What’s On Your Nightstand?: The Post-BEA Edition

For those gentle readers who did not attend, ignored, or otherwise had no idea that there was such a thing as Book Expo America, bear wtih me as I refer to this publishing-industry trade show once more. Quite a few of us either literally and/or figuratively added many new titles to our TBR piles last week (you can learn more about some of them in this post and this post).

But you needn’t have been at BEA to have learned about some new books highlighted there…and you needn’t have paid any attention to BEA in order to have added something new to your own stack of bedside reading. I’ll be posting a few of my “looking-forward-to” titles later this week, but for the moment, let me tell you about three books I found at BEA that I’ve been devouring:

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (Knopf; September 2012) is about a middle-aged man, his saintly mother, and the books they read together while she undergoes various treatments for pancreatic cancer. However, this is not, I repeat, NOT a saccharine tome about learning What Is Most Important and it is also not a dreary chronicle of a death foretold by the title. Yes, Mary Anne Schwalbe dies. Yes, Will Schwalbe discovers he has a few things left to learn from his materfamilias. Most of this book, which I’ve already described as elegant and true, concerns what this pair learns from other people.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (PUB TK, June 2012). I’m cheating a tad with this one, since I received my finished copy just before BEA began. However, I didn’t read it until this weekend, after BEA–and I did meet author Harkness while I was there. The second in the Discovery of Witches trilogy, this book opens with modern-day witch Diana Bishop and her ageless vampire mate Matthew de Clermont landing smack dab in the middle of Tudor England. One of the pleasures in these stories is that Harkness, a former academician, anticipates all manner of questions, anachronisms, and desires, so that there’s always something “up in the air” for readers to ponder.

Finally (for now!), Emma Donoghue’s Astray (Little, Brown, October 2012) lies at my elbow, newly cracked…it’s a collection of loosely linked stories about people who have left beaten paths, and it’s also a return to the kind of historical fiction that Donoghue does particularly well. I can’t tell you much more about it until I stop writing–and start reading.

What’s on your nightstand this week?