If My Nightstand Could Talk…

It's a great lamp to read by... now, if only I was as good a reader

If my nightstand could talk it would tell you I’m a schizophrenic reader (I bet you thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?).

My nightstand is an inherited piece made from Canadian Maple. It doesn’t produce syrup, but it is home to a Limoges porcelain lamp adorned with two very Fragonard-esque lovers. The lamp is likeable for both its campness and its luminescence — it’s a great lamp to read under.

That being said, I’m a notoriously bad reader. I’m slow. It takes me ages to get through an entire book. And since I like owning books so much, I tend to impulsively buy something I want to read, start reading it, only to put it down after another impulsive purchase. My gallery is on the same block as a bookstore. It’s like a heroin addict living on the same block as a clean-needle clinic. I walk the other way.

With all that in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are currently 4 books on my night stand, all in various stages of being read.

At the bottom is W. Somerset Maugham’s “The Moon & Sixpence.”

I’ve actually already read this one, but I’m re-reading it. Maugham’s insights into the feminine character provide endless source material. When I’m too tired to read much or write anything, I take a quick scan through the pages I’ve dog-eared and salivate over his talent — it’s just written so damn well.

Next is “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food,” by Paul Greenberg.

I’m not entirely sure how much of “Four Fish” I’ve actually consumed (ha! ha!). I bought it in part to help me with research for an exhibition…that’s right… an exhibition about fish… and in part because I’m a foodie who wants to better justify why I’ll only eat wild fish. I spot read this based on what I plan to have for dinner the next night…

One layer above that is “When You’re Engulfed in Flames,” by David Sedaris.

My bookmark indicates that I’m about half way through. I love everything Sedaris writes.

At the top of the pile is Megan Marshall’s Pulitzer Finalist book “The Peabody Sisters: Three Women who Ignited American Romanticism.”

The 400-page biographic tome has barely been scratched. I’m proud to say this one is a loan from a friend who read  my blog and thought “The Peabody Sisters” would be right up my alley. That’s right, someone read “They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband” and the first thing that came to mind was the story of three 19th century women who helped shape America’s greatest literary movement.

I guess I must be doing something right.

How Suburbia Changed My Monthly Reading Material

My UWS pre-furnished studio had little to recommend it (storage was surely lacking), but it was perfectly surrounded by bookstores

My studio apartment on the Upper West Side had few advantages. It was a narrow shoebox with terrible lighting and a kitchenette with a microwave that sat less than a meter from my pillow. I look back on it now with amazement that I didn’t develop any new phobias or a brain tumor.

The one advantage it did boast was location — it was perfectly positioned among several bookshops. It was part of my daily routine to drop in and check the newest hardcovers while I sipped on the most exquisite cafe au lait from the coffee shop next to my building.  After lingering over the week’s releases, I’d usually stroll out with the latest  New Yorker and New York Magazine, ArtNEWS or Paris Vogue, Self or Vanity Fair. What I could have saved by subscribing to these magazine, I’ll never know.

In the suburbs, bookshops live in malls or shopping plazas. It’s rare you can just stroll from your door into one, morning coffee in hand. Going to Barnes and Nobles requires planning — it had better be on the way home from the supermarket if I want to drop in for a browse. If all I want is a new New Yorker, I always have to ask: is that worth the parking fee?

In the suburbs, bookstores live in malls and shopping plazas.

But I suppose, while suburbia and its sprawl lack certain conveniences, when you move back to your parents’ house you gain the benefit of inheriting their magazine subscriptions. Who needs to tromp outside when things come to your mailbox?

Alas, when I moved out, my parents canceled my subscriptions to Vogue and Vanity Fair and replaced them with National Geographic, Martha Stewart Living, and Newsweek — a thoroughly grown-up assortment of publications. Generally, I found this new selection both educational and useful (Martha’s recipes are usually winners).

While most 25 yr old females are learning beauty and sex tips from Cosmo, I'm checking out AARP the Magazine. To each, her own

Most 25 year old females get their monthly beauty tips and a new carnal challenge sex position from Cosmopolitan, meanwhile I was reading about “Sex and the Empty Nest” and “Robert Redford at 74” in AARP The Magazine. Apparently, “Sex in your 70s can change — for the better…78% of couples enjoy at least as much sex a they did before retirement.”

Bet you Cosmo girls didn’t know that little factoid. I have an extra subscription card, if you’re interested.