News & Politics

4 Books Washingtonians Should Be Reading This Month

New novels from Washington-area authors.

The Road to Character

Washington’s David Brooks—the New York Times columnist and PBS commentator whose measured calm gives punditry a good name—offers the building blocks of a meaningful life in The Road to Character, interweaving profiles of mostly non-sexy but inspiring exemplars (New Deal Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, civil-rights leader Bayard Rustin, Ike Eisenhower, to name a few) with his own reflections and analysis.

The Language of Paradise

“James left for Boston on April 30, a day of soft beauty, the sky a new blue and a green haze frothing the trees.” If that sentence doesn’t describe the day you’re reading this, it will soon. It’s from The Language of Paradise by Annapolis’s Barbara Klein Moss—the story of a 19th-century minister’s daughter, the offbeat theology student she marries, and his effort to discover the tongue Adam spoke in the Garden of Eden.

Teaching Peace: Students Exchange Letters with their Teacher

Former Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy has taught peace studies at AU, Georgetown, and Woodrow Wilson and Bethesda-Chevy Chase high schools, among others, for 30-plus years. The often intensely heartfelt correspondence in Teaching Peace: Students Exchange Letters With Their Teacher includes moments both light and unexpected—such as his recommendations of local country clubs to try for a summer golf-caddy job.

Washing the Dead

Glen Echo writer Michelle Brafman’s novel, Washing the Dead, is about a woman returning to an Orthodox community for a burial ritual, years after her mother’s affair separated her from it: “My mother’s mood hovered over us, a mist that could either turn to rain or vanish into the sunlight. During our family walk to Shabbos services, I saw her eyes honeying over, the first sign that at any moment she could dip away from us, into that place inside herself.”

This article appears in our April 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Senior Managing Editor

Bill O’Sullivan is senior managing editor; from 1999 to 2007, he was a features editor. In another lifetime, he was assistant managing editor. Somewhere in the middle, he was managing editor of Common Boundary magazine and senior editor at the Center for Public Integrity. His personal essays have been cited three times among the notable essays of the year in The Best American Essays. He teaches at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda.