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.
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