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What’s on your nightstand? A collection of new and old finds


Sean Rogers/The Olaf Messenger


Nightstands matter so much to me that I created one from an Ikea three-tier cart and a cutting board for my dorm room this year. I am an avid reader and often read before bed. There are always at least three books on my nightstand: a book I am reading slowly, my current read(s), and a book I can reread at leisure. 


My current slow reads are Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric” and Grace Cho’s “Tastes Like War.” A lot of the books I read slowly are nonfiction books that incorporate creative writing. “Citizen” is a book-length poem. I enjoy reading it a few pages at a time to better absorb Rankine’s insights into the assumption of citizenship in “post-race” America. I am re-reading “Tastes Like War” as the author is coming to campus in a few weeks. The first time I read it was for class, so I am enjoying taking more time to sit with the emotional weight of this memoir about the interconnectedness of war, trauma, food, family, mental illness, and imperialism.


“The Troubles With Us: One Belfast Girl on Boys, Bombs and Finding My Way” by Alix O’Neil is the next book on my nightstand. It’s compelling and funny, making it the perfect read during the school year. The book is a memoir about growing up in Belfast during and after the Troubles. My roommate gifted me the book. 


I am a chronic rereader. I reread my favorite books so much that I keep a copy of my all-time favorite book — “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton — in my car’s center console, just in case. Right now, the re-read on my nightstand is “Dead-End Memories” by Banana Yoshimoto. The short story collection’s bittersweet stories about finding connections and healing after traumatic incidents move me. Returning to these thoughtful, quiet stories comforted me throughout the transition into and back out of spring. 


I like to think of the books that I read as friends. The book on my nightstand gives a look at who I am, which feels more intimate than anything I can say out loud. What I read shapes me profoundly; in sharing these nightstand books, I share myself.

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