Good Bedtime Books

I’ve been trying to read more, and I’ve always been given advice about reading before bed to wind down. The problem is, a lot of the books I’m trying to read aren’t exactly easy reads, and when I’m climbing in bed already a bit sleepy, it’s hard for me to really absorb what I’m reading. For me, I think it’s actually less about the nature of the content and more about the structure of the language itself.

Do you have any specific kinds of books you like to read before bed? Any recommendations?

Maybe it’s cliche, but Haruki Murakami captures the sensation of being halfway between sleep and wakefulness better than any other contemporary novelist I’ve read; Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was a bedtime staple for me for the months was reading it.

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I read two major books in the past semester for bedtime purposes.

bell hooks is an excellent, accessible writer, and “All About Love” was a great choice for before-bed non-fiction reading.

The Southern Reach trilogy was amazing, but gave me very very strange and unsettling dreams. Highly recommended, but not for sleepy times.

I actually read Annhilation as a late night book! I’ve left the the other books in the series back at home, though


Whilst the later books are more standard, long fiction, the first couple of books in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski are collections of short stories (The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny). The tales can be a little intense, but they’re written in easily digestible prose and being broken into short stories, they make for good pre-bedtime reading sessions.

I find that Douglas Adams has a very pleasant and affable way of writing things where everything just kind of comes off as a trifle. It doesn’t beg for deep analysis, it’s not difficult to comprehend, and it’s often very funny and clever. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the Hitchhiker’s Guide series (although I’d venture to guess the Venn Diagram of people on a video game message board and people who have read Douglas Adams is a circle) but they’re a really fun jaunt that lull you into a nice fuzzy feeling.

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I read Susanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” as a bedtime book like this. It takes a bit to get into but it’s overall a nice easy read and will last you a while because it’s thick, but never felt over long.

If you are into short stories and fantasy, I would recommend the work of Lord Dunsany. In the Land of Time and Other Fantasy Tales is a nice introduction and he writers very brief, dreamlike tales, that make for great bedtime material.

I just finished Ottessa Moshfegh’s “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” and as much as I think I despise the final page of that book the rest is a fairly brilliant balance of satire and sardonic observations that remained fresh even after countless bouts of repetition. It is, after all, a book where a woman sits in her apartment and pops anti-depressive/sleep-aid medication for days at a time.

Obviously a huge TW for anyone who might struggle with medication abuse and ableist language, and the character herself has personality like used sandpaper, but I weirdly found it to be a really compelling page-turner in the evenings.

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While I loved the last page, gotta agree with everything else said here. Moshfegh is generally incredible.

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