7 Books We Hope to Find in Our Hotel Dresser Drawers

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There are some things every hotel room should have — small bottles of shampoo in the shower, pens to write postcards with, a functional alarm clock, and clean towels. These are a given. Almost all hotels you will stay at will also have a Gideon Bible in each room’s set of drawers, and that’s not an exaggeration: Since the organization that prints them (Gideons International) was founded, they’ve distributed almost two billion across the world. (What about Qurans, Siddurim, the Vedas, or the Bhagavad-Gita? We should have those, too, but I guess that's another conversation.)

Besides religious texts, however, I think there are other books that hotels should consider stocking. After all, Bibles are great for the extremely devout (or extremely bored, I suppose), but we can do better, gang.

Here are seven that I think are worth having around: books meant to inspire your travels, pull you towards home, and remind you how fun it can be to jump around on a bed that isn’t your own. While I certainly encourage shampoo-stealing (and help yourself to the pens!), it's best to leave these books where you found them and let your room’s next tenant enjoy.

The Shining by Stephen King

Jack’s an alcoholic writer who moves his wife and son to Colorado when he becomes the caretaker of an isolated hotel during its offseason. The hotel is haunted and Jack goes crazy and, well… things get weird. The book is as terrifying as the well-known movie, and will surely give all hotel guests thrills and chills when read under the covers. (It’ll also remind you that no matter where you’re staying, your accommodations could be worse.)

Eloise by Kay Thompson

Thompson’s iconic Eloise (adorably illustrated by Hilary Knight) lives with her nanny in the Plaza Hotel, charming and terrorizing other guests as she uses the upscale setting as her personal playground. This classic children’s book will keep your littlest travelers entertained and will remind even the crankiest of kids how exciting a night’s stay at a hotel can be.

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich spent a few months working a number of minimum wage jobs to see if it was possible for workers to live comfortably on those paychecks (spoiler: it’s not). She held several jobs during her experiment, two of which were housekeeping positions (she lasted only one day at one of them). Ehrenreich’s memoir is interesting and well-written, but should be required hotel reading for all guests: It’ll certainly make you remember how hard-working the men and women cleaning up after you are (and, hopefully, will inspire you to leave them bigger tips).

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Late-night reading of this sexy tale (starring a frustrated, cheating wife) will surely put you in the mood for a romantic rendezvous with the hottie down the hall. No, we’re not condoning on-the-road affairs, exactly, but… whatever, I'm not going to dig myself deeper. The book is hot.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Christopher McCandless went into the wild to discover and challenge himself, but his journey ended tragically (he’s widely been reported to have starved to death, but Krakauer and other researchers are still unsure) and he’s been criticized for being unprepared and for not letting anyone know of his whereabouts. His coming-of-age story has struck a chord with many, though, and hostel-hoppers might feel a particular kinship with the adventurous traveler (but will remind you to call home).

Up in the Air by Walter Kirn

Kirn’s novel (the basis for the George Clooney movie of the same name) follows Ryan Bingham, a businessman who spends more time traveling for work and staying in hotels than he does living at home. Fans of amenities — little soaps! Continental breakfast! Falling asleep to the TV without stressing about the electric bill! — will envy him and homebodies will pity him, but both will nod in agreement as they read Kirn’s observations on hotel living.

A Strong West Wind by Gail Caldwell

Caldwell’s memoir about growing up in the 1960s is especially concerned with the ways in which place shapes who we become. Caldwell’s prose is gorgeous (“Like a million cowards and trailblazers before me, I had mistaken being gone for being free”) and her poignant thoughts on missing home (“Some moment on a silent afternoon — a cast of light, some gesture by a stranger — can fill you with a longing that, by the laws of desire, will always remain unmet”) will make you want to pack up, check out, and head home as soon as possible.