10 Books To Read Before Bed Each Night

by Crystal Paul

You’ve just had a crazy day, and now that you’re calling it a night you need some way to wind down. Or maybe you’ve just finished a completely mundane day full of errands and paperwork and an endless cycle of e-mails, and you’re ready to curl up in bed with a book that will make your dreams fantastical enough to make up for all the snooze-worthy chores you had to push through all day. Either way a good book is your ticket to a nice peaceful sleep or awesome dreams that’ll cure your work week-blues.

There are studies that show that reading can help reduce stress, and a some experts have spotted that some of the most successful people read before bed. And the National Sleep Foundation suggests that unplugging and picking up a good old-fashioned physical book could give you a better night’s sleep. Who can argue with them?

But it's not like you just want to pick up any old book before bed to reap those positive benefits, what’s the fun in that? You want a book that’ll liven your dreams without keeping you up in suspense or help you get your chill on, without boring you to death or making you cry yourself to sleep. These 10 books are some great options, just try not to accidentally stay up all night reading.

Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith

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Tracy K. Smith paints the most beautiful images with her poetry. For those who don’t have an hour before bedtime, a single poem from Life on Marswill take you only a few minutes. (Well, actually maybe a little longer, because you’ll probably want to read that one poem a couple of times.) Smith’s poetry is so darn pretty, even when dealing with tough topics, you’ll just lose yourself in the words a and drift off into the pretty images she gives you.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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You probably wouldn’t think of going straight for the medieval fantasy genre to help you relax and get some good sleep. Too much clashing swords and dragon slaying to bring the nerves down, right? Well, The Name of the Wind is in a class of its own. It’s still got all the swords and adventure to give you awesome dreams where you’re the heroine adventurer, but it’s also written beautifully and takes its time with the narrative so you feel surrounded by the world in the story. You’ll drift off to dreams that’ll make you forget all about your life as an office drone.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

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Persuasion is a quiet novel with only a small fistful of #VictorianNobleProblems (is that a thing, yet?) that will make you feel like you just took tea with one of your close, smart friends and have an evening of painting and piano practice to look forward to. Then, of course, there’s the infamous slow-burning romance to make you all wistful and dreamy-eyed.

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

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This is the book that’ll paint your dreams vivid and colorful. Rushdie’s descriptions of the magical settings in Florence and India will have you eager to close your eyes and imagine these gorgeous landscapes for yourself. Throw in a bit of magic, mystery, and intrigue, and you’re in for a night full of dreams you won’t want to wake up from.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

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It’s a story about loneliness, love, loss, family, and reconnecting, and it’s just what the doctor ordered for all readers addicted to beautiful books that hit you in the feels. A History of Love will make you sad cry, then happy cry, then confused cry, and finally fall asleep satisfied to have gotten it all out. Just a warning: You might be puffy faced the next day.

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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To the Lighthouse is a bedtime winner for readers who like to rest with their heads full of complex ideas and metaphors and philosophies to pick through. You know who you are. You’re the woman who wakes up in the morning with a start because you sorted out some theory you’ve been playing with on the complexity of perception or something in your dreams. Hey, supposedly problem-solving in your sleep is totally a thing.

Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas

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Our Tragic Universe ’s narrator Meg Carpenter is definitely one of those sleepers who problem-solves in her sleep. Only she’s playing with more new-age ideas, questioning what is real and unreal, wondering at the possibility of magic and fairy tales, and scrutinizing how stories work. It’s very much a writer’s kind of novel, but might be just the thing to put you to bed with good ideas so that you just might wake up with some solutions for your own work.

Two Citiesby John Edgar Wideman

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Two Cities is a feel-good novel that will help you de-stress and go to bed relaxed. There are very real problems presented in its story of an urban community on its last legs, but it’s a story of redemption and peace and love and compassion.

The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty

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Welty wrote beautiful short stories, ranging from the fairy tale-esque to stories about contemporary events like the assassination of Medgar Evers to horror and picaresque stories of her native South. With such variety in one volume, you can go to bed with whatever kind of story you want, and you can probably even finish some of the shorter ones before you finally pass out.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

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Because sometimes a good slow-burning classic is just the thing you need to slow yourself down a bit. Bleak House will take you away from all the screens and emoji and tweets of today and back to a slower era where you can get to know a big cast of characters in depth and share their daily experiences with them. Bleak House is the kind of novel that finds the beauty in the mundane and can help you come to terms with your own daily life, so you start the next day fresh and full of appreciation for the little things.

Image: carolina.prysyazhnyuk/flickr