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What’s on your nightstand?

Posted in Things We Love

Old bedOn mine: an ancient alarm clock (still works); two men’s watches (I still wear a watch and like it chunky); an onyx ashtray (it reminds me of the person who gave it to me); a beaded elephant (from Africa); a pen (you never know when I might wake up and need to write); a Tiffany jewelry box (empty); the latest UK Marie Claire and a stack of books. Not that anyone ever asked.

There is a lovely feature in the New York Times Book Review in which well-known authors are asked questions ranging from what books they are currently reading; what influenced them when they were children; their favorite genres etc. and I am always surprised and a bit intrigued that I hardly ever know any of their current reads. Is it because they sit and think of something smart and obscure for their answers?

I am even more intrigued by what other – regular – people read because it is usually the way I come across little gems I wouldn’t otherwise find. I often ask people, even strangers I just met, what they are reading – it helps when conversation is a bit stunted and to suss out what kind of person you are talking to.

There was a time when I couldn’t concentrate on more than one book at a time but, now, I tend to veer between two books, and have a stack ready for when I am done with either. Hence the bounty on my nightstand. Sometimes I will start a book and decide, a third in, it is not quite right for the time in my life, and put it back until my mood matches the story. Or is open to it.

nightstandCurrently in rotation are:

Claire Messud – The Emperor’s Children. Found in the hospital’s library and brought home because I love Claire Messud’s intricate writing and this is her most famous book. On literary and pretentious New Yorkers pre-9/11. Excellent.

Emma Donoghue – Room. I am almost always behind on best sellers and it took a friend who pushed this into my hands to convince me. Needless to say, I haven’t seen the movie yet so no spoilers please.

Lev Tolstoy – War and Peace. In a translation I have been looking forward to for a long time and because our friend Eddie convinced me to watch the BBC mini-series and I was struck by a need to re-read it. If you are thinking “masochistic”, I might have to concur. I do love that book, though.

Umberto Eco – Numero Zero. As much as I find book clubs tedious potlucks dressed to impress, I was roped into this Italian book club by one of my best friends. And this is what they picked. A thriller by Umberto Eco is probably not worth your time. The Name of the Rose is or, better still, his essays on Italy are a lot of fun.

Elena Ferrante – My Brilliant Friend. I finally got the whole collection of four books, in Italian, and I am embarking on the voyage. Elena Ferrante is even more famous in the US than in Italy and her novels, recounting a friendship between two women from childhood to old age, have gathered accolades. Need to see what the fuss is all about. Elena Ferrante is a nom de plume for a Naples based writer whose identity is known only to her editor: trying to figure out who she really is has become a national (and international) pastime.

And what is on your nightstand?

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25 Comments

  1. It is fascinating what different things we all keep on our ‘bedside tables’ (which is the British for ‘nightstand’).

    Obviously I have a reading light, then there is a box of tissues, a phone, tube of Aesos hand cream, a phial of cuticle oil, spare reading specs, two pens and a notepad, and several books. I usually have a carafe of water and a glass there too at night-time. The books at the moment are ‘Confucius and the world he made’ by Michael Sherman (which is excellent, beautifully written and researched); ‘The Registrar’s Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages’ by Sophie Hardach (a debut novel with a quirky title); ‘Wigs on the Green’ by Nancy Mitford (one of her earliest novels now back in print0; and last but not least ‘Persiana – Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond’ by Sabrina Ghayour. I love reading recipe books in bed and this one is fabulous, I’ve recently made three of her recipes.

    Thinking about my Mum’s bedside table I realise it is much the same, but she has a beautiful old china jar of dog biscuits for our beloved Border Terrier Lochy who lives with her whilst we are in China..and she has different books of course.

    March 28, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I must go back to Nancy Mitford, I haven’t read her in such a long time. You are not the first person who told me she reads recipe books in bed – I love reading recipe books but they never make it to my nightstand; I am afraid I would go to sleep feeling suddenly peckish.
      Love Aesop cream…

      March 29, 2016
      |Reply
  2. Wish I had a wind up clock on my night stand-there’s such rhythmic comfort in the ‘white noise’ they produce. That said, beyond the usual cyclical reading materials (mostly this month’s current mags and garden catalogs) some of my favorite photos of family and dearest keepsakes ‘watch’ over me slumber. It’s such a joy to wake up and see them and begin the day a-fresh.

    March 27, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I love waking up and seeing my little red elephant, right next to the alarm clock: it always brings a smile. Wind-up clocks, I am not so sure – last time I slept in a room with a ticking clock, I ended up locking it in a drawer. Guess I am not used to that sound anymore!

      March 29, 2016
      |Reply
  3. You’re reading Room! I liked it, especially because I went in without knowing what it was about, so it was a surprise. Let us know what you thought of it when you’re done.

