What’s on my Nightstand?

the-romanovs-618fqfo-orlWhat’s on my nightstand?

I don’t actually have a nightstand.  What I have is a box of books by the bed. And now the books have spilled out of the box on to the floor, so the nightstand takes up about three feet of the floor. My nighttime reading lately has been The Romanovs: 1613-1918, a fascinating 744- page history by Simon Sebag Montefiore.  But, alas, my reading of The Romanovs has been interrupted by a SPORTS INJURY.

doctor-thorne-trollope-51nmupbvcxl-_sy344_bo1204203200_This sounds impossible, but I hurt my wrist by my two favorite low-impact activities.  During a week of reading  hefty classics by Trollope while  lying down, my wrist began to hurt from holding up the books.  Then over the weekend, I went on a very long bike ride with my speedy husband and it was a point of honor to keep up with him (well, sort of, since he slows down for me). Anyway, my wrist hurt like hell while pedaling up a hill and pressing down on the handlebars.

And so I’ve been icing my wrist, slinging ice into a ziplock bag and balancing it on top of or under the wrist.

Meanwhile, I am reading paperbacks so as not to irritate the muscles, tendons, what they may be. Here are three of the books on the nightstand.aird-stately-home-murder-51dwlzrcjjl-_sx331_bo1204203200_

1 The Stately Home Murder by Catherine Aird. I love Catherine Aird’s Inspector Sloane mysteries, and though I may or may not have read this one, published in 1970, I certainly like rereading as well as reading. Here is the Goodreads description:

On a stately home public tour, mischievous boy lifts the visor from a suit of armor – and finds corpse. Inspector Sloan and inadvertent joker Constable Crosby must sort out who stashed the body and why. Key is tea served to batty great-aunts. Clues also are in ne’er-do-well nephew and attempted blackmail.

2 Simenon’s The Shadow Puppet. It’s Simenon.  Everyone loves Simenon.  I don’t dislike Simenon, but I don’t love him. I prefer English cozies to police procedurals, and my experience has been the translations of Simenon are not always elegant.  Still, this new Penguin series, with new translations, has been praised, so perhaps I’ll really like it. What we do with our Simenons  is pass them around to  cousins e in Nevada, Iowa (pronounced Ne-vay-da ),What Cheer, Washington, or Muscatine.  And they pass it on to friends in Davenport, or Riverside.

simeon-shadow-puppet-233655273 Thomas McGuane’s The Bushwacked Piano. Thomas McGuane is a literary writer, a wild writer, and I love this  very nice Contemporary American Fiction original paperback, known as a yuppieback in the ’80s.  McGuane is wild, he is really out there, and he is much praised.  Here’s the Goodreads description.

As a citizen, Nicholas Payne is not in the least solid. As a boyfriend, he is nothing short of disastrous, and his latest flame, the patrician Ann mcguane-bushwacked-pianao-1439049270708Fitzgerald, has done a whose thing by dropping him. But Ann isn’t counting on Nicholas’s would persistence, or on the slapstick lyricism of Thomas McGuane, who in The Bushwhacked Piano sends his hero from Michigan to Montana on a demented mission of courtship whose highlights include a ride on a homicidal bronco and apprenticeship to the inventor of the world’s first highrise for bats. The result is a tour de force of American dubious.

Okay!  These are my choices.  I’m starting with a mystery.  And I hope I’ll be done with it before I go to bed.


Exhausted by the Nightstand!

If I had this house, I wouldn't need a nightstand!

If I had this  kind of shelving, I wouldn’t need a nightstand!

I am, yes, exhausted by books.

Not by reading books, but buying books.

On the nightstand, just in case I feel like reading them, are 17 books.  Do I plan to read all 17 at once?  One wonders.  The cats do not like the stack at all.  They are fond of jumping up on the nightstand.  The nightstand is actually a chest of drawers.   They jump up on the chest and nudge the books off the edge with their paws.

Lessing landlocked 328419I am already in the middle of five other books.  (Reviews to follow!)  So do I have time for 17 more?  Yes, I would dearly love to reread Doris Lessing’s Children of Violence series, but after looking at a few pages of A Proper Marriage , I realized that I should skip to her fourth novel, Landlocked, in which Martha Quest becomes disillusioned with the Communist movement in South Africa during World War II.  Landlocked is a masterpiece.  At my age, I need the masterpieces.

