The Reading Life: What's On My Nightstand

To make my nightstand book rotation, you have to be:

  • A book that will soothingly usher me into sleep,
  • A book I might like to dream about,
  • A book I'm reading right now (and probably staying up too late to finish just one more chapter...or three).

One item always in the rotation: My Nook. It's a lifer. I've come to think of it as a security blanket, as in it ensures that I will always have something to read. I've loaded it with classics and favorite books of my childhood from which I enjoy re-reading selected passages when I'm between books And at any given time, it's home to 10 (or more) not-yet-read books, largely because I'm diligent about trawling the special offers in the Nook bookstore ... also I'm a bit trigger happy with the "purchase" button.

Besides my Nook, the current line-up includes:

"Slouching Towards Bethlehem" by Joan Didion. If I were a preteen, and Joan Didion were a boy band, she'd be the one to make me scream myself hoarse and then faint. And then sob hysterically. And then need to be sedated. I reread the essays in this collection, first published in 1968, often, for inspiration and for the pleasure of being awed. I haven't been able to find an e-book version to download and safely store in a cloud somewhere, so I like to keep the book where I can see it.

If you have never read the titular essay, and you're wondering what people mean when they describe journalism as literature, read the title essay. The first line: "The center was not holding."

"The Enchanted Wanderer" by Nikolai Leskov. When I was referring to books I might like to dream about, I was thinking about this one, a collection of stories translated from Russian by the award-winning husband and wife team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. I'd never heard of Leskov before I stumbled on this beautiful hardcover. The title of the book alone inspires me to dream well, but the stories are also captivating. So the book came off the shelf and onto the nightstand as I wend my way through it.

"Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel. It's this month's book club pick (and also a darn good book).

What's on your nightstand?

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