Bedtime Reading 14/31 #sol23

Bedtime reading brings out my inner Goldilocks. A bedtime book can’t be too exciting or too slow. It can’t be too demanding or too fluffy. It can’t be stimulating: I do not want to be up past my bedtime because I can’t stop reading–or thinking. But I still need to be engaged. It can’t be too heavy to hold comfortably in bed, and it can’t be too difficult to hold open (some paperbacks with hard library laminate covers simply don’t want to open anymore). I’m even picky about font size!

My bedside table is stacked high with books that seemed promising but ultimately didn’t make the cut.

Comfort rereads are good for bedtime reading, and so I make my way through Hilary McKay’s Casson family series and Jane Austen’s novels every year or two. Books about books and reading are always appealing. Even better when it’s a comfort reread about reading like Anne Fadiman’s Ex-Libris or Nick Hornby’s Housekeeping vs the Dirt. Sometimes I can do books about writing. Kate Zambreno’s Drifts, a novel about trying to write a novel, was almost too erudite for bedtime reading but ended up working. Diaries tend not to overstimulate, unless the diary keeper is especially annoying (Helen Garner’s diary was perfect bedtime reading until I became so irritated by her). Elizabeth Strout’s Lucy Barton novels have been perfect, as have all of Becky Chambers’s sci-fi novels (but especially the Monk & Robot series).

I’m currently in between bedtime reads and will need to try something new tonight. My current contenders are Rebecca Thorne’s You Can’t Spell Treason without Tea, billed as a cozy fantasy; Amina Cain’s A Horse at Night: On Writing, which has the loveliest cover; and Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Questions for You, which is probably too much of a page-turner to qualify as appropriate bedtime reading for me but has the potential to break a reading slump.

Maybe none of these titles will be the perfect bedtime read, but luckily, there is no shortage of books in my house in case these three don’t work out.


Trish at Jump Off; Find Wings gave me the idea to write about bedtime reading. Check out her post Words for the Wee Hours.

Photo by Pixabay on






17 responses to “Bedtime Reading 14/31 #sol23”

  1. Suzanne Avatar

    Oh my goodness, I love this! A bedtime book most definitely needs to be a Goldilocks book! I was thinking the Lucy Barton books as I was reading your slice and then you included them. I loved Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger as a bedtime book! Thanks for giving me a new way to sort which books I read when!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Adding Ordinary Grace to my list! Thanks for the recommendation. The Lucy Barton novels were really perfect bedtime reading.

      1. Suzanne Avatar

        I just started reading, “Hello Beautiful” which is Oprah’s new selection. I’m hoping it will be “just right”!

  2. WOWilkinson Avatar

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I bought Nothing Much Happens for my wife this Christmas. (It’s also a podcast.) It’s specifically written to improve sleep. It’s a series of cozy vignettes about a town where nothing much happens. It’s designed for the reader to return to in their mind if they wake up with their thoughts swirling.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Nothing Much Happens sounds perfect! That’s really what I want in bedtime reading: a story in which nothing much happens and the writing doesn’t ever call attention to itself! I’m going to have to check out the podcast too. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. natashadomina Avatar

    Oh, man, now I have MORE books to add to my “want to read” list. I know what you mean about bedtime books being a more particular sort of niche than books you’d read during the day. They also can’t be anything that might give me bad dreams. No WWII historical fiction, for sure. I have a snow day today and I spent the morning reading the children’s book Leonard (My Life as a Cat) by Carlie Sorosiak, about an alien that comes to visit Earth and finds himself in a cat’s body. It’s light and sweet–and about cats. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh wow, I’ve got to get my hands on Leonard right away–sounds right up my alley for sure! And you’re right: I definitely don’t want anything intense or too sad at bedtime either. It’s hard to pinpoint that just right book that isn’t going to interfere with sleep in any way!

  4. arjeha Avatar

    Nothing beats a good bedtime book. Not too heavy (I don’t mean weight), not too technical, Not too thought provoking, not too edge-of-your-seat. Something that is relaxing and leaves you feeling good so that you can get a good night’s sleep. Those books are out there.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      You’ve nailed it perfectly in your description! I’m so glad we can keep finding books that fit the bill.

  5. mccoytmh Avatar

    I love your description of a Goldilocks book. That is it! I never thought of it that way before. I just read what I read, and then pay the price with weird dreams!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That’s an aspect of bedtime reading that I forgot to write about–reading books that then cause weird or distressing dreams! So many things to avoid at bedtime!

  6. Amanda Potts Avatar

    Every year I leave March with a list of books to read, and I think that your lists pretty much start mine every year, too. I too often fall for the page-turner at night and have to force myself to turn off the light. My latest series is the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, but I don’t think it would make your bedtime cut!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha, no the Temeraire series will definitely keep me turning pages past my bedtime, BUT I’ve read them before, so maybe they’d work as comfort rereads! I’m going to try! (Actually I think I only read the first 3 or so? I’ve been meaning to circle back and finish the series.) (And same for book lists–I always end up with titles you mention that I absolutely have to read.)

  7. Trina Avatar

    I love your description of using your inner Goldilocks! It’s perfect. I, too, sometimes struggle to find the JUST right book to read before bed.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Since I know what I’m looking for, I feel like it should be easier to find? But somehow it isn’t!

  8. mschiubookawrites Avatar

    You are so spot on about that Goldilocks bedtime book! I now do audiobooks with a timer, but it’s still hard.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Audiobooks with a timer is a great idea!

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