Ever get that feeling? That you’re tired, but you just can’t get to sleep? I know I do. There are a lots of different things you can do to try to remedy it. Just stay up. Think. Get up and watch some TV…or read.
I choose the later or more accurately, I’m in the habit of reading before I go to bed. But you have to be careful, you need to select the right things to read. For me, thrillers or horror stories are out. Too exciting. And they have the potential to be too gripping. Long novels or anything to dense is out too. Lately, I’ve settled into short snippets of works with self-contained ideas or plots. And it helps if they’re dreamy. Here’s what’s on my bedside table right now.
The Book of Disquiet
This is my go-to book for the late evening. It’s a great for this. It’s dreamy, comes in small chunks and is a HUGE book. You can just pick out a random chapter and start reading, there’s no narrative. This “factless autobiography” by the imagined assistant bookkeeper from Lisbon is a strange masterpiece. By terms poetic and nostalgic, dreamy and realistic, it’s full of yearning for a future the narrator knows he will never grasp. Its gloomy atmospherics of early 20th century Lisbon are also stirring and memorable. I can only recommend it in the strongest possible terms. Especially, if you need some reading before bed time.
Epictetus is one of my favorites. I love his key message: what is in your power is the key to happiness, you must let everything else go. These are really (let’s stretch things a bit here) ancient recordings of his lectures given to his students in Athens. They didn’t have the Internet or iPhones back then, apparently, so they just had to write as quickly as they could using papyrus and pen. And one of his students, Arrian, did just that. You can hear Epictetus speaking in these lectures, sometimes arguing with himself. Sometimes with his own students, minor politicians or random sycophants who drop in on his lectures. And each chapter is a self-contained snippet that reflects Stoic morals and their worldview in very short bursts. It’s another thing you can dip into at will and then set aside. Again, highly recommended.
That’s it. All for now. Hope you consider these for your nightly readings. See you next time,