head to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Very tough to put down. This won’t remain on my night stand very much longer.
About Blyth Meier
Blyth Meier joined us to lead our marketing department in 2015 after doing that work for the Milwaukee Film Festival for the previous five years. While she made good use her filmmaking degree at that job, here she returns to her first love—books. As an undergraduate English major at the University of North Dakota, Blyth’s favorite time of year was the annual Writers Conference, which brought many of her soon-to-be favorite authors to the remote Northern Prairie: Peter Matthiessen, August Wilson, Toi Derricotte, Mark Doty, Natasha Trethewey, and Terry Tempest Williams. Blyth lives in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, where she gardens, cooks, takes photographs, makes films, and participates in a yearly 24-hour bike race. At 800-CEO-READ, she runs our social media accounts, writes for In the Books, and is the keeper of all our marketing spreadsheets.