Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Books

What's Leonard Pitts Jr. reading?

Nightstand

Leonard Pitts Jr.

Pitts is the author of several books and a syndicated columnist for the Miami Herald who won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. Born in Southern California, he earned a degree in English from the University of Southern California at age 19, having entered school at 15 in an honors program. His new novel, Freeman, is set in the months after the Confederate surrender and Lincoln's assassination. Pitts, 54, lives in Bowie, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., with his family.

What's on your nightstand?

I usually have two books going at once. I've got on audio Chester Himes, A Rage In Harlem, and in traditional book form, The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter. It's a book on the idea that racism was constructed 300 or 400 years ago. Part of the reason was to justify slavery.

Do you recommend it?

It's scholarly and challenging, but it is fascinating. We tend to think that racism is self-evident, but Painter explains how it was created.

At your desk, do you keep particular authors and writings to inspire you?

I admire many columnists, but I don't keep any works on my desk. When it comes to column writing, I believe desperation equals perspiration equals inspiration. When I find a column topic is not immediately there, I know not to panic, and I know something will present itself.

What authors would you like young adults to pay attention to?

Actually, I want them to pay attention to history. My personal sense is that American history is being lost. Kids have no clue as to who and what they are. I'd have them reading John Hope Franklin, Lerone Bennett and Leon Litwack.

Who encouraged you to become a reader?

My mom. She was the one I saw reading for pleasure. The first stuff I read was by Stan Lee of Marvel Comics. He was having a ball, and Spider-Man is my favorite character. Period.

Piper Castillo, Times staff writer, can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
What to watch this week: New season of ‘The Librarians,’ Gwen Stefani’s Christmas special

What to watch this week: New season of ‘The Librarians,’ Gwen Stefani’s Christmas special

MondaySEASON FINALE: The Gifted, 9 p.m., Fox: The team at Mutant HQ is divided on what to do next after Jace is forced to hand over something valuable to Dr. Campbell.Disney's Fairytale Weddings: Holiday Magic, 8 p.m., Freeform: A behind-the-scenes l...
Published: 12/11/17
This week’s pop culture winners and losers: Tonya Harding edition

This week’s pop culture winners and losers: Tonya Harding edition

WINNERS: Tonya Harding The once disgraced Olympic figure skater is no longer on thin ice in the pop culture world. Harding joined Margot Robbie, who is playing her in the upcoming film I, Tonya, on the red carpet this week. While Harding pleaded g...
Published: 12/08/17

Book events: Victorian Christmas Event, Cheryl Hollon launch party

Book TalkCheryl Hollon (Etched in Tears) will appear at a launch party for the new book in her Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series at 2 p.m. Dec. 10 at Books at Park Place, 10468 Roosevelt Blvd. N, St. Petersburg.William Valentine (Cuban Charade) will s...
Published: 12/07/17
Mahaffey Theater cancels Garrison Keillor performance after sexual misconduct allegations

Mahaffey Theater cancels Garrison Keillor performance after sexual misconduct allegations

The Mahaffey Theater has canceled an upcoming performance by Garrison Keillor in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against the former host of A Prairie Home Companion.Keillor was to perform in St. Petersburg on Feb. 5, but the show's promo...
Published: 12/06/17
Review: History’s ‘Knightfall’ will please fans of epic history, popular culture

Review: History’s ‘Knightfall’ will please fans of epic history, popular culture

Sometimes a Templar Knight dies in your field and you have to return his master sword to the temple in Paris, because God's kingdom depends on it.All that happens to Parsifal (Bobby Shofield) in the first episode of History's new period drama Knightf...
Published: 12/06/17
For gift books this holiday season, think classic

For gift books this holiday season, think classic

The gift book is a holiday tradition, but what’s significant enough to merit a space on your recipient’s coffee table? Classics. Look for a book that captures people, places or things we see as enduring, indispensable, iconic: unforgettable photograp...
Published: 12/06/17
36 period dramas you can stream right now on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu

36 period dramas you can stream right now on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu

If you've loved period dramas for any length of time, you probably feel like you've seen them all. Not that there's a shortage of shows dramatizing any and everything from the 1600s to the '60s. But sometimes you've seen all Masterpiece and BBC curr...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
What pop culture from 2017 made you most hopeful for 2018 and beyond?

What pop culture from 2017 made you most hopeful for 2018 and beyond?

Can we all just agree that 2017 has been a toilet fire of epic proportions?Seriously, between all the strife and discord and tragedy and loss, it feels like 2017 was engineered in a lab to feel like a kick in the shins from the moment you woke up in ...
Published: 12/05/17
5 holiday treats to try at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

5 holiday treats to try at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

The Tampa theme park boasts the title of roller coaster king in Florida, but it can also say it has one of the prettiest displays of Christmas lights in Tampa Bay.Busch Gardens runs its annual Christmas Town festivities select nights through Dec. 31,...
Published: 12/05/17
With Trump slashing national monuments, here are three books to read

With Trump slashing national monuments, here are three books to read

With President Donald Trump’s decision to slash the acreage of two national monuments in the news, here are three classic books about our system of national parks, monuments and other protected lands.Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (Harp...
Published: 12/05/17