On The Nightstand

By Kate Riley June 19, 2012

I still read all my books in print and haven’t made the switch over to a Nook or Kindle yet.  I pick them up at the bookstore or purchase them online – the good ones I keep for the bookshelf, the so-so ones I end up donating.  I do most of my reading before bedtime since it helps me relax, but I’m always reading 5 or 6 books at a time.  Sometimes I’ll read a good one start to finish, more often I’ll set it down and start another subject, is that strange?  Here’s what’s on my nightstand this month.

on my nightstand


I’m preparing in advance for a return trip to Paris next year by filling my mind with related stories of the City of Light, so forgive me but three, yes three of the books on my nightstand have the city of Paris as a main character.   

Paris versus New York by Vahram Muratyan.   A happy book of illustrations and contradictions between the two iconic cities, comparing what we eat, where we go, how we greet, what we do, and even offering observations as whimsical as a comparison between park squirrels. This is a great conversational coffee table book, you can see more examples at the ParisVNYC blog

Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas.  This is the story of a Francophile who got offered a job in Paris, so she moves and undertakes a journey in blissful pursuit of the best things to eat in the City, with a focus on sweets from macarons to éclairs to decadent chocolate truffles.  So far I’m thoroughly enjoying it even though it makes me really hungry. 

Paris in Love by Eloisa James.  I haven’t cracked this one open yet  and I really look forward to it.  It’s a diary of a year spent in Paris told by a professor who sells her house, takes a sabbatical, and lives with her family for a year in Paris, France.  

Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? by MIndy Kaling.   I like the show ‘The Office’ and she’s one of the writers and actors on the show.  I’ve read from some other people that this book is quirky and funny, so I added it to my stash, but have yet to read it.  Have you?  Thoughts?

Nerve by Taylor Clark.  I’m halfway through this one and it’s so interesting.  It’s an  exploration into the science of fear and how to channel it, deal with it, thrive under the pressure of nervousness.  It explores why athletes either excel or choke under pressure and decodes the mysteries of performance anxiety.  The book shares ways to accept uncertainty, to embrace what scares you or makes you anxious, so far it’s pretty great.     

The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry.  I just finished this book last week after reading it over the course of a few months.  Its focus is on the dynamic behind true creative work and the author shares his ingredients for being "sustainably brilliant" while offering strategies for staying inspired.  I especially loved the concluding remarks about "how you define greatness defines you" – it’s a great read for someone in a creative field.

Secrets of Sommeliers by Rajat Parr and Jordan MacKay.  Wine tasting is a continuing education and for those who want to learn, this book teaches the fundamentals.  It is also a varietal guide to wine.  Inside, the authors share tools of the trade for buying and storing wine, tips for food pairing, and gives a few reasons why travel to wine producing countries and regions rewards you with an advanced palate.  I really like the tips for buyers from the experts’ perspective. 

Home Design by Sabrina Soto.  Sabrina is a HGTV host, currently of the show The High Low Project and I’ve always liked her gregarious personality and quick style tips. I’ve only skimmed it so far but it starts with how to understand your space and find your personal style.  It addresses a lot of basics like color palettes and selecting surfaces.  There are no over the top designer spaces, it’s more practical and simple ideas for everyday living with tips on decluttering and organizing.  So far it looks like a good book for those starting out wanting to do their own cosmetic remodeling and redecorating.      

What’s on your nightstand this summer? 

Any good reads you’re loving that you would recommend?  


** Movie themed Link Party postponed… will announce the new date soon!




  1. I’m a “real book” girl too. There’s just something about having a book in your hands…I can’t get used to reading a novel on a screen yet.

    Nice list! I think the “Paris, My Sweet” sounds like a good read. I’ve read the Mindy Kaling book. It was good…I didn’t like it as much as Tina Fey’s, but Mindy actually writes about that too, so I like her. :) It’s a quick read too. Love her on “The Office” as Kelly!

    I just finished “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah for my book club (we just started up!). It was great until the end—a real sob fest. T came home and wanted to know why I was crying!

  2. I just finished reading The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough. It is a fascinating look at the history of of Paris and the many reasons Americans lived there from the 1830s to about 1900.

  3. Yea! I love when my design blogs I follow talk about books. My blog is a book review blog, and on Fridays I talk about design.

    Anyway, I was in New York week before last for a big book event and met Eloisa James. She was really great, so I hope you enjoy Paris in Love. I love reading about places I plan to travel to. Enjoy!

  4. I bounce back and forth between my Kindle and “real” books. I will say, I prefer traveling with my Kindle, since I always have to bring more than one book to keep myself occupied, and that just takes up so much space in a suitcase.

