bedside table book
Maybe you have one of these books. Either an old favourite, or something easy-to-read on your nightstand to help you relax before bed. It’s the former for me: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Since placing it there a couple of months ago, I hadn’t needed it – years ago, I perfected the art of putting myself to sleep by sheer force of will.
But last night, I couldn’t sleep.
I tried everything. Breathing exercises. A glass of water. A piece of cheese. I sat up with my husband, P., and made plarn while he played Ark. Even with one of our cats napping contentedly on my leg, I couldn’t find my way into sleep.
P. went to bed around 1 am. I tried to sleep then too, but my eyes wouldn’t stay shut. Maybe it was because Carrie Fisher had died and I was thinking about mortality. Maybe I had too much coffee, or the Christmas chocolate was keeping me awake. Scrooge would blame it on a speck of jam.
So as a last resort, I took The Brothers K. off the nightstand and read a chapter. I’ve read it through so many times that I found myself looking forward to certain moments and apprehending what would come next. But at the same time, I was noticing new nuances about the characters and how they related to each other.
It reminded me a little of our Hardcover episode on Reader’s Block. That re-reading our favourite books can sometimes be a gateway back into loving the act of reading again. It is indeed like meeting an old friend, and remembering the last time you met, or the first time you met, and what your life was like then. The Brothers K. holds all those many memories for me.
And, ultimately, it did succeed in satiating my mental energy. After another chapter or so, I closed the book and slept.