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Winter 2015

On My Bookshelf

IllustrationCurrently reading: Even though I rarely read more than one book at a time, in the last few weeks, I have returned to three books. On the eve of my mother’s 100th birthday, I have been reading Balm In Gilead, the biography I wrote about her. Wanting to honor the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, I dove back into Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters, the magisterial first volume of his Martin Luther King trilogy. And I have revisited Still Alice, the beautifully written, evocative, and luminous first novel by neuroscientist Lisa Genova about a Harvard professor’s descent into Alzheimer’s.

Reading to my children and now to my grandchildren: Our bedtime ritual begins with two books, one old favorite and the other something new, followed by a couple of songs I sing to help them find sleep. Some of the classics enjoyed by both generations: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Goodnight Moon, Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, Where the Wild Things Are, Tar Beach.
 
Books education students should read: These three foundational texts are close to the top of my long list of essential readings: John Dewey’s Art As Experience, W. E. B. DuBois’ Souls of Black Folks, Richard Kluger’s Simple Justice.

Reading rituals: My reading rituals are seasonal. In the fall and winter, I like to curl up at night on the couch in front of the fire at our lakehouse in New Hampshire. In the spring and summer, I love to read in the very early morning on the screen porch overlooking the lake as I watch the sunrise.

Childhood reading: I do not remember reading much on my own beyond what was required at school until I was about 11 or 12. (I was someone who much preferred to write than to read; I began keeping a journal and writing short stories when I was eight.) My first memory of being totally absorbed in a big “chapter book” was Marian Anderson’s biography, My Lord What A Morning. She was my heroine; I loved her amazing courage, her astounding voice, and her grace.

Next up: I will tackle Andrew Solomon’s imposing and powerful Far From the Tree: Children and the Search for Identity.