The guy on the cover looks as though he's wearing a Star Trek uniform!I  cannot understand why I purchased Mary Renault’s The Charioteer, described on the Vintage edition as “a bold, unapologetic portrayal of male homosexuality during World War II.”  I am not sure I need another gay classic:  I already have two of Radclyffe Hall’s books on a “sub-nightstand.”  After Virago reissued The Charioteer a few years ago,  a reviewer at the TLS raved about it,  and, if I remember correctly, considered it a classic.   If I could get past the first chapter, maybe I’d agree.  N.B. Doesn’t the guy on the cover look as though he’s wearing a Star Trek uniform?  Is this a novel about a gay Trekkie?

Grau Th eHouse on Coliseum Street 13577050I thought  the former Washington Post critic Jonathan Yardley had recommended Shirley Ann Grau’s Pulitzer-winning The Keepers of the House, but it turns out he was lauding The House on Coliseum Street.  Oh, damn, I bought the wrong book!

music at long verney warner 51tBSNUFFlL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I discovered Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes at a used bookstore when I was in grad school, and went on to enjoy many other of her books. I adore Kingdoms of Elfin, her dark collection of whimsical fairy tales. Somehow I have never read The Music at Long Verney, another collection of stories. Will I finally read it this summer?

Imagine 13 more…

Shall I shelve my 17 books?  It gets ridiculous.

What do you have on your nightstand?  Is yours as useful (ha ha) as mine?

The Nightstand Problem, or Piles of Books

Pile-of-BooksOnline life has changed our reading habits.

There are fewer bookstores.

The indies crumble.

Amazon is dominant.

And the nightstand bulges with more books than ever.

Before the internet was invented, I was so busy reading books that I seldom bothered reading criticism, except on Sunday mornings when I luxuriated in The New York Times Book Review.  Due to the glory of the internet,  we can now read about books  all day without actually reading the books. I know what Ursula K. Le Guin said about David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, though I haven’t read The Bone Clocks.  I peruse articles about books in translation at  the TLS, savor the tough reviews by the daily critics at The New York Times and Washington Post, and try not to be gobsmacked by incendiary book news.

There are  superb blogs that concentrate on older books and classics as well as the latest publications. I try to catch up with blogs a couple of times a week.

The problem is, the more reviews we read, the bigger the book pile grows.  Everybody asks, What’s on your nightstand? I don’t  have a nightstand; I have piles of books. Chances are if I’m reading War and Peace, I also have a Nancy Pearl Book Lust Rediscovery and an Agatha Christie on the go.  My bet is that many  of you also are dealing with your nightstand problem, and your non-linear book-reading problem.

The book pile or nightstand problem is a common trope at blogs.

Danielle at A Work in Progress expresses it perfectly.

The state of my reading pile has really been bothering me for some time now.  Things have shifted about somewhat since this photo was taken–a few new books added, a few removed, maybe even a few have been finished (though not many at the rate I seem to be reading this year–what’s going on with that anyway. . . ).  With the year completely speeding by I feel I need to take serious steps to reduce the piles and try and get them under control before a new reading year is upon us (and no plans at all in mind as of yet–may have to keep it that way, though I know it is unlikely to happen).  I know we are still months away from 2015, but (scarily) it’s not as far off as it seems.  And already we are midway through September.

Dovegrey reader recently mentioned a pile of books.

The very first book from my Fifty ‘Unread’ Books shelf, The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard, started in early July, when I really was deep into Port Eliot preparations but in need of some space from this big pile of books that I seemed to have been tripping over for months, and some respite from looking at all those Martin Parr photographs…a quick armchair trip to sunny Naples, that’s what I needed.

Thomas at My Porch wrote a blog about acquiring 31 books in five days.

I tweeted this morning that during the five days that Simon Savidge (@SavidgeReads) stayed with me here in Washington, DC, thirty-one books managed to find their way into my apartment. Borrowed, bought, given, and free, I somehow managed to acquire thirty-one books in five days. Sue Parmett (@SueParmet) wanted a list of the titles. That is just the kind of pesky question I would ask and it seemed liked a great topic for a blog post.

Aren’t you relieved that someone is acquiring even more books than you are?

What has caused so many of us to go in this direction?  Is it something to do with the internet?

How many books are on your nightstand?  I have six on my bed, and don’t dare count anything else .