    In my nightstand there’s an alarm clock (that more often than not has no working batteries), a hand lotion, two books that I’m taking forever to pick up, my Kindle, a lamp with some earrings on them, and allergy medication. Shall I mention the used tissues that sometimes find their way there on runny nose nights?…

    March 25, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Just because we started the conversation a few posts ago: I used to have a constant runny nose at night (and a heft of tissues on my nightstand at all times). Magically, since I gave up sugar, the post-nasal drip (medical term for night and morning runny nose) has disappeared completely! Just saying…

      March 25, 2016
      |Reply
      • Really?! That might do it for me, I’ve dramatically decreased my sugar intake and I have indeed reduced the times I need to resort to tissues – I just never thought they were related. Now here’s a great reason to stick to it!

        March 26, 2016
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  4. I got very pulled into “Room”. Glad you will read it before the movie. Both are great but the book is written in the voice of the boy which makes it especially poignant.

    March 25, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      The friend who gave to me told me she stayed up late into the night to read more. It’s early pages for me still..

      March 25, 2016
      |Reply
  5. It can be quite an interesting insight into someone else’s life, hey?
    I actually don’t keep books on my nightstand because I don’t read in bed, but I do keep pen and paper handy (I think after your suggestion?), and my phone will be nearby because I use it as an alarm clock.
    I’d love to read ‘War and Peace’ one day, but I’ve probably got enough epics in my reading list this year, so might wait until next year to tackle that one…

    March 25, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      War and Peace is a winter book – so you have time. And my suggestion, for the first reading, is to skim over the lengthy war and battle descriptions and move on to the rest of the story. There is always time for re-reads (unless you are really into war tactics).

      March 25, 2016
      |Reply
      • Ohh ok. Thanks for the tip! There was probably a time in my teenage years (when I studied history in school) that I would’ve been really interested in war tactics etc, but now I’ll probably skim through all that stuff

        March 26, 2016
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  6. Penni
    Penni

    Hand cream, foot cream, lip balm, a digital clock, a modern lamp, a pen, sleeping pills, a bottle of water and books, books, books…

    March 25, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      And what are you reading at the moment, pray tell? Your suggestions are always interesting.

      March 25, 2016
      |Reply
      • Penni
        Penni

        I am reading McEwan – The Children Act and I am loving every word. Next will be Potok – Danny l’eletto. Following your suggestion I ordered Elena Ferrante -“L’amica Geniale”. I will let you know.
        Happy Easter dear friend.

        March 26, 2016
        |Reply
      • camparigirl
        camparigirl

        Love, love McEwan, one of my favorite – for the last 25 years I think. Haven’t read the Children Act yet but I must. Buona Pasqua tesoro!

        March 26, 2016
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  7. A gorgeous brass lamp and an antique looking old style alarm clock (from M&S, of all places). Wonder what that says about me?

    March 25, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      It says you have good taste and abhor clutter!

      March 25, 2016
      |Reply
      • Let’s hope it says nothing else:)

        March 25, 2016
        |Reply
  8. Curious to hear what you think of Ferrante. I “read” I Giorni dell’Abbandono in Italian. My Italian friends told me it wasn’t going to be an easy read, and they were correct. From what I understood, I enjoyed it but will read her Naples series in English.

    On my nightstand, re-reading Dorothy Dandridge’s autobiography. So sad. Have Joe Bastianich’s autobiography (in Italian) regarding how he came to embrace his roots, which was co-written by a friend.

    When I done with those, will read Mr. Splitfoot, which a friend passed on to me the other day and Things Fall Apart. The latter is a book that has been on my must-read list for a while.

    There is nothing else on my nightstand because I moved into a new apartment and haven’t decided on lamps or artwork yet.

    Buon reading!

    March 25, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Thanks for reminding me that I still haven’t waded through Things Fall Apart and I should. I didn’t know Joe Bastianich had an autobiography – will hunt it down in Italian. I am always look for good culinary art inspirations – but Ferrante is next. Will let you know.

      March 25, 2016
      |Reply
  9. I’ll wager Claire Messud has Kamel Daoud’s book “The Meursault Investigation” on her night stand. The book on mine is Andrew O’Hagan’s “the illuminations.” Otherwise little else save the reading lamp and a land line. Plenty of stuff in the drawer though including an eye bandage for when the other bed lamp stays on past midnight.

    March 25, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      You have now mentioned it twice, so I must order The Meursault Investigation. The Illuminations rings a vague bell so will check it out online. My other half uses one of those camping headlights to read when he wakes up in the middle of the night – Christmas gift perhaps? (Thanks for catching the missing S).

      March 25, 2016
      |Reply
  10. A digital clock radio that my boyfriend gave me when I was 19. A picture of my husband and I when we first started dating. Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project (read many times). Michael Singer’s Untethered Soul (started a half dozen times but never finished). A small pile of hair elastics that I take out of my hair before I go to bed and forget to put away. My sleep mask that I can not love without since hitting menopause.

    March 25, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      You win. Your digital clock is older than mine. I have read bits and pieces of Gretchen Rubin’s book but never the entire thing. Probably useful to keep around as a reminder. Not familiar with Untethered Soul so thank you for the suggestion and will check it out.
      Now that I am taking estrogen blocking pills I am waiting for the lovely menopause side effects. Maybe I will start investing on a mask.

      March 25, 2016
      |Reply

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