Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On the Nightstand

My nightstand is covered with good books because I want choices for my just-before-bed reading. Sometimes that time is a mere few minutes and I want the last things that fill my head to be uplifting, hopeful, or at least helpful to me. Often I will reach for passages in an old favorite such as Madame Bovary. Sometimes I choose meditations from Simple Abundance. Whatever I select, it has to be as warm and comforting as the good night wishes from an old friend who is visiting from afar.
One can tell something from a person's nightstand and if I happen to be in the vicinity of someone's, I will peek to see if I have missed a good book and also to see the words of wisdom others require to be lulled to sleep. My sister's nightstand is covered with faithful companions in the form of small meditation books, highlighted from years of use. A friend's is a repository of Civil War diaries, which are his passion. The books are piled high, about fourteen total, all previously read and absorbed. He slips one from the tower every night for those last words of comfort and joy.
I always try to catch the books actors in films are taking to bed with them. You would be surprised how often this scene occurs in movies and I am certain the books that are selected are no accident. Sarah Jessica Parker went to bed in the last Sex and the City movie with Nancy Mitford's "Love in a Cold Climate", a romantic and charming story perfect for her Carrie Bradshaw.
My nightstand holds children's books, a book of poetry, and a book of prayers. But more often than not, I will choose an old friendly novel. One that delivers the good night promise lately is "Lantern Hill" by Lucy Maud Montgomery. "...that she was Jane again and no longer a lost wind...was it her laugh or a chime of bells"? Or this, "Watch the stars whenever you are worried, Jane...they will steady you, comfort you, balance you". What we choose to read before sleep is a grown up lullaby really, and one we can sing to ourselves.


  1. Perfectly put, Donna, as always! Bookworms love nightstand piles, don't we? And yes, they are lullabyes, ready to lull us into a good night's sleep by reminding us of who we are and what we believe. Right now, I'm enjoying a new novel, but one reliable nightstand favorite of mine is anything by Jane Austen. Lucy Maud is a dependable comfort, too. I just loved this post...it was especially dear.

  2. I love to fall asleep with someone reading to me, so my favorite stories are those by Jan Karon.

    I also like to listen to story podcasts (the New Yorker Fiction podcast, StoryCorps, Selected Shorts, Tobolowsky Files).