    I’m about 10 years late to the party, but I’m finally reading Wicked. :-)

  5. Bonjour!
    I’ve been following your blog for quite a wile now but it’s my first time commenting. I couldn’t NOT to because well you just hit a trifecta : You are one of my favorite blogs, I am a huge book nerd/lover/hoarder/… and i’m a frenchie! so there you have it! thanks for your blog, it’s a piece of happiness in this internet world!
    Congrats on your future travel to Paris, but if i may… A lot of people i’ve talked to liked their travel in Paris yet were a bit underwhelmed. (the dream vs reality syndrome!) I’m from Lyon and lived in Paris for a few years and even I (speaking french and all) could not stand the rudeness in general. and the prices are CRAZY!!! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous city, amazing sites, unbelievable restaurants, culture, fashion etc… So i guess my advice would be, if you have time… to not miss the country side (“la province” as they say) which is literally the entire France minus Paris. and you can honestly spend 2 weeks or so almost anywhere in France on a 1 week “Paris budget”!
    Anyway, if you want any advice, questions, help, do not hesitate to ask. I find it always better to ask the natives, they have the best tips!
    A bientôt!

    • Merci Hélène! I’ve been twice before but not for 8 years, so I’m looking forward to the return, and I guarantee I will not be underwhelmed, I love your City!
      Thanks so much for offering travel tips too!

  6. I haven’t changed to ebooks either… I like the book itself… And it’s totally not weird reading multiple books at once… I do that too! Right now, I’m reading 4diff books just on parenting! :P

  7. I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I have a stack of eight books on my night stand…four of which are about Paris. And I’m not even planning a trip! I’ve also avoided the kindle, although my recent travels are convincing me to change that.

  8. I bounce back and forth between my Nook and print books. If you like memoirs, you have to read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s so moving and just the most amazing story.

  9. Real books for me, too, though my wife switched to the Kindle and loves it. She reads a lot on the metro to and from work, so lugging heavy books is the last thing she wants to do. I like my reading experience to allow me to be completely disconnected from distractions, and a real book seems the only way for me to do that.

    Along the lines of places as “main characters,” I’ve been reading James A Michener’s Chesapeake. He follows the body of water back to the 1500’s, telling its story through various people who occupy its shores over hundreds of years. He’s does this historical fiction for many places throughout the world, with books on Hawaii, the Caribbean, Alaska, Texas, Space – it’s a pretty neat way to tell a story about a place.

  10. Bloom by Kelle Hampton was BEAUTIFUL! I’m usually reading multiple books too… a couple of mama books and one or two “just for fun” books.

  11. I too am a night stand diva. I also read on my iPad, currently reading, Quindlin’s, Lot’s of Candles, Plenty of Cake.

    Reading more than one is also “me thing”.

    Keaton’s, Then Again
    Erica Burmeister’s, The School of Essential Ingredients
    Amor Towles, Rules of Civility
    are just a few of the books sitting ner me, waiting to be finished.

    Enjoy your Paris “reads”. I think the reading and planning is part of the fun. Paris isn’t on my list but i am planning my next trip which will be to London, Scotland, Wales and back to Ireland.

  12. I LOVE books!!! I just got a HUGE order from amazon yesterday! Can’t wait to start browsing. Currently on my nightstand is Bonhoffer:Pastor, Maytr,Prophet,Spy; Homemade; The Intolerance of Tolerance, and a few others that I can’t think of! Happy reading!!! My holds at the Library are ready, so I’ll be adding some more as soon as I can get there!

  13. I have that Paris in Love and bought it before we left for Paris last month- I havent finished it yet but its a fun read so far. So looking forward to Haven and Im sure you will be swamped with your peeps but would love a chance to meet you! This will be my first ever bloggy conference!!

  14. Nothing beats holding an actual book in your hands. Like you I am currently reading several. I don’t mean too but when I get one I can’t wait to start it.
    Right now I am reading Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Burre, The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Steig Larson, and Feminine Appeal by Caroline Mahaney.

  15. Reading “The Greater Journey: Americans In Paris”/David McCullough..Interesting read~~M

  16. Tina Fey’s book was funnier, but Mindy Kaling’s book was hilarious. Also in Non Fiction, last summer I read Rob Lowe’s book “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” and loved it. And I recently read the Fifty Shades of Grey series as I’m sure most people have! Steamy stuff!!

  17. I too read mostly physical books but have the kindle app on my laptop-I use that when I am on the treadmill!

    I just finished “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed; she was only 22 when she lost her mom and couldn’t contain her grief-so she set out to walk the Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave desert to Oregon’s Bridge of the Gods. I live in OR now and it was really interesting to read her descriptions of the local mountains trails that are nearby-a good read. A powerful “you can do anything you set your mind to” read.

