The Four Books You Should Read Right Now, According to Designer Joy Moyler

Ashley Leath
·5-min read
Photo credit: elenaleonova
Photo credit: elenaleonova

From Veranda

Photo credit: David Land
Photo credit: David Land

Ask a person what they're reading, and you're bound to receive a revealing answer. Veranda contributing editor Joy Moyler is no exception. Whether she's reminiscing about the reading habits instilled in her by her parents or gushing about her love for the Gothic classic Rebecca by Dame Daphne du Maurier, Moyler's reading lens is as expansive as it is just plain fun. Here's what she's reading right now.

Tell us what kind of reader you are. Do you go through what I call 'reading droughts' and then, like a wave, binge as many titles as you can all at once? Or are you more of a slow-and-steady reader, devotedly taking in a chapter a night while you unwind from the day?

I'm a binger. You have to have time to give to a book, and when I’m reading a good one, I want time to read it really thoroughly. So I read when I have chunks of time to devour a book—rather, let it devour me—so I can really get into it. I want to go full monty straight through.

When I read, I'm fast, so I'll read like three books in a week, but I want to devote myself to it.

Any favorite authors or titles you love?

I truly love mysteries and drama, so James Patterson is high on my list. I’ve read everything he’s done! Also, Vince Flynn and Robert Ludlum. I love intrigue and international espionage, anything that reminds me of a James Bond movie. But I also love the flip side, which is design and decorating books, anything on Billy Baldwin, and I'm excited for the new Veranda Elements of Beauty by Kathryn O'Shea-Evans.

Do you have a go-to book you gift to others? Anything you'd recommend to us right now?

My gift book is always Michelle Obama’s Becoming. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, a story about someone’s life is so inspiring, and her journey is relatable in so many ways. You can find empathy in every person's journey and story.

I also just finished Mrs. Astor Regrets by Meryl Gordon, about the Gilded Age and the Astors and their lives. I’m a Rebecca devotee, and Mrs. Astor Regrets parodies that kind of life. The late philanthropist Brooke Astor's life was lavish, deep in wealth and struggle. This is a glimpse behind the gates, into the Gilded Age of the Astor family and their unraveling empire.

There's an interesting new book, out this past July, called Bebop Fairy Tales by Mark Ruffin. Mark is a jazz critic for SiriusXM, and he used notable characters in a fictitious way to tell stories centered around real-life events and the life and times of jazz and baseball. It's dressed in the garments of racial nuances in America and has reflections on baseball and the impact of jazz on this country's landscape. It was really poignant, especially if you love history.

Also, Grace Bonney's In the Company of Women. This one was just reissued as a paperback with new profiles added. It's filled with inspirational stories from incredible women from all walks of life and glimpses of their career trajectories and roads that led them to where they are now in their careers and lives.

And lastly, Mandela, Mobutu, and Me by Lynne Duke. It follows Washington Post columnist Lynne Duke's journeys through Africa in the 1990s, spanning everything from the battle zones of the Congo to Rwanda's notorious genocide and the exploitation of the continent. It's also a reflection of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, as he led his country through apartheid. These are stories from a fearless and dedicated journalist.

What do you want to see more of in publishing?

I want to see more profiles of interesting people, people of color, and people doing great things. I love makers and craftsmanship, so I want more stories of people who make things of note, like the article on plaster in the current issue of Veranda. I've always adored plaster and 'stalked' Hyde Park Mouldings. I’ll pack a lunch and watch plasterworkers on-site. Just last week, I saw a photo on Instagram, and I asked if I could watch the plasterwork in person because I love it so much, so I went to the site and saw the fluted columns being made, and it was just beautiful. I’m not into books on renovations necessarily, but I want to see homages to makers. Think archival patterns from Schumacher, Clarence House....

Photo credit: Stefano Scatà
Photo credit: Stefano Scatà

I also just want to see more bookstores. They feel like a dying breed right now. This idea that you go to a bookstore and sit in a chair or thumb your way through the aisles, that’s like Christmas to me. And with the pandemic, bookstores were closed for months, and they're struggling. I went to a bookstore last week, and I felt like, 'Where is everyone?' The idea of being lost in a bookstore is a dying one, but I think we need it.

Have you always been a reader?

Oh, yes. My dad worked for the New York Times and insisted we read after dinner. Reading was fundamental and absolutely mandatory, and we weren’t really very much into dolls and playthings—my parents thought that wasn’t something that was going to enrich our lives. But books we always got for Christmas, or magazines. We went straight for the newsy stuff, like National Geographic. The important lessons come from the world and reality, and we found that in books.

Get more book content from VERANDA with our Sip & Read Book Club, when we feature a book each month alongside a fabulous cocktail and a chat with the author.

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