Bedtime Reads to Match the Finest Nightwear

February 23rd 2018

You’ve got the pure cotton pyjamas and the crisp white sheets – but what about your bedside table? Is there a teetering pile of unread tomes dating from last Christmas? Or nothing at all, bar an iPhone? If either sounds like you, it could be time to update your bookshelf.

Many of us would like to read more, but struggle to find the time. And when we do, we don’t know where to start. There are so many books out there, and it’s easy to choose the wrong one and waste hours slogging dutifully through something we don’t enjoy.

At Iona Debarge, we firmly believe that books for bedtime should be pleasurable. Try reading one you like for half an hour every night before sleeping. It will help your brain switch off from the day, and give it a rest from that sleep-inhibiting electronic blue glare.

Here are our recommendations of books to enlighten, enrich and entertain:

Immerse yourself in an acclaimed series like Elena Ferrante’s bestselling four-part Neapolitan Novels, which follow the lives of two best friends from their 1950s childhood growing up on the outskirts of Naples through to adulthood. Or savour Edward St Aubyn’s piercingly acute satire of the English upper classes in his five Patrick Melrose Novels.

Witness an agile mind at work in Geoff Dyer’s most recent essay collection White Sands. Blending travelogue, art criticism and memoir, the essays move from Los Angeles to New Mexico, Gauguin’s Polynesia to Norway’s Arctic fringe – often profound, sometimes hilarious, and always unexpected. Or read Rebecca Solnit’s timely new collection of ‘further feminisms’, The Mother of All Questions, in which she calls for an end to silencing, a peculiarly female phenomenon that has shrouded sexual violence for years – until #metoo.

Be beguiled by an offbeat novel such as Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, in which Selin, a Harvard freshman with a fertile imagination, begins a relationship via email – in 1995, still a novelty – with Ivan, a student from her Russian class. Or try The Adulterants, the latest from Submarine author Joe Dunthorne, a London-set tale of a thirty-something man struggling to rise to the challenges of adulthood.

Discover the remarkable possibilities of short stories by reading the master of the form, Booker Prize-winning author George Saunders. His most recent collection, Tenth of December, paints a startlingly original, singularly empathetic portrait of humanity. Or devour hot debut Sour Heart; Jenny Zhang’s frank, funny and subversive stories are vividly voiced by the daughters of Chinese immigrant families in nineties New York.

Fall in love with the classics all over again – now sporting stylish new jackets, such as these beautiful editions of Virginia Woolf’s masterworks. Or explore the equally well-dressed novels of her erstwhile lover Vita Sackville-West. What could look prettier on a bedside table?

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