The Sunday Salon: Books By the Bed

Confession time: I sleep around.

Just around my house, that is. Our guest room doubles as my office/reading room, and contains a very comfy full sized bed where I retreat when the combined snoring of my middle-aged husband and our two snub-nosed dogs becomes unbearable.

But back to Books By the Bed* – beside each of my beds there is small table, and heaped on the table are stacks of books. One can never have too many books at hand, so I’m well prepared to read myself into dreamland wherever the need arises.

The books on my regular bedroom night table are always the most current volume (or volumes) on the go. Right now that includes an ancient pocket book edition of Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, by Anne Tyler, which I pulled out the other day after finishing a re-read of Digging to America. I wasn’t sure if I was going to re-read  Homesick Restaurant clear through, or just pick around in it, sampling juicy bites here and there as I reacquainted myself with the Tull family and all their dysfunctions. I’ve never put a bookmark in it, but just leave this yellowed and battered volume lying splayed open on its belly. I’m now 20 pages from the end, so I did end up munching my way through the whole book. Underneath lies Ninepins, a new book by Rosy Thornton, whose previous three novels I’ve loved. I’m waiting eagerly to start that..maybe tonight in fact.

On the table in my other bedroom are two journals – one where I write snippets of poems, quotes, or passages from novels  that have particular meaning for me – sort of a Commonplace book, if you’re familiar with that concept. Also piled there are a couple of books about writing that I often poke through for inspiration: Bird by Bird and Writing Down the Bones are usually among them. Not the best bedtime reading, perhaps, because reading other writers on writing always makes me want to write myself, and that is an activity best left for the morning if you want to get any decent sleep.

I’ve always kept books by my bed, and even in my bed, hiding a paperback and a flashlight under my pillow when I was a little girl so I could read under the covers long after lights were meant to be out.

Nothing’s changed very much at all in the last 50 years.

What books are by YOUR bed?

**This post was prompted by a feature section entitled Books By the Bed, located at We Wanted to be Writers blog.**

The Sunday

21 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Books By the Bed

  1. When I was little there was a gap between my mattress and the side of the bed that I would cram full of books. These days I use the duller version: a bedside table. I keep a stack of the next four or five books that I think I will want to read but that doesn’t necessarily mean I will actually read them next! Currently I have lined up:

    The Seamstress by Maria Dueñas
    The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
    The Library Book edited by Rebecca Gray
    Y: the Last Man volume 1 by Brian K Vaughan, Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan Jr

  2. When I was in boarding school we used to have bunk beds and I used to sleep on the upper bed. Not only did I keep the current novel I was reading but also the text books and notebooks I was meant to study. That habit is still alive apart from the textbooks making it to my bed as well. It made me feel quite nice to know that there are other people who sleep with their books too!

    I’m currently reading Anna Karenina, another childhood fantasy come alive, in the sense that I always used to wish that a little man in tunic would pop out and hand me an interesting story book that never ends.

    • I’m imagining those heavy textbooks falling out of the bunk bed and making a resounding whump! on the floor 🙂 Or worse yet, your roommates head!

  3. The way you started your post really cracked me up. I have a snoring husband too, lol and he says my reading light keeps him awake, oh well we need to keep them around so we adjust!

    I have a Rosy Thornton book I have to get to very soon. It keeps traveling up and down my TBR stacks.

    Have a great week!!

  4. This is a great post. I have books piled on my nightstand and because that pile threatened to topple, on the floor next to it. I usually keep at least 2 of the books I’m reading in the bed right next to my pillow…Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katharine Boo and The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers are there now.

    • I often end up tucking my book under the pillow at night because I’m too tired to put it back on the night table.

      Behind the Beautiful Forevers – what a great name for a book!

  5. I’m re-reading Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant right now, too. Cody is irritating me all over again! I’d like to read Bird by Bird I’ve heard it is very inspirational. I liked your description of leaving a tattered book splayed open on it’s belly. I once posted a picture of a book like that on my blog and a commenter told me to treat books with more respect!!

    • How funny that we’d both be reading that one again! Such an odd family – and yes, Cody was a major ass.

      Usually I am more careful with my books, but this is such an old battered paperback ( I think I picked it up in a used bookstore) that I don’t feel too badly about mistreating it slightly!

  6. What a lovely post – very well done.

    Currently I have by the bed I have the first Louise Penny novel and Nicole Krauss’s The history of Love. By the couch is The Various Haunts of Men, in the purse is the Kindle with The Red Pottage, and in the backpack (its track season) is Astonishing Splashes of Colour. I grew up in a family that it is best to always have a book at hand as you never know when you will have a chance to read.

  7. Oh, I just love all the books you have! It’s amazing how we feel great comfort to be surrounded by books. I just love them all. I have quite a few books I’m reading and even more that are waiting to be read. Currently, I’m reading The Galveston Chronicles and Never See Me Again (both local reads,but very different). Thanks for sharing!
    P.S. I love your website front page design 😀

  8. I used to read in bed. Back in the days before my wife and I watched TV in the evenings, sitting there in the dark until we slipped into a light coma and only roused ourselves when it was time to shuffle up the stairs and stumble into bed. So much for bedtime reading.

    So, I grab my book time in small sips throughout the day. In a sense, I guess I have a virtual nightstand….except it’s on the shelf in my breakfast nook, or in the pocket of my briefcase, or contained in one of the many stacks on my writing desk. Right now, those books would include “Canada” by Richard Ford (on the Kindle), “What It Is Like to Go to War” by Karl Marlantes, “Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan” by William Hjortsberg, “Flannery: A Life” by Brad Gooch, and “The Violent Bear It Away” by Flannery O’Connor. (Can you say “over-extended”?)

    Loved this post, by the way.

    • Thanks for stopping by, David. You do have a rather extensive list going on there. I’m interested in the bio of Flannery O’Connor – will have to look that up. I read her collection of letters last year (Habit of Being) and developed a serious Flannery fetish. Have you read Ann Napolitano’s novel in which O’Connor is a main character? (A Good Hard Look) It’s excellent …another book for your pile!

      • Becca,
        Brad Gooch’s bio of Flannery O’Connor is very good. Highly recommended. It’s the current book in the ongoing, year-long Biography Project at my blog.
        And, yes, I’ve had Ann Napolitano’s novel on my to-read list for about a year. Am hoping to make time for it soon! Thanks for the reminder.

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