What should we read to each other at night?
March 27, 2006 12:47 PM   Subscribe

We like Milne and Sandburg--what else could we read to each other at night?

My love and I used to read to each other at night, but we're a bit particular about the material. It has to be warm, and nice, pleasant and intelligent. Short stories are better than long novels, and we really like things to turn out well--Even Lemony Snickett was too much of a downer after a hard day's work.

Pooh really fulfills these qualities admirably (and if you think it's just for children, read it again). Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories were also more-or-less perfect (Except the story of the skyscrapers who decide to have a child. That was sad). However, we've read through them all too many times! Thre must be other examples of Nice Literature out there?
posted by Squid Voltaire to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Billy Collins edited the Poetry 180 books. And his own books of poetry are good, even if you think you don't like poetry.
posted by bilabial at 12:50 PM on March 27, 2006

The Little Prince
posted by junkbox at 12:57 PM on March 27, 2006

It has to be warm, and nice, pleasant and intelligent.

Yes, but does it have to be "for kids" in the same way that Pooh is "for kids?"

Otherwise, I'm compelled to recommend Missing Links, which is warm, nice, pleasant, intelligent and incredibly funny, wrapped in a hilarious, cynical shell. I read this to someone once, and it went over very well.
posted by frogan at 1:05 PM on March 27, 2006

Tove Jansson's Moomin books.
posted by Marquis at 1:22 PM on March 27, 2006

Whitman, of course.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:49 PM on March 27, 2006

Oh, thank you for this question. I have looked long and hard for books that adults can read to one another. My SO has read to me The Princess Bride, which was fairly good, and now we are trying to wade though Watership Down, which is not such a good choice (unless you really like to hear about every single plant in the English countryside).

Asking a bookseller or librarian for ideas just gets you strange looks. I will be checking back on this thread to see what you brilliant people have come up with.
posted by thebrokedown at 2:02 PM on March 27, 2006

James Thurber. Stories like "The night the bed fell" and "The day the dam broke" are a hoot in a slightly more adult, but still warm and fuzzy fashion.

Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat is also a great favorite of mine for reading out loud. It is technically a novel, but it is mostly digression; lots of silly stories having not much to do with the main narrative.

And of course Wind in the Willows. Not split into hermetic stories/chapters like the Pooh, but still a great read aloud (and again definitely enjoyable by adults)
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 2:13 PM on March 27, 2006

Short stories of Richard Brautigan and/or Donald Barthelme [be picky about the Barthelme, most stories by Brautigan will do, though some are on the sad side] are good little things to read. The poetry of James Tate and ee cummings are often good and the nonsense rhymes of Edward Lear are really excellent, if too short for most bedtime reading. We've been reading a few Bill Bryson books to each other, specifically A Walk in the Woods and whatever his travel one was about America. They're both upbeat enough and wrap-uppable after a chapter that they make for good sequential reading. If you're in for a longer haul, I've also made bedtime reading out of Winter's Talk [Helprin], Little Big [Crowley] and One Hundred Years of Solitude [Garcia Marquez, sometimes really sad though] and Stanislaw Lem. Italo Calivino is pretty good for night time reading, as is Borges, but only if you pick the stories well, some are really not easy to read, or to listen to.
posted by jessamyn at 6:23 PM on March 27, 2006

We've read The Phantom Tollbooth, Mistress Masham's Repose, some of the Moomin books (although they can get pretty bleak), Poetry Out Loud, The Twenty-One Balloons (anything else by Pene du Bois would be great too) recently. I second Thurber's short stories. For poetry, how about Shel Silverstein?
posted by nonane at 6:38 PM on March 27, 2006

Travels With Alice by Calvin Trillin. He's a terrific humor writer and this particular book is about, well, traveling with his wife and two daughters across Europe and the Caribbean.

I can't say it's Milne-ish-- Trillin definitely writes for grown-ups-- but it's a lot of fun to read.

And I second Quinbus and nonane on the Thurber. Anything he does is hilarious. And the cartoons!
posted by woot at 6:46 PM on March 27, 2006

Fantastic suggestions--thank you! Thurber sounds very promising, we'll look into him. I had never heard of Crowley before, and while I'm not sure how good it will be for bedtime reading, it certainly looks fantastic.

I also find it very interesting how many of these suggestions are already favorites (I bought Katya The Apple That Astonished Paris for our one year anniversary a while back, and we both love Jerome K. Jerome and Calvino).

Two clarifications: although I appreciate the poetry suggestions, Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories are not really poetry. Secondly, although I agree that Pooh is very... soft around the edges, I'm leery of calling it a book "for children". Curious George is for children, as is My Pet Goat, perhaps, but Pooh is as deep as you want it to be.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 8:50 PM on March 27, 2006

Jessamyn beat me to it. My fiance is reading me Brautigan's Sombrero Fallout in installments over the phone (he's in London, I'm in Melbourne) and it's just lovely.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:49 AM on March 28, 2006

Roald Dahl's kids books are witty and really fun to read aloud.
posted by mediareport at 7:43 AM on March 28, 2006

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.
posted by stavrogin at 12:34 PM on March 28, 2006

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