My until now unspoken and unwritten 2022 New Year’s resolution is to quit ignoring my burgeoning TBR table. I should set a number, so let’s say 15. There. I’ll read 15 books from the to-be-read table, which isn’t the main reading table that’s simply called the reading table. I also resolve to read more nonfiction. I don’t want to force that decision with a number, rather be more intentional about it, as I did when I promised myself to read more translated literature, which now naturally figures into my reading selections. So here goes, three nonfiction books to entice both me and you.
If you visit the publisher’s webpage for The Vanished Collection by Pauline Baer de Perignon, you’ll see a quote at the top of the page from a review in The Washington Post : “Engrossing … it reads like a detective story. … [Its] ultimate theme is about restoring memory–that most significant feature that makes humans human.” With that accolade, people (like me) must be running to their local bookshops to get this book. It tells the story of the author’s search to find out what happened to her great-grandfather’s collected art, which included works by Renoir, Monet, Degas, and others. From the book’s description: “And what became of the collection after Nazis seized her great-grandparents’ elegant Parisian apartment? The quest takes Pauline Baer de Perignon from the Occupation of France to the present day as she breaks the silence around the wrenching experiences her family never fully transmitted, and asks what art itself is capable of conveying over time.” (Published this month.)
Author Natalie Hodges is a classical violinist. She pursued the dream of becoming a concert solo violinist, beginning in early childhood, but ended the pursuit due to performance anxiety. From the book’s description: “Anchoring her story in illuminating research in neuroscience and quantum physics, Hodges traces her own passage through difficult family dynamics, prejudice, and enormous personal expectations to come to terms with the meaning of a life reimagined—one still shaped by classical music but moving toward the freedom of improvisation.” I’m intrigued by this memoir, written in essays, because of my own anxieties studying classical piano many years ago. Also, this book gets rave advance reviews, and ever since I found out about it, I keep thinking about it. Uncommon Measure: A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time by Natalie Hodges will be available in March.
Also coming in March, what portends to be a delight, The Very Last Interview by David Shields gathers questions from 40 years of interviews. Found under “Praise” on the publisher’s website, Kirkus Reviews says: “A delightful and utterly Shields-ian work. . . [The Very Last Interview is] a hilarious takedown of the interview process, of his own public persona, and of the journalists themselves, blessedly anonymous, who asked some of the most outrageously mean, out-there, self-important, stupid, and simply impossible questions imaginable. . . Totally deadpan and irresistibly hilarious.” We could all use some hilarity in our lives these days, don’t you think? Publishers Weekly, below the Kirkus comment, says: “This falls squarely between the absurd and the clever.” Both give the book a hand-clapping star. I can’t wait.