Relaxing Things to Read Before Bed

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1: The Overstory

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction
#1 New York Times Bestseller
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
New York Times Notable Book and a Washington PostTimeOprah MagazineNewsweekChicago Tribune, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

When looking for a literary analog, The Overstory is almost something of a Dostoevskian novel. The best book I’ve read in 10 years. It’s a remarkable piece of literature, and the moment it speaks to is climate change. So, for me, it’s a lodestone. It’s a mind-opening fiction, and it connects us all in a very positive way to the things. That we have to do if we want to regain our planet.”
– Emma Thompson
This book is beyond special.… It’s a kind of breakthrough in the ways we think about. And understand the world around us, at a moment when that is desperately needed. The effects of humans on the planet and the possibility of a future. Through 9 varied characters, he brings to life the old forests, the lives of individual trees. The quest for AI, and the love people are capable of, among other themes. It will also break your heart, but it’s not completely without hope.

The author seems to envision only two scenarios: either humankind will wipe itself out. And the earth will generate new, unforeseeable solutions to life or artificial intelligence will impose a solution on humanity that cannot save itself. There are fabulous stand-alone set pieces, engaging characters, glorious prose, and a soul-stirring look into the inner lives of trees.

2:Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America

Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction

In Amity and Prosperity, the prizewinning poet and journalist Eliza Griswold tells the story of the energy boom’s impact on a small town at the edge of Appalachia and one woman’s transformation from a struggling single parent to an unlikely activist.

Stacey Haney is a local nurse working hard to raise two kids and keep up her small farm when the fracking boom comes to her hometown of Amity, Pennsylvania. Intrigued by reports of lucrative natural gas leases in her neighbors’ mailboxes, she strikes a deal with a Texas-based energy company.

Soon trucks begin rumbling past her small farm, a fenced-off drill site rises on an adjacent hilltop, and domestic animals and pets start to die. When mysterious sicknesses begin to afflict her children, she appeals to the company for help. Its representatives insist that nothing is wrong.

Alarmed by her children’s illnesses. Haney joins with neighbors and a committed husband-and-wife legal team to investigate what’s really in the water and air. Against local opposition, Haney and her allies doggedly pursue their case in court. And begin to expose the damage that’s being done to the land her family has lived on for centuries. Soon a community that has long been suspicious of outsiders faces.

Wrenching new questions about who is responsible for their fate, and for redressing it. The faceless corporations that are poisoning the land? The environmentalists who fail to see their economic distress? A federal government that is mandated to protect but fails on the job? Drawing on seven years of immersive reporting. Griswold reveals what happens when an imperiled town faces a crisis of values. And a family wagers everything on an improbable quest for justice.

3: The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Nonfiction

A tiny, fastidiously dressed man emerged from Black Philadelphia around the turn of the century to mentor a generation of young artists. Including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jacob Lawrence and call them the New Negro. So, the creative African Americans whose art, literature, music, and drama would inspire Black people to greatness.

In The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart offers the definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance. Based on the extant primary sources of his life and on interviews with those who knew him personally. He narrates the education of Locke. Including his becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar and earning a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University. And his long career as a professor at Howard University.

Locke also received a cosmopolitan, aesthetic education through his travels in continental Europe. Where he came to appreciate the beauty of art and experienced a freedom unknown to him in the United States.

And yet he became most closely associated with the flowering of Black culture in Jazz Age America. And his promotion of the literary and artistic work of African Americans as the quintessential creations of American modernism. So, in the process, he looked to Africa to find the proud and beautiful roots of the race.

Shifting the discussion of race from politics and economics to the arts. He helped establish the idea that Black urban communities could be crucibles of creativity. Stewart explores both Locke’s professional and private life. Including his relationships with his mother, his friends, and his white patrons, as well as his lifelong search for love as a gay man.

Very Well Written Book

Stewart’s thought-provoking biography recreates the worlds of this illustrious. An enigmatic man who, in promoting the cultural heritage of Black people, so, he became — in the process — a New Negro himself. At 944 pages the book is extremely well researched and very well written. As to the book and its subject.

This is truly an excellent biography of a man that even in literary and art circles is largely unknown. The quotation above from Stewart describing Locke is quite likely the most accurate description. As to why a man with so much influence is so unrecognizable today. He was a man who touched an indescribable and unimaginable amount of people and activities in his life. And yet was not fully committed to any one thing or person in such a way as to define a legacy.

4: Be With

Publishers Weekly Best Poetry Book of 2018

Forrest Gander’s first book of poems since his Pulitzer finalist Core Samples from the World: a startling look through loss, grief, and regret into the exquisite nature of intimacy

Drawing from his experience as a translator. Forrest Gander includes in the first, powerfully elegiac section a version of a poem by the Spanish mystical poet St. John of the Cross. So, he continues with a long multilingual poem examining the syncretic geological. And the cultural history of the U.S. border with Mexico.

The poems of the third section. A moving transcription of Gander’s efforts to address his mother dying of Alzheimer’s―rise from the page like hymns. And transforming slowly from reverence to revelation. Because Gander has been called one of our most formally restless poets. And these new poems express characteristically tensile energy and, as one critic noted, “the most eclectic diction since Hart Crane.”

“Be With” is a collection of different kinds and forms of poetry. This is less a collection of poems than it is meditations upon the personal and the intimate. Even when it talks about things that are aren’t personal or intimate. And this is a collection of poetry that is about the beauty of language. So, you can see how beauty and language can be used to describe and evoke profoundly deep feelings.

5: Fairview

Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

“Dazzling and ruthless…One of the most exquisitely and systematically arranged ambushes of an unsuspecting audience in years…A glorious, scary reminder of the unmatched power of live theater to rattle, roil and shake us wide awake.” Ben Brantley, New York Times

Grandma’s birthday approaches. Beverly is organizing the perfect dinner, but everything seems doomed from the start. The silverware is all wrong, the carrots need chopping and the radio is on the fritz. What at first, appears to be a family comedy takes a sharp, sly turn into a startling examination of deep-seated paradigms about race in America.

The play asks a very important question: “Who is in control of the narrative?” So, If you read the play and truly follow the story, you will see that this contemporary playwright hits the nail on the head!. It opens up a new authentic conversation about race, power, and privilege that we all need to embrace! SO GOOD!!

I will not “spill all the tea” reader. But if you are looking for a new play to awaken the conscience of our often apathetic society. This play is for you! Trust me when I tell you that this play will be produced all over the country.

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