From this past Sunday’s New York Times Book section comes a question and answer I love.
What books are on your nightstand?
My nightstand is crowded. It holds books I’ve recently read, partially read, am waiting to read, and occasionally consult:
“The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr,” Ken Gormley’s exhaustive study of the controversial and historic Whitewater and Lewinsky investigation by special counsel Kenneth W. Starr; “The Line of Fire,” a memoir by Adm. William J. Crowe Jr. (written with David Chanoff), the underappreciated chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Reagan, who took bold and secret steps to avoid accidental war with the Soviet Union; “Alfred Kazin’s Journals,” by the postwar intellectual and great literary critic, edited by Richard M. Cook; “Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar,” the biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore that holds little back about Soviet brutality; “Traps,” MacKenzie Bezos’ novel on the struggles of four modern women; “Genius,” short essays by Harold Bloom on 100 creative writers from Tolstoy to Henry James; the galleys of Steve Luxenberg’s forthcoming book “Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America’s Journey From Slavery to Segregation,” to be published in February; “Once an Eagle,” Anton Myrer’s massive 1968 novel of 20th-century war; “All the King’s Men,” Robert Penn Warren’s epic 1946 novel about a cynical populist Southern governor in the 1930s narrated by a former reporter (my first read in college helped draw me to journalism); “Crossing to Safety,” Wallace Stegner’s 1987 novel showing the lasting power of long-term friendships between two couples in academia; “Cutting for Stone,” Abraham Verghese’s 2009 novel on empathy as a necessary force in the practice of medicine and life; and, lastly and valuably, “Muscle Pain Relief in 90 Seconds,” by Dr. Dale L. Anderson.