Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What's lurking at your bedside?

I have this theory that a quick snoop round the reading material on people’s bedside tables will give you a pretty good insight into their personality, though do exercise a bit of caution on this – anyone trying to psychoanalyse Husband might baulk at a pile of Yachting Monthly next to the American Girl ‘Feelings Book’ and a battered copy of something entitled ‘Mr Tick the Teacher’. Rather than evidence of a split personality it merely indicates that his side of the bed is regarded as a legitimate resting place by his daughters.

I am a vain reader in that I attempt to stack the bookshelves in public view with worthy tomes and to have my friends consider that Proust rather than Picoult is my preferred choice but my bedside table tells the honest truth. I have just grabbed the books stacked there and here’s the list – for I must also confess I am a serial reader by which I mean I generally have a number of books on the go at once, rather than implying a devotion to the ‘to be continued later’ variety of literature.

1. ‘Red Dust Road” by Jackie Kay, a Scottish poet and author who writes about growing up in Glasgow as a black child adopted by fabulously alternative white parents and her search for her Scottish birth mother and her African father and family. This was one of those books that I enjoyed so much I didn’t want it to end. I particularly loved her descriptions of her adopted mother, a woman whose joie de vivre comes across very strongly.

2. “The Little White Horse” by Elizabeth Goudge, I missed out on reading this one as a child and have kept coming across it in other people’s lists of their favourite books, so bought it for Drama Queen 3 who has now passed it on to me with strict instructions to read it and I have to say I am quite enjoying a magical world that doesn’t involve people keen to eat each other – yet.

3. T.S. Eliot Selected Poetry – there’s always got to be one aspirational book in the pile and I am slowly working up to it. Have just bought myself the most marvellous bit of stationery, a pad where I am supposed to list the habits I want to break or more positively encourage, and then give myself ticks for each day – ho ho. Perhaps I could add reading a poem a day to the list. The nasty cynical side of me thinks that most likely the list and TS Eliot will still be gathering dust next month.

4. ‘Au Revoir’ by Mary Moody – subtitled ‘Running Away from Home at Fifty’ which is about someone who abandons husband and family to live in France for six months – this was given to me by a friend, am slightly concerned that there may be a hidden message here, and am waiting for a wet afternoon when I am feeling particularly annoyed with nearest and dearest to start it.

5. I’ve just spent all afternoon lying on the couch reading my current favourite, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Teenagers”. This was also given to me by a friend and there is definitely a message there. It’s an absolutely gripping read (if like me, you are in the era of dancing the teenage tightrope) by New Zealand author and clinical psychologist, Nigel Latta. If 10 years ago you had a well -thumbed copy of ‘Toddler Taming’ by your bed, then this is one for you. Personally I always find it is a great relief to discover you are merely one of a crowd wrestling with crowd control issues. I’m adding ‘Punctuation’ to my good habits/bad habits list, as one of his mantras is that mothers in particular are bad at applying the full stop when talking to their teens. As I read I can hear myself doing it, moving from a comment on state of bedroom to a full on rant about general untidiness, failure to remove clothing from stairs, nail clippers going missing, empty mugs in rooms, homework on floor, world war three, failure of dog and/or any member of the family to behave in a rational way and so on. In impolite company it would be called nagging, and his advice is, don’t do it. Don’t be tempted to insert commas in your speech, if it’s a choice between a full stop and a comma go for the full stop - and STOP.


  1. Ooh! I love these! Ok, lay your psychoanalysis on me (unless it's bad - then don't tell me)

    Next to my bed I have:

    1. A sudoku book (This is embarrassing)
    2. A daily Bible
    3. A travel book about an Aussie living in Rome (it's rather ho-hum so I find myself sloggin through chapter by chapter)
    4. Wicked & Son of a Witch (also slogging through the end)
    5. My current book on the go - A Breath of Snow and Ashes - book five in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (also slightly embarrassing as mixes historical romance with sci-fi and time travel).

    On second thought... perhaps I'm not sure I want to know what you think!


  2. Hi Mimi - nothing embarrassing about the Sudoku - I've got one in my handbag! The travel book about an Aussie reminded me of a great book I read the first time I came to Australia "American Downunder" by Peter Ruehl who sadly died this week - you should try and get a copy as I am sure you would laugh out loud as I did.

  3. Thanks for the recommend! I am always on the prowl for new books...

    Still waiting to read yours ;)

  4. Hmmm... Just looked for that book online and I can't find it.. Checked Google and Amazon - is it a more recent book?

  5. Actually very old book in the sense I think it was first published 1992 - may well be out of print - will see if I can hunt down my copy for you.

  6. Thanks! Don't worry if you don't find it - I'll also keep my eyes peeled for it in the second-hand book shops I so love to frequent - I'm bound to run across it sooner or later :)