Friday, May 03, 2013

On the Nightstand

Let's take a look at what's in my reading lineup.

Coleridge: Early Visions, 1772-1804 by Richard Holmes  I am reading this now. You'd think Coleridge would offer a wealth of material to a biographer, what with the drinking, whoring, joining the army under the fake name Silas Tomkyn Comberbache, (the name for my next dog), and becoming a "pantisocrat*" which, I am sure you will be disappointed to learn, has nothing to do with wearing fancy pants.  All this, AND he was hot, in a puffy sort of way, but the bio is a bit dull.

Summertime by Rafaella Barker.  A loan from Becky and the sequel to Hens Dancing, which was an earlier assignment.  I am reading this now too and it is a nice, funny counterpart to the Coleridge biography.

The Good Apprentice by Iris Murdoch.  I am reading my way through all of Murdoch's books and this is the next one on the list.

Three Doors to Death by Rex Stout  I am also reading my way through all of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books.  Formulaic and less intellectually stimulating than Murdoch but entertaining in its way and Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's assistant, hilariously refers to himself as "getting erect" when he stands up.

The Faber Book of Letters edited by Felix Pryor  A collection of letters written over the course of history, beginning with Sir Philip Sydney to Edmund Molyneux in 1578 and ending with Franklin D. Roosevelt to Albert Einstein in 1939.

Getting the Message: The Story of the British Post Office by Christopher Browne.

White House Diary by Henrietta Nesbitt.  Nesbitt was the housekeeper for the Franklin Roosevelts.  She was a famously terrible cook and it has been suggested that Eleanor deliberately allowed her to make the White House meals as unappealing as possible as a passive-aggressive punishment for Franklin's infidelities.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.  A permanent denizen of the nightstand, although I have read three or four pages since I last did one of these posts.

Flea Market Chic: The Thrifty Way to Create a Stylish Home by Liz Bauwens and Alexandra Campbell.  Technically, has no business on the nightstand, as it is not serious reading and I usually put my picture books on the floor.  This book has pretty pictures, but can hardly be considered an example of thrift, with its $8,000 Aga cookers and rooms full of exquisite trinkets that one's decorator's assistant found.

Death in the Garden by Elizabeth Ironside.  Another loan from Becky.

Taffy's Tips to Teens by Dolly Martin (1964).  I was obsessed with this book when I was twelve and found it recently after a decades-long search.  It will be getting its own post.

What's on your nightstand?

* You may be asking, "What is a pantisocrat?"  Coleridge coined the term himself.  It's a sort of 1790's hippie.  Coleridge planned to set up a utopian community in Kentucky, but only got as far as a walking tour of Wales.  Holmes cautions:  "Coleridge created the word from the Greek roots pant-isocratia, an all-governing society; not of course from the Latin root panto-mimus, meaning a comic dumb-show." That's a relief, but I still want to know: where do pants fit into all of this?


  1. I KNEW pantisocrat from this year's spelling bee list!
    I'm reading "1776" and "The 19th Wife" in tandem. And a book about greenhouses with a boring title.
    Bummer about Coleridge's book not being more fascinating.

  2. I've got a stack of new cookbooks by my nightstand as well as "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" that I'm previewing for my daughter, who brought it home from a book sale. Also working my way back through the Hitchhiker's Guide Trilogy while picking Stephen King's Dark Tower series where I left off last summer when I abandoned it for Game of Thrones.

  3. I loved the Stout books when I was in High School and went through them all in a mystery orgy.

    The Murdoch book is good although her sociopathic viewpoint always disturbs me.

  4. Green Girl, I'm impressed that you're familiar with the pantiscocracy! 1776 is on my reading list too.

  5. The Summer Without Men, which I'm about to finish but am not enjoying, and Silas Marner, which I've just started and am loving!!