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Meet the WritersImage of Dina Temple-Raston
Dina Temple-Raston
Good to Know
Temple-Raston told us that her first job "was at an ice cream parlor called Hopton's Hot Fudge Factory in Northern California and our favorite ice cream to scoop was Thin Mint, because we could pick out big chunks of chocolate and pop them into mouths when no one was watching."

She also let us in on some of her favorite pastimes: "I sail a one-design sailboat called an International 505 and race it up and down the East Coast. I also run, ski, and play golf, badly."

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In the winter of 2003, Dina Temple-Raston answered some of our questions.

What was the book that most influenced your life -- and why?
It is hard to pick just one. A professor of mine once said that you don't find books, they find you. That's why a book that you couldn't bring yourself to delve into a year ago suddenly becomes exactly the book you need today. If I had to pick one book, however, it would be Henry James's A Little Tour in France. I did an independent study on James's travel writing my senior year at Northwestern with Joseph Epstein, and it was then that I learned one could just go somewhere, learn about the place and, in James's words, "be assailed by the perceptions." Then, again in his words, if all is well, "expectation is exquisitely gratified."

What are your favorite books -- and why?

  • The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope, my first grown-up book.

  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, because it captures the frustrations and joys of writing.

  • No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin, because it captures a moment in time at the White House.

Favorite films?
Comedies. I like old movies better than new ones.

Favorite music?

  • John Mayer
  • James Taylor
  • Beck
  • Copland's Tenderland Suites
  • Toni Price
  • Norah Jones

If you had a book club, what would it be reading -- and why?
It would be reading some sort of history because reading history enlarges your pond and makes you smarter. I love fiction, and read a lot of fiction, but I always have some sort of history book on the bedside table as well that requires dipping into.

What are your favorite books to give as gifts?

  • A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean

  • Anything by Joseph Epstein, the essayist. In particular, his Narcissus Leaves the Pool is my favorite. He was a professor of mine from Northwestern.

  • The Soccer War by Ryszard Kapuscinski

  • The French Laundry Cookbook by Tom Keller

  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal

    What are you working on now?
    A book called Justice on the Grass, about Rwanda's attempts to recover from the 1994 genocide. It has many of the same themes as the Jasper book. How does a country redeem itself after tragedy? How is justice served? And how does tragedy affect a small society? It will be finished, I hope, by the end of the year.

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  • About the Writer
    *Dina Temple-Raston Home
    * Good to Know
    * Interview
    *A Death in Texas: A Story of Race, Murder and a Small Town's Struggle for Redemption, 2001
    *Justice on the Grass: Three Rwandan Journalists, Their Trial for War Crimes and a Nation's Quest for Redemption, 2005