What’s On Your Nightstand?: Slice of Life #sol19 4/31

Today I’m borrowing a topic from Catherine at Reading to the Core which she, in turn, has borrowed from a popular column in the New York Times called “By the Book”: What’s on your nightstand?

First, there are the books that I am actually reading. I read books for grown-ups before bed, but they have to be just the right kind of book. Quiet, evenly paced, nothing too upsetting or challenging. I’m in the middle of Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend, which is such a wonderful book for me because so much of it is about writing and being a writer. I am a bit surprised that it’s so popular. Perhaps everyone is a writer at heart? It’s also about dogs and grief and solitude. I came across The Friend when I was researching award-winning books by women writers for the reading challenge I’m doing with my mom this year.

I don’t always have multiple bedtime books going, but right now I’m also reading a nonfiction book called The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. It’s a memoir by a woman who is bedridden with a chronic illness. Her friend brings her a snail from the forest (what an odd gift! “I saw this snail and thought of you.”) and she finds such interest and engagement in observing it as it goes about its daily business. And then she begins reading about snails, so her writing blends her observations with her research. I had no idea snails could be so fascinating. This is a book that reminds me to notice and observe the world around me. Rich subjects for my attention and for my writing are everywhere. This is a book my mother read and then gave to me, telling me it would be perfect for before-bed reading.

Many types of books that I love to read are too agitating to read before bed. They wake my mind up with too many ideas (professional development books) or too much outrage (nonfiction about issues). Those have to be morning books.

My professional development book right now is Game Changer! Book Access for All Kids by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp, loaned to me by my friend and fellow blogger Shaye. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book. I try to be mindful that I shouldn’t only read PD books that speak to the choir, and anything by Donalyn and Colby would most certainly be speaking to the choir. But it’s really excellent and full of good research and it’s a quick read and one I could imagine suggesting my preservice teachers not only read themselves (of course!) but also buy for their principals to read.

My nonfiction book about issues is American Prison by Shane Bauer. It’s riveting, but a hard read. One of those man’s inhumanity to man kind of books that makes me so angry and so sad and so frustrated because one individual person doesn’t always feel like she can make much difference when it comes to sweeping social reform that’s needed. I don’t remember how I found out about this book.

I am trying to get into the habit of reading a poem every morning to start the day, and I have Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas by my side for that purpose. Her poems are challenging to me, demanding reads, and I find I understand more and enjoy more if I get into a rhythm and read several at once. I discovered this book when I was researching titles for Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge, and I knew I wanted to read it because she is Oglala Lakota and writes about the place where I live.

Then, there are the aspirational reads, books I haven’t started yet but plan to get to soonest. I’ll be spending Thursday in one of my preservice teacher’s classrooms, co-teaching 9th and 10th graders, and I want to read at least a bit of One Cut and Kiss of Broken Glass so I can book talk them, because I think they might be just right books for two students who are struggling to find the right book to read. I want to read Sayantani DasGupta’s The Serpent’s Secret so that I can booktalk it in my Children’s Literature course—and also because I sat with her at the Children’s Book Award Luncheon, and she was lovely and interesting and I vowed to go right home and read her book and here it is March and I haven’t even opened it yet. I have several books I’ve heard about on podcasts in my stack and I may or may not get to them before I max out on library renewals and have to return them.

Of course as soon as I clean this stack off the nightstand, I will only have made room for more books to take their place, and more books always do.

What’s on your nightstand?

30 thoughts on “What’s On Your Nightstand?: Slice of Life #sol19 4/31

  1. The Friend sounds like something I might like. I’m so glad you are enjoying the snail book! My nightstand and sofa stack are almost down to nothing as I start and abandon books left and right. No wonder I reread Jane Austen so often!!

  2. So many people have been recommending The Friend. I’d better add it to my list! Your other titles sound interesting, too. When will we ever read all these books?! Thanks for sharing (and the shoutout), Elisabeth!

    • It’s one I think many in our slicing community would like. I have no idea when we will read all these books, but that never stops me from acquiring more! It is a good kind of addiction and compulsion (or so I tell myself!).

