Bedtime Books

Edith Sitwell once compiled a book called Planet and Glow-worm, subtitled "A book for the sleepless." The selections, comprising snippets of poetry and prose, include some gems, such as: "God in the whizzing of a pleasant wind/Shall march upon the tops of mulberry trees." I find, however, that it does not keep my attention while letting my mind float, as a proper bedtime book should. It is also not funny enough. Bedtime books should be funny.

Here are my favorite bedtime books:

Money, The Information, Success, The Rachel Papers, Visiting Mrs Nabokov, and The War Against Cliche, by Martin Amis. Amis's writing is best read, I find, in gulps, on the toilet or before sleep.

All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All, by James Herriot. The first two of these wonderful books are the best, but all are worthy bedtime books. (Incidentally, James Herriot mentions The Brothers Karamazov by Feodor Dostoevsky as his bedtime book. The long names lull him to sleep)

The Short Stories of Roald Dahl. Dahl's stories for adults, including such beauties as "Parson's Pleasure" and "The Hitchhiker," are deft and hilarious.

The Collected Stories of Saki. Brilliant, hysterical.

English, August, by Upamanyu Chatterjee. Very funny Indian novel, reminiscent of A Confederacy of Dunces.