Raymond Arsenault, John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History and co-director of the Florida Studies Program at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, will appear at the Times Festival of Reading on Oct. 24 with his book The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America. He describes himself as a "hoarder'' with a collection of 12,000 books. He recently attended the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, where he interviewed Jeanne Ashe, Arthur Ashe's widow. "My next book concerns Arthur Ashe. He was a public intellectual who was known for his social activism.''
What is on your nightstand?
Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement by my friend Patricia Sullivan, Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early America by Tony Horowitz. He goes to Plymouth Rock to St. Augustine to the Dominican Republic, looking at the century before the pilgrims. It's breezy but intriguing, and there's lots of humor.
Do you ever use the computer for reading?
I spend half my life on the computer because of class and my writing, but I never do reading there. I never read e-books or read books on Kindle. I just love books. I love the culture of books and I'm concerned about the decline of book culture. I like the idea of mastering a book, digesting it and treating it with respect.