You get settled in bed with a shiny new book. Before you crack open the cover you tell yourself you are just going to read a few chapters. You start reading and the next thing you know you've read a good chunk of the book. You avoid looking at the clock, telling yourself that you'll just read one more chapter. And then another. And then another. When you finally tear yourself away from the book it's after midnight and you know you are really going to hate the alarm clock in the morning. Sound familiar? Welcome to my world and the reason why I've had to completely revamp my reading in bed criteria.
Image Credit: Charles Williams on Flickr
I recently read an article in Maclean's, "The Secret to a Good Night's Sleep," which suggested one should put away all screens an hour before sleeping. I knew this -- it's part of the reason why I've refused to put a television in our bedroom -- but screens weaseled their way into our bed in the form of iPhones and my iPad. I hadn't been reading in bed for awhile, instead choosing to play games, watch Vlogbrothers videos and catch up on Strombo interviews. Yes, even though the tagline on my blog is "Books are Better in Bed" I hadn't been doing much reading there because too often reading was keeping me up at night.
I sat down and I thought about what works for me when I read in bed and what keeps me up at night. It was a pretty simple answer -- fiction in bed is bad for me. Fiction almost always keeps me wanting to read just one more page but the thought of never reading fiction in bed made me want to cry. I love fiction! I thought about it some more and realized there are some types of fiction that I tend to read in big gulps while with books I'm ok with a slow read. So, Edith Wharton is fine but Deborah Harkness is not. I can get cozy with Sherlock Holmes but I've had to boot Stephanie Plum out of my bed. I am not alone in this. Megan puts a lot of thought into what she'll read in bed.
"Suspenseful stories, emotional stories — these do not make for a pleasant sleeping environment. And as I have to read before bed every night (without fail), I have to carefully choose which books to peruse before it’s lights out. Anything high-stakes or high-drama will likely keep me up until the middle of the night, determined to finish, so I have to choose books that amble along at a gentle pace."
Megan lists some books she enjoyed reading in be and they all had one thing in common -- they were all nonfiction. I felt greatly encouraged by this because I love narrative nonfiction. It's something I can thoroughly enjoy and yet still not stay up until the wee hours of the morning to finish. When I look at all the nonfiction I've read over the last year, most of it has been read under the covers before I go to sleep at night. This is a major score for me because my bookshelves are full of nonfiction. I'm perfectly content borrowing most of my fiction from the library but I have a hard time resisting a nonfiction title in a bookstore. I consider it a bonus that it gives me a perfect excuse to read through Kim's list of nonfiction recommendations.
My nightstand these days is a mix of nonfiction and The Collected Works of Sherlock Holmes. I have to say, it's working. Mostly. I maybe cheated and went to bed with a Stephanie Plum novel one night last week. Ah well, nobody's perfect.
What do you read in bed? Are there any books you can't read in bed?
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