On My Bookshelf: Dean James Ryan
CURRENTLY READING: I have three books on my nightstand that I’m going back and forth between: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, and Respect by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Ed.D.’72.
FAVORITE BOOK FROM CHILDHOOD: I read a lot of biographies of sports heroes when I was younger, including everything I could find on Babe Ruth. But the first book I remember having a real influence, insofar as it introduced me to the power of fiction, was A Separate Peace by John Knowles. I fell in love with that book, and it hooked me on literature. It helped that the book we read right before that one was The Old Man and the Sea, which made A Separate Peace seem even better!
BOOK YOU LOVE READING TO YOUR KIDS AND WHY: Our kids are all older and read on their own, but I loved reading just about any book to them when they were younger. The one I never tired of was Goodnight Moon because it has a very sweet rhythm. At the moment, I’m reading a poem every night with my daughter, who is 10. It’s about as much time as she’ll let me read to her.
IF YOU WERE TO GIVE A BOOK AS A GIFT TO SOMEONE, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY? This is a hard question to answer. I like to give books to friends and family, and what sort of book depends on the person. If they like fiction, I would think of stories that have stuck with me or made me think. I tend to like sad novels, so I would consider American Pastoral by Philip Roth or We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates. If they were in their twenties, I would lean heavily toward The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, which is one of the first philosophically oriented books I read that made sense to me — and made sense of the world to me. If they like nonfiction, I would think of great reads about fascinating people, like West with the Night by Beryl Markham or King of the World by David Remnick. If they were law and history nerds, like me, I would consider Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills.
FAVORITE SPOT TO CURL UP WITH A GOOD BOOK: I don’t really curl up.
NEXT UP: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.