What’s on my Nightstand

My nightstand–at least one little corner of it

What’s on my bedside table these days? Oh, you know. Some hand lotion. The earrings I wore to a party Saturday night. Some shelter magazines. Like the latest issue of HOUSE BEAUTIFUL, which is a total rhapsody in blue–my favorite color.

Mood Indigo–a gorgeous Hamptons beach house in House Beautiful

I do try to let go of magazines, but this issue is never going away. And books. Lawwwwd, I do have stacks of books. But here are three very new books which I enjoyed very much, and which I think you’d enjoy too. Coincidentally, they all have Southern authors or themes, although I certainly don’t limit my reading to any one region of the country. The first book I want to tell you about is SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.

If you loved THE HELP, you’ll love CeeCee

A first novel by Beth Hoffman, this is the story of 12-year-old Cecelia Rose Honeycutt, who has been the caretaker for her mother, a psychotic former beauty queen. CeeCee’s father has taken a powder, her mother is nutty as a fruitcake, and her only friend in her small town “up north” is Mrs. Odell, the widow lady who lives across the street. But when an even greater tragedy strikes, CeeCee’s salvation comes in the form of her great aunt Tootie, who rides into town in a vintage Packard and carries her off to a new life in Savannah, Georgia. If you’re like me, February is the time you’re yearning for a good read, a book that will take you away to a different time and place, and fully engage you in the life of a character you’ll come to know and love. That’s CeeCee. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you that the editor of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT is the brilliant and beautiful Pamela Dorman, who also acquired and published a little book you might have heard of a few years ago, a book called THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd. Pam also happens to be married to the brilliant and dashing Stuart Krichevsky, who is my literary agent. So you know she has impeccable taste, both in books and husbands. Also on my nightstand these days is a new memoir by a former colleague from my days at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s ENCHANTED BARBIE AND THE SECOND COMING.

Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s new memoir

Starting out life as a foot-washing Baptist growing up in small Southern towns, graduating from journalism school at Auburn University and a life spent chronicling the everyday and the odd for a string of newspapers fortunate enough to hire her, Rheta Johnson’s eye for detail and her ability to make both the comic and tragic come alive make for a wonderful memoir. Her tales of starting a weekly newspaper on St. Simon’s Island, of meeting and marrying a journalism professor, and her ill-starred stint at the AJC had me from the get-go. Hers is a clear-eyed but affectionate look at a region she loves. There’s lots to love in this memoir–except for the book jacket. But don’t let that put you off. This is really a Valentine to a life in the South that’s rapidly disappearing. Which brings me to the third new book on my bedside table.

I LOVE YOU, NOW HUSH, is what my husband tells me almost every night when I’m rambling on and he’s trying to go to sleep. It’s also the title of a witty collection of essays about the nature of men and women–as seen by Melinda Rainey Thompson and Morgan Murphy. She’s a dyed-in-the-wool Alabama magnolia–a Kappa Kappa Gamma from Tulane, who also happens to have a masters from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, he’s a bourbon-swilling, cigar-smoking bon vivant whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Esquire, Forbes and Southern Living. Check out the chapter on Southern cusswords!

8 thoughts on “What’s on my Nightstand”

  1. I used to read Rheta's columuns in the AJC a while back and really liked her. I will go and look for the book. The other two also look like good reads. I need to tear myself away from seed catalogs and gardening magazines for a while – till this rain stops at least.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations! I already had SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT on my to read list! Now it's moved to the top! I will check out the other two also.

  3. SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT is just what I need. Just finished THE HELP after I saw your blog on it. Loved it! Heard movie rights have already been sold. Thank you so much for sharing with your fans! 🙂

  4. These all sound like good "reads". I've enjoyed Rheta in a previous life, lived in Miss., loved her columns for various newspapers, she's such a hoot! Can't wait to read the book. Sorry for the poor blog etiquette, commenting at such a late date. I haven't been keeping up with my favs.

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