  3. Unfortunately, anything I put on my nightstand somehow finds its way to the floor courtesy of our live in maid Miss Molly. She thinks the nightstand is a place for her to sit. What a great and varied collections of books you have going. I do not read in bed. Usually when I go in I am ready for sleep.

    • That happens to my books too! I have several cats who delight in knocking books to the floor–usually in the middle of the night when I’m sleeping. I would struggle to fall asleep without at least a few minutes to let the mind settle and calm in the world of a book!

  4. This is a great idea for a post, Elisabeth! I read The Friend earlier this year and was surprised at how much I liked it. I also have Game Changer, but I haven’t read it yet. Overall, I love learning about what you’re reading!

  5. I love your post and book recommendations! I may never finish crossing titles off my TBR list, but I love talking about books! Although I’m not a teacher, I love Donalyn Miller’s books about changing how to teach kids about books and reading! I might have to take a look at the new one!

  6. As someone who is regularly in the market for book I really appreciate this post. I found Long Soldier’s poems also challenging and I was motivated to write about one of them, 38, a few weeks ago because it was so striking.
    My own nightstand is stacked high with lots of book and even more of my best intentions. 😉

  7. Hmmm… Not sure I want to answer your question here because I might want to use this as a post. But… sneak peek: I’m reading Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson (Indigenous, Canadian, awesome) and I’m really really enjoying it. I have Game Changer but have put it off for now. Your other books sound fascinating – but my booklist from your IMWAYR posts is already SOOOO long. Still, those first two…

  8. Well, The Friend is on my nightstand, a gift from my son for Christmas. I love the Wild Snail, I read it after The Soul of an Octopus. You will have to wait for my nightstand blog for the rest.

    • How wonderful that you’ve read the Wild Snail book! I’d never heard of it and have no idea how my mom found it. Can’t wait to read your nightstand slice!! (Soul of an Octopus was wonderful!)

  9. I love this post. I find it incredibly interesting to hear what other people are reading. I had never heard of about half of the books on here, but will, of course, be adding them to my list of books I want to read. THE FRIEND and SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL are the two I will look for first. And like you, I haven’t picked up GAME CHANGERS because like you, I have thought it would be preaching to the choir. You make me rethink that decision. I want to do a post like this.

    • I am always interested in what other people are reading too. I will try to write a longer review of Game Changer when I finish. I want you to do a post like this too! I love reading about YOUR reading (and you introduced me to one of my favorite books from last year, The Newcomers).

  10. I’m glad I am not the only one with all kinds of books all over the bookstand. Like others, I am holding on to the details because there may be one of these posts in my future…but I will say I have two that I am reading on my nightstand, one that I am re-reading as my students read for the first time, a stack of 8 I pulled from my shelves to read “next” and a stack of 6 from the library that sneaked in ahead of those 8, because “ooh! This looks great! And it’s available right now!” (No book impulse control here.) And I have a stack of 16 Oregon Battle of the Books books that I have been reading as I am coaching my teams, and I am only partly through that stack. My stacks have spilled off the nightstand and spread out over the floor. Plus, I am reading two chapter books to/with my son. Whoo. I’d better go read now.

    • Oh yes, I totally forgot about the books I’m reading with my son! I could do a whole post on that–and maybe I will. I also take “nightstand” to be totally metaphorical because my stacks are all over the place! I so relate to the book impulses. So hard! I am returning a bunch of books to the library today and trying to avoid going inside and getting more because I already have too many at home! You know it’s bad when you’ve nearly maxed out your library’s 100 book max!

      • Oh wow! I have never gotten all the way to 100. When my son was really little, we would go to the library a couple of times of a week and always come home with tons of books. I try to always walk to the library, even when he was a baby and a won’t-ride-in-the-stroller-toddler, and so somewhat self limit by only checking out what I can carry. Sometimes I have to stop and rest my arms a lot on the way home. 😉

  11. Pingback: By the Book: Slice of Life #sol19 17/31 | the dirigible plum

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