Reading 7,069 Pages: A Love Story

My next-to-the-bed books, as measured by a neat growth chart found in Jez Alborough's children's book Tall, are 3 feet high (and rising).

I’m a compulsive before-bed reader. When I finish a book, I love to think about it and reread a few pages, so I leave it on my bedside table. Other books get stationed there to be read next. And very occasionally I set one aside partway through because I absolutely have to read something else for a while.

This has led to a rather extensive pile-up on what, quite frankly, is a very small piece of furniture. Today I counted 23 novels–not including the stack of recent reads that has migrated to the hat-box corner.

It’s time to dismantle the stacks–and perhaps to buy another bookcase.

Before I do so, though, here’s my list of titles, in excavation order, starting with the pile closest to the bed. While the first three titles are my most-recent reads, the others are more or less random–and some are still waiting for my full attention.


First stack:

Let the Great World Spin — Colum McCann

A Visit from the Goon Squad — Jennifer Egan

The Great Stink — Clare Clark

Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War — Edited by Catherine Clinton and Nina Silber

The Ladies of Grace Adieu — Susanna Clarke

The Widower’s Tale — Julia Glass

A Family Daughter — Maile Meloy

Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women — Mary Rechner

How to Write a Damn Good Novel — James N. Frey

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It — Maile Meloy

When All Is Said and Done — Robert Hill

The Jane Austen Book Club — Karen Joy Fowler

Digging to America — Anne Tyler

Second stack:

Tinkers — Paul Harding

Trask — Don Berry

Away — Amy Bloom

Finding Beauty in a Broken World — Terry Tempest Williams

Then We Came to the End — Joshua Ferris

Eventide — Kent Haruf

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers — Betsy Lerner

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — Stieg Larsson

The House on Fortune Street — Margot Livesey

The Lace Reader — Brunonia Barry

Yes, those books equal 7,069 pages. Stacked together, that’s 3-plus feet of reading material that has inspired me, encouraged me and kept me awake far too late in the night. Thanks to all the writers who worked like crazy to bring their own thoughts, characters and visions into the world for people like me to devour, love and keep close at hand.

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
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