Cozy reads for bedtime
January 9, 2019 3:38 PM   Subscribe

I have trouble making myself go to bed, and I think it might help to have something brief and comforting to read before turning out the light. I'm seeking suggestions for: prayers for nighttime, thought-provoking snippets from any genre, blessings, stories -- anything that promotes a feeling of well-being and isn't more than a couple pages/~1,000 words.

I would read something longer over multiple nights, but I don't trust myself to stop at an appropriate time and hit the hay.

posted by delight to Writing & Language (20 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Lin Manuel Miranda wrote you a book!
posted by gideonfrog at 3:45 PM on January 9 [8 favorites]

via MeFi Projects: A thousand and one tales.
posted by Little Dawn at 3:50 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I keep a stack of Chicken Soup for the Soul books next to my bed at all times.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 4:03 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

You might try the Oxford Book of Prayer
posted by jgirl at 4:12 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

A few possibilities:
There are some lovely, and pretty sophisticated children's picture books out there. The text may be short, and spread out over a few pages, but it can be a lovely way to unwind, especially when the illustrations are good as well.

Love by Matt de la Peña
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsberg (pretty much anything by Chris Van Allsberg)

Another option: audiobooks.
I run them off my phone, via either the library app or Audible. You can set a timer and either fall asleep mid-listen, or after the section has ended. Childhood favorites are good for that, because it's a pretty mellow mood and you won't be afraid to miss something of the plot.

Let me know what you think of the picture books/audiobooks idea, and I can come back with more specifics.
- SR, who is a librarian by day, and lives for these kinds of questions.
posted by SaharaRose at 4:30 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Laurie Colwin's collection of short essays, Home Cooking, is one of my very favourite books ever. Her essays are about food, yes, but about more than that: home, family, comfort, cooking, culture, unexpected challenges, unexpected joy, contentment. I love them and I think they would provide that cozy feeling you are looking for. There is a second collection also, called More Home Cooking.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:13 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]

Rumi poetry?
posted by greermahoney at 5:27 PM on January 9

I love the novel Einstein’s Dreams; each chapter is very short and self-contained and could work well for you, I think. The Biblical Book of Psalms might be another route.
posted by epj at 5:40 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]

The stories in All Creatures Great and Small do the trick for me.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 5:45 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]

David Eagleman's Sum is a collection of short works (I hesitate to call them stories) about potential afterlives. Each of them is a delightful little thought experiment, and they're each 2-3 pages long.

And a delightful gardening book from 1929, The Gardener's Bed-Book, seems like it was designed for end-of-day relaxation. I haven't done all 365 readings, but a few here and there, and they're very sweet and calming.
posted by witchen at 6:33 PM on January 9

I sometimes reread children’s books I love because I’m so familiar with them I don’t need to worry about remembering what I previously read and they’re comforting. Winnie the Pooh, the Wind in the Willows, Narnia, that kind of thing.
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:44 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]

OMG, I love Laurie Colwin. Her books are so good.
posted by chocolatetiara at 6:45 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

An off-center suggestion: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. Each chapter is lovely blend of personal anecdote, folk wisdom/history, and practical advice. It can be started and finished anywhere, and it's smart often funny and she gives one a sense of control and hope for the next day :-)
posted by Caxton1476 at 7:47 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

I have used cookbooks for this purpose. I especially like the ones that have a theme, stories or anecdotes woven through. I highly recommend MFK Fisher's writing!
posted by LaBellaStella at 3:29 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]

Wondering about Essays of Elia and Chesterton's essays, such as All Things Considered. Lamb's Elia essays are fairly warm though not always totally happy. Chesterton's essays are more thought-provoking but bad things do not usually happen. If sexism and racism trouble you, Chesterton may be problematic. You could also try Woolf's Common Reader essays, which are usually fairly undemanding and heavy on story-telling.
posted by paduasoy at 5:15 AM on January 10

Night Prayer (aka Compline) is relatively short and specifically meant to be said prior to bedtime. It's a different set of prayers for each night and repeats weekly. There are several variations on the text; one book I have uses poetry (Gerard Manley Hopkins and the like) alongside the hymns.
posted by jquinby at 6:03 AM on January 10

Letters are great at bedtime because they're generally short and end quite neatly, often with some expression of good wishes. Letters of Note is a terrific general anthology. Some single-author collections I've liked a lot are those of Elizabeth Bishop (One Art), Henry James, and Thomas Merton. (Merton's Wisdom of the Desert is in short sections too, and it may be up your alley.)
posted by miles per flower at 6:20 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]

So this doesn't fit your 'short snippets' requirement, but 100% fits cozy read that promotes well-being - have you read the At Home in Mitford series? It's about a small-town rector and his daily life, and it's pretty much the definition of cozy and life-affirming, with some nice things to ponder as you go to sleep.

There's definitely a religious element, but it's on the 'be kind to everyone' side of the spectrum vs. 'repent your sins or you'll burn in hell'. It might be difficult to stop after just a few pages, so might not fit the bill for you. Unless you've already read it, in which case it would be perfect to re-read at night!
posted by widdershins at 9:17 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]

With a lifetime's terrible habit of reading far, far too late, even reading "boring" calm works doesn't get me to shut my eyes at a reasonable time. I do drop off to a recording of The Wind in the Willows read in a very gentle whisper by Cori Samuels, for the purposes of falling asleep.
posted by clew at 4:46 PM on January 10

I love this question and have often thought about asking a similar one.

I'm not totally sure if this is up your alley, but nature writing can be perfect for this. You can probably google something like "[your area/region] + nature writing" and find some authors and track down their works. I have this volume of old Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper columns (so they are literally like, 2 pages long) written by a local naturalist during the mid-20th century. Imagine if a kind of dudely version of Rachel Carson just wrote a column that was like, "We were out in the woods tracking turkeys and noticed the geese migrating. Here are a bunch of fun and cozy facts about geese" It sounds boring and that's lowkey kind of the point - it's calming, lovely, and if you're down with visualizing things, it's a very nice thing to slide into dreamland with. And it's short enough that by the time you start dozing off, you're pretty much done with it.

I pull it out whenever I am going through a rough sleeping patch and it works really well.
posted by mostly vowels at 3:08 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

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