A new appreciation for children’s books

In the past year Nathan Englander has lived in Malawi, where his wife was working on her doctorate, judged Canada’s literary prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and finished a novel, “Dinner at the Center of the Earth.” Now comes the 20-city plus book tour. Englander reads at 7 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 15, at Harvard Book Store.

BOOKS: Did becoming a parent change your reading?


ENGLANDER: Children’s books have really become a part of my reading life. As kids my sister and I loved Barbara and Ed Emberley’s “Drummer Hoff.” It’s a masterful book with these crazy woodcuts and rhymes. My daughter loves it, but I’ve been forcing my taste on her. She’s nutty for Andrea Beaty and David Roberts’s “Ada Twist, Scientist.” There’s this book “Wolfie the Bunny” by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora about a rabbit family that adopts a wolf. When the sister rabbit stands up for Wolfie it literally moves me to tears. [Children’s literature] is a form a poetry. They are short and primal.

BOOKS: What are you reading for yourself?

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ENGLANDER: For the Giller I have to have been through a 100 novels. I was just finishing the last 30. It’s an interesting process to read that much and that fast. I’m an extraordinarily slow reader. I hear every line in my head. This was a good lesson for me because you can’t read 100 books that way. I’m so glad to get to choose my own books again. One of the few non-Giller books I managed to read is “The Evening Road” by Laird Hunt. It’s about people heading toward a lynching. It’s interesting to see how people deal with explosive subjects.

BOOKS: What’s on your to-read stack?

ENGLANDER: I started “A Separation” by Katie Kitamura. You feel like you are in good hands with that book. In…

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