I can’t be trusted with a page-turning novel at bedtime. It does not matter that I’m an adult with a job to do and children to care for. Give me a good book with a bit of suspense, and I’ll stay up long past midnight to finish it.
So I’ve given up reading page-turners at bedtime. Instead, I have stocked my bedroom shelves with slow books. Over the years, several slow books have become favorite bedtime companions. Here are a few of my favorites.
The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume One I love reading the journals and letters of famous writers. In Woolf’s journals, you get complete access to the author’s daily life, her connections with the Bloomsbury Group and her reflections on writing. The experience of reading Woolf’s journals felt a bit like time travel. I almost felt like a resident of the early 20th century.
Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom edited by Leonard S. Marcus. This book collects the delicious letters of the great children’s book editor Ursula Nordstrom. If you consider yourself a children’s book geek, you will adore this book. Through these letters, you will connect with many of the great voices in children’s literature including M.E. Kerr, Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, and Louise Fizthugh. (And fair warning, you may have trouble putting this down and going to sleep. It’s that interesting.)
One Art: Letters by Elizabeth Bishop. Selected and Edited by Robert Giroux. For many years, I have loved the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. I was delighted to find this riveting collection of her letters. Kirkus reviews said this about the carefully selected collection of letters: “More spontaneous, garrulous, and revealing than her published poetry or prose, … ” The letters offer an intimate portrait of the writer, her struggles with health and loneliness, her great love for her partner Lola, and fascinating details about her daily life.
Among Friends by MFK Fisher. I’ve heard about food writer MFK Fisher for years. Just a few weeks ago, I plucked this volume out of my bedtime stack. In this collection of essays, Fisher talks about her early life as a child in the mostly Quaker town of Whittier, California. Both entertaining (I love the chapter about batty women) and intriguing (you’ll get a clear picture of California in the years before the Great Depression), Fisher writes about an era and place long gone.
The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. I still have my copy of The World of Jeeves from more than 20 years ago. Good thing! Used copies of the book are quite pricey. Still, find any volume of Jeeves stories for your own bedtime stack. I can think of little better than curling up in bed and reading about the antics of Bertie Wooster and his gentleman’s gentleman, Jeeves. Prepare to laugh.
Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite book for bedtime reading? I need more to add to my stack! Leave your comments below!
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