M. Lewis Lerman’s Nightstand, author of “Beware the Sheep”
My nightstand is an amalgam of utility and sentimentality: its interior is stuffed with yellow legal pads and pre-sharpened pencils, and its flat mahogany surface – though occasionally tidy – is typically overrun by drained coffee mugs and lavender candles, knotted-up headphones and an ever-changing pile of slim paperback novels.
Balancing precariously smack in the center of the stack is a huge, hulking white hardcover. The Goldfinch has had a lasting influence on me — not because of Donna Tartt’s rich scenery or fluent prose — but for finding humanity in some of life’s darkest and most unfiltered moments.
The Goldfinch proves tragic from beginning to end — not maudlin though, or sentimental. It’s a controversial title, and definitely a Love-It-or-Hate-It read, but if it hasn’t graced your nightstand yet, I highly recommend it!
A beat up sepia paperback, At Home In The World by Joyce Maynard, is memoir from the late 90’s.
When I first picked it up a decade ago, I did so because of a burgeoning obsession with JD Salinger. At Home chronicles 18-year-old Maynard’s year-long affair with Salinger (he was 53).
Rereading it today, I do so without the rose-colored veil draped oh-so-carefully over Salinger, and with profound empathy for Maynard – something I lacked completely at 15.
At Home in the World is an important reminder that a good book evolves as its reader does. And some material takes decades to digest completely.
Leaping genres, one of my not-so-secret obsessions is theoretical physics. To me there is absolutely nothing cooler than quantum mechanics, black holes, and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. There’s just one tiny problem: it all goes WAY over my head! I stink at math, I barely passed science, and I’ve never taken a physics class in my life.
Fortunately, for people like me, there is Chad Orzel’s brilliant How to Teach Physics to Your Dog, which is a real standout in the crowded pop-science genre. It’s clever, funny, and exceptionally easy to follow (which trust me, isn’t always the case!).
The final book taking up space on my nightstand is one that’s currently topping my “to-read” list.
Admittedly, I’m a complete sucker for the angst-ridden teen protagonist, but My Heart and Other Black Holes seems to be a whole lot more. To start, Jasmine Warga wrote 16-year-old Aysel as a physics nerd. How cool is that?! (see book #3).
But even if you’re not into physics, Aysel seems like a character anyone can relate to, coming from a challenging home life and having a rough time at school. Pair that with a dramatic suicide pact and a potential teen romance and this is a book I can’t wait to dive into!
Your reading choices, like a cluttered nightstand, are a reflection of your personality. They offer a web of contradictions and share small glimpses into what you like, what you hate, and whom you admire. So I wonder now, what favorite reads are taking up space on your nightstand?
M. Lewis Lerman is the author of the new YA book Beware the Sheep, making its debut on March 11, 2015.
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