Bedside Book Snooping: Photos of Our To-Read Piles

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Everyone always wants to know what everyone else is reading, in our experience — if only to get some good ideas for ourselves. This month, in lieu of our periodical staff reading list, we decided to take a more visual (and slightly more voyeuristic) route, and asked Flavorpill staffers to snap a photo of their to-read piles — or whatever pile of books happened to be haunting them. Apparently as a group, we enjoy books with Big Important Questions for titles (we found more than one instance of both Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? and the galley of Wilhelm Reich’s Where’s the Truth? ), but other than that, we span the spectrum of messy and neat, paperback-crazed and hardcover-happy, with everything from design magazines to biographies to the hot, slim new fiction release sleeping next to our heads. Click through to snoop through the piles of books in a few of your devoted Flavorpill staffers’ bedrooms, and then let us know what you own bedside table looks like in the comments.

Claire Cottrell, Design Editor

From the bottom:

apartamento, issue #08 apartamento, issue #09 A Moveable Feast , Ernest Hemingway Retreat from Love , Colette (my journal) French Cinema Since 1946, Volume Two: The Personal Style, Roy Armes

apartamento is one of the best interiors publications on the planet. For all you bookstore lovers, there’s a great article in issue #09 about Donlon Books in London. Check it out. I’m halfway through A Moveable Feast, and — already — without a doubt, I can say that it’s one of the best books about creativity and Paris ever written. I haven’t read Retreat from Love yet. That’s next. From the inside cover of French Cinema, something Francois Truffaut said in 1957: “The film of tomorrow seems to me even more personal than a novel, individual and autobiographical, like a confession or a private diary.” Weirdly, it ties together everything on my bedside reading table.

Danielle Brock, Marketing Manager

First of all, I don’t really have a bedside table, so I use this handy radiator instead.

From right to left, you have:

1. My metal camping cup that I like to drink water out of. It makes me feel “rustic.” Note: I have never been camping.

2. Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner. I’ve never really been into fiction, but I recently spent a whole lot of hours in an airport and the only book I could find for less than 1000 rupees was Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. I really enjoyed it and decided it was time to give fiction another go. Our sales designer Geoff recommended Leaving the Atocha Station for me, since he knows I’m an art and travel junkie. He had me when he described it as a “sort of ex-pat Gatsby-esque novel.” I just bought it and haven’t started reading it yet.

2. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. This is my in-between-books/pick up-when-I’m-tired-of-the-more-serious-book-I’m-reading book. I lifted it from my mother’s library and like it because it’s a collection of Sedaris’ hilarious stories about everything from eccentric neighbors to his recreational fly catching. I’m about halfway through and will probably put it on hold now that I have the Lerner book.

3. Kiki de Montparnesse by Catel & Bocquet. This is actually a graphic novel, telling the life story of the French model/actress/muse of 1920s Paris. It was a gift from my boyfriend and lives on the radiator and as we’re reading it together, chapter by chapter, when we have time. It basically involves all my favorite things: Paris, 1920s artists, and fierce female lead.

4. A mighty bright book light. Because no beside table = no bedside lamp 😉

Shana Nys Dambrot, Flavorpill LA Contributor

Here’s mine, with an explicable cat toy… not sure how that got there.

It’s a pretty hefty pile, with some nearly-missed classics, conspiracy theories about JFK and Tim Leary, literary love affairs, thoughts on the American character from eccentric secular and spiritual points of view, art collecting, and the cherry on top is a bit about how the brain works best when it’s being distracted. Cheers!

Jason Diamond, Flavorpill NYC Deputy Editor

Here is my messy desk that is right next to my bed.

Russ Marshalek, Social Media Director

[Ed. note: we think Jason and Russ might be secret literary soul mates.]

Geoff Mak, Sales Designer

Tinkers — I read a majority of this in one sitting because I was high, and my brother said “well if you’re too high to do anything, read Tinkers because it starts with a hallucination.” Such is true. It’s from the point of view of a dying man, hallucinating what I imagine to be the reversal of time. Deeply inspired by Marilynne Robinson’s work, much of the prose is metaphysical, sensual, and gives the effect that Emerson must have had in mind when he wrote about the “transparent eye.” You disappear while reading it.

Battleborn — The best story collection I’ve read all year, period. As the daughter of Paul Watkins, one of the members of Charles Manson’s “family,” she explores her personal history while referencing the mythology of Nevada as a whole. Of all the the books in a given year that get compared to Joan Didion, Watkins actually earns it. “The Past Present,” previously excerpted as “Gold Mine” in The Paris Review, is alone worth purchasing this collection.

Hotel Iris — Ogawa has the poetry, weight, and resonance that I always want from Haruki Murakami and continually never get. Less stylized than the latter, Ogawa’s prose is stripped to the grotesque, sexual fixations that haunt Japanese society. The chairman of the investigation committee for the Fukushima accident remarked recently that the problem of Japanese culture is “our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to sticking with the program; our groupism; and our insularity,” and it is exactly that which Ogawa confronts in her fiction.

How Should a Person Be? – Haven’t read it yet, but James Wood single-handedly sold me on this one.

Leah Taylor, Flavorpill Managing Editor

Triburbia , up top, is what I’m reading now. I replaced the cover so y’all could appreciate the design, my literary taste, and also identify the book. Beneath it is a fabulous book that I pick up between novels. It’s hilarious. When there’s a blow-job sequence in literature you can laugh about with your dad, you know it’s good. Under that is 2 Don DeLillo books a bartender (hi, Dan!) at Botanica lent me when he learned I hadn’t read any big D. Have to say, I wasn’t a fan of Great Jones until I finished White Noise and better understood his style. Following those we see Tropic of Cancer . It’s next to the bed; feel free to jump to your own conclusions. Then: The Satanic Verses . For when I want to feel like I’m really getting something done before I fall asleep. I have only read about 2 chapters at a time, over the past several months. Bottom book: See above.

Bonus: this is what is on Leah’s fiancée’s bedside table. It is pretty much the manliest bedside table we’ve ever seen.

Emily Temple, Literary Editor

Here are the books that are in progress/up next, perched on a table that once lived in my father’s dorm room. Also that is my mug.

1. Several of my friends and I are participating in #occupygaddis, though I am woefully (hundreds of pages) behind. I love it, it feels like life, but I’m also distracted by all the other goodies so easily within reach.

2. Emma Straub’s upcoming novel, which I cannot wait to get into.

3. I still haven’t really read the Englander book. I keep meaning to, but I have been somehow slightly suspicious of it. But since it won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, I have replaced it firmly, with firmness and grit, into my to-read pile. Do it, Emily. You will love it.

4. Somehow I missed it growing up, but I’ve had Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina on my list ever since I heard Justin Torres gush about it at a reading at Greenlight months ago.

5. This book is hilarious. And also kind of devastating.

6. My roommate whipped through I Am Forbidden in a matter of hours and then left it for me on the kitchen table with her approval. I am saving it for a rainy day.

7. The new Michael Chabon! You are so juicy and exciting.

8. I am putting off reading the recently-out in paperback Great Night until I read The Children’s Hospital . It’s hard to wait, so I’ve hidden it until this one makes it off my bedstand.

9. The only reason Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? is not here is because I finished it yesterday. Highly recommend.

And then, of course, there’s always this: my highly organized books-to-consider shelf, which is only the bedroom-sized version of the much less organized one that overflows at the office.