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By the Book

Reading the “By the Book” feature in The New York Times is my favorite weekly ritual. I’m obsessed with knowing what Viet Thanh Nguyen and Emma Straub are flipping through at any given time. Since I routinely answer the questions in my head, I decided it would be fun to actually record my answers and hopefully inspire you to ask your partner or kids these questions at the dinner table tonight.

Read this week’s “By the Book” which interviewed Jennifer Egan. Like her answers? Put a hold on her newest book, Manhattan Beach.

What books are on your nightstand now?

An embarrassing amount, to be honest. Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovara, American Originality: Essays on Poetry by Louise Glück, Album for the Young by Vera Pavlova, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (Advanced Reader Copy), Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Which classic novel did you recently read for the first time?

I just finished A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle and mostly enjoyed it. I’m happy I didn’t read it as a child; I think it would have gone over my head. I can appreciate it now for what it is. And it’s a weird book – younger me wouldn’t have been into that.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

I have an excessive amount of books about dinosaurs and space. These combined usually make for fun conversations when people scan my shelves. It’s not just 5 or 6 books either. By now, it is 30-50. One of my favorite artists, Kelzuki just published a book entitled What We See in the Stars: An Illustrated Tour of the Night Sky. I’m thinking it might be a present to myself sometime in the near future.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

Voracious. I always had a book in my hand. I always read in the car. I always read before going to sleep. I would read on the bus on the way to and from school. I was just always reading. My favorite book as a kid and still one I adore to this day is From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.  It made me love museums at a young age and I never stopped. I went through a Titanic stage so I read a ton of books about the Titanic. I loved Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series too.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Patti Smith! Donna Tartt! Hanya Yanagihara!

You’re being hired as a ghostwriter. Whose story do you most want to tell?

Jasper Johns, no question.

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