Earlier this year I was in a real reading rut. I was tired of Plato, but I really needed to read Plato to keep up with my coursework. Reading anything superfluous made me feel guilty for not reading Plato so I ended up not reading anything at all.

The thing that saved my reading life was… nighttime anxiety. THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING. I couldn’t fall asleep. So I would put my tablet on night-mode and choose from a collection of books with prose simple enough to require only a light mental focus, and plots familiar enough to make me sleepy rather than too-invested-in-how-this-turns-out wakeful. I thought it’d be fun to share my list of favorite books both for falling asleep and for falling back asleep after waking up at 3am (every night! WHY BODY WHY) :

1. Chronicles of Narnia. I know them so well that they are the easiest books to read and I can skim when I just need something for my brain to do to distract it from the too much it obsesses over when it should be sleeping. Now that my theology has changed, however, I no longer get the same comfort and joy from reading them, and since my nostalgia has worn off the writing has been revealed to be quite atrocious at times. So I’m a little torn on these. Nonetheless, they have been good sleepy go-tos.

2. Sh*t My Dad Says and I Suck At Girls by Justin Halpern. So funny, surprisingly insightful at times, and of course easy. Lots of swear words for profane dreams, and short chapters so the reading feels low-commitment.

3. Bright Lights, Big Ass, Such a Pretty Fat, and My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster. Fun, silly, sometimes touching. They’re also the only Lancaster books on my tablet, so…

4. The Martian by Andy Weir. This flirts with the line of “so sciencey that I kind of feel I need to focus as an awake human” but since I’ve read it several times I’m able to glaze over the sciencey parts when I am sleepy. It’s a great story, and enveloping myself in Watney’s Martian isolation helps me feel ready for sleep. When the thought of such extreme isolation doesn’t terrify me, that is. It’s a risky choice.

5. Hyperbole and a Half and Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh. Funny and dark. Sometimes it’s a little heavy for solitary nighttime reading, but the Idaho bits and stories of her pets always warm my heart.

6. Space by James Michener. Apparently my nighttime reading has a space theme. This book is long and winding and so, so satisfying. Interestingly, the length is the same kind of helpful as the shortness of Halpern’s books. As I read Michener, I rarely feel eager to “finish” but just let it come as it comes. Also, Michener is fantastic.

7. World War Z by Max Brooks. PHEW, we’ve veered away from space to the world of zombies. I love this anthropological approach to a zombie apocalypse. The premise is ridiculous enough that it ends up being a low-stakes read.

8. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Short stories, always culminating in satisfyingly tidy endings. Perfect for lulling myself to sleep, trusting that Holmes will figure it all out.

Let me know what you read to fall asleep, and what you look for in a nighttime book!

One thought on “What I read to fall asleep

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