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The Arts Landscape: A novel cure for insomnia
The Arts Landscape

The Arts Landscape: A novel cure for insomnia

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Hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires — it’s enough to keep anyone up at night tossing and turning.

Oh how I crave an eight-hour stretch of nocturnal sleep! That’s what I told my doctor recently, hoping to quell these recurring anxieties with a prescription of sleep-inducing tablets.

We talked about what I read at night, and how easy it was to get caught up in a great story well into the early morning hours. I was hoping this would elicit empathy and reinforce my case for help.

“No deal,” she said, reviewing with me recent studies showing long-term, negative effects from prescribed sleep aids. “Try reading the tax code”!

Ouch! I get sleepy just thinking about codes and regulations of any kind, especially when compared to the joys of my literary passion: fiction.

Reading is back in fashion. Be it digital or hardcover, we now have a wealth of reliable sources to help us make informed choices, including book clubs, bookstores, libraries, radio, print media and best of all, people whose opinions we trust.

Oscar Wilde said, “You are what you read,” which made me curious to find out what books friends and colleagues were perusing. Below, my random poll:

Danis Kreimeier, Director of Library Services and Community Outreach, Napa County Library

“The books on my bedside table currently are ‘The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It,’ by Richard Florida, and ‘Tell Me How This Ends Well,’ a novel by David S. Levinson.’”

“I recently reread the complete ‘Dune’ series, but this time I read it in chronological order, as if I was studying the history of Dune and its universe — kind of geeky, I know. I also have a few young adult novels on my list. A well written young adult novel is usually five times better than your best-selling adult fiction. The writing is tight and the voice is authentic.”

Scott Yeager, Artists & Repertoire/Social Media at Runt Record Label Group

“I read ‘Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and The Second World War,’ by Mark Harris. It’s a very interesting look at what John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, William Wyler and Frank Capra did in the war. My admiration of Wyler and Stevens went way up after reading this book. There’s also an excellent three-hour documentary on Netflix streaming as well.”

Julie Dalrymple, Marketing and Communications Manager, Classic Wines Auction, Portland, Oregon

“’The Underground Railroad’ by Colson Whitehead is one of those novels that will haunt you long after you’ve put it down. It provides a unique perspective into slavery, vividly capturing the fear and isolation that so many were forced to endure, yet there is a thread of hope that runs through it.”

“’Homegoing,’ by Yaa Gyasi is an epic generational tale beginning several hundred years ago in the Ashanti region of Africa, continuing to modern day America. It makes you question the definition of ‘home,’ and consider the path of your own ancestors.”

Roddy Macdonald, local resident , Brigadier British Army Retired

“The New York Times bestseller, ‘Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal,’ by James D. Hornfischer, is a gripping account of the sacrifice where for every marine and soldier who died in land battle, three sailors died at sea. The scale of the U.S. Navy loss and why – a combination of ineptitude and bravery – is superbly told and will engage all readers, even those not normally attuned to military history.”

“Another Times bestseller, ‘Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,’ by Reza Asian, is a logical and well researched narrative of the life and times of historical Jesus that will intrigue all readers regardless of religion or creed or none at all. From historical data, Reza Aslan creates an image of a historical Jesus that is at odds with the allegorical Jesus of modern Christianity.

Naomi Chamblin, co-owner, Napa Bookmine

“’The Heart’s Invisible Furies,’ by John Boyne is so good, and I loved it. From the very beginning, you’re there! Although I thought it was about 150 pages too long, I finished it anyway.”

For me, as tempting as these recommendations are, my own stack of unread novels will have to be moved from nightstand to living room shelf. I’ll soon be tackling “Mail Chimp for Dummies,” a safer, and hopefully faster way to inspire those ‘z’s!

Evy Warshawski is an arts presenter and partner in E & M Presents, bringing Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live on Sat., Oct. 7, to the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center. For information, visit

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