    Steve Job’s bio was great. So many quirks, so little common sense.

    We are moving later this year to SoCal- San Diego! Reading up on new cities is lots of fun.

    Enjoy your reading and your trip!

  18. Kate,

    Check out David Lebovitz’s latest book on Paris (with recipes), Living the Sweet Life in Paris. I really enjoyed it! And like others, I am exhausted because I spent the weekend reading and re-reading the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

    Thanks, Karin

  19. I don’t think I’ll ever give up real books for a Nook or Kindle…of course I say that now.

    I can only read one book at a time. I just finished the newest Sookie Stackhouse book – Deadlocked (the books True Blood is based on). Right now I’m reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson aka The Blogess. So far I love it – definitely laugh out loud!

  20. Mindy Kaling’s book is a hilarious quick read!! Nothing super special, but a good light book to read in between to “serious” books!

  21. My two favorite Paris books are A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and My Life in France by Julia Child. I can’t wait to try the ones you’ve listed here!

    PS I read the same way, my husband thinks it’s crazy but I prefer to bounce back and forth depending on my mood!

  22. Hi totally off topic but did you happen to order the hardware on your nightstands? and may i ask where if you did? Thanks!

    • Hi Angela, the hardware is painted and came with the Draper knock off nightstand, I’m probably going to replace them with brass pulls in the same shape …. when I find them!

  23. I’m on the wait list at the library for “Paris in Love.” I just finished “Almost French.” It’s a memoir about an Australian expat who makes Paris her home. I think you’d like it.

  24. there is definitely something to be said for reading books in print. i love technology, but there’s just nothing like a good book in which you can actually flip the pages!

  25. I really liked the Mindy Kaling book. I’m curious to see if her new sitcom this fall will be as funny as she is. Thanks for sharing your reading list – I’ve added 2 Paris books to my wish list.

  26. I just finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed too; great grief memoir/hiking story & the author is about 40 now – her 22-year-old self is depicted with more depth than might have happened if she’d written it at 22. Also just read Advent by James Treadwell, a great literary fantasy story set in modern & 1500s England, good for fans of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell I think; comes out in a couple weeks (I’m a librarian & read an advance copy).
    On my to-be-read night stand are also Paris in Love; Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – suspense of the dark and disturbing wonderful kind (I read her Dark Places and adored it), and Get Your Pitchfork On!: The Real Dirt on Country Living by a young Oregon woman who buys farmland in the Columbia Gorge and finds that farming and living in farm country has unexpected difficulties. Heard her on our public broadcasting radio and she sounded wryly funny.
    Have put Paris, My Sweet on my nightstand too now! :) I do love the travel stories.

  27. I do the same thing: I just can’t bring myself to read anything but the hard copy. I guess it’s “old school” now to read that way, but I don’t care; I like it that way :-) I just did a similar post with what I’ve been reading and this is a great post to help me with my next batch of reading material! Thanks for sharing your nightstand :-)

  28. I’ve been looking for some summer reads! I’ll definitely have to check out a few of these! The ones about Paris are really catching my eye because we are saving for a trip there for next summer.

  29. Same as you, I only read hard copies of books. Have no desire for an e-reader. Also, like you, I read several books at once. Currently reading The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht; Books Make a Home; Decorate; and Quiet: The Introvert Advantage.

  30. I really enjoyed “Paris: My Sweet”, but I loved “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Bard. It will also make you want to cook french food, and it has recipes throughout. The author moves to Paris because she falls in love with a Frenchman and the book is about her assimilation into French culture. Another book I love is ‘A Discovery of Witches’ by Deborah Harkness. I am excited because the sequel comes out in July. It’s about witches and vampires living among us in secret. It’s a wonderful book!

  31. I enjoy pretty books to display… but for reading, I have an ipad and a kindle. I have MS, so it makes turning the pages much easier. I’m currently reading “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I really loved the “Hunger Games” trilogy :)

  32. Kate

    Love when you do the nightstand snapshot of your reading…I usually open my online library account right next to your page and request them all! You turned me onto Shauna Niequist this way and I’m looking forward to reading these!

  33. Hi. How did you carve the design into the draper drawers. What tools I’d you use? Thanks. Again another great blog.

  34. Hi, if you haven’t already check out the website Chocolate and Zucchini the link is chocolateandzucchini.com! This blog/website and the authors books on food and Paris made me feel like a native on my last trip. I frequently try the recipes from the website when I’m feeling a bit homesick for Paris and each time I try a new recipe I feel like I’m back! The city guide on the website is helpful too and introduced me to a wide variety of food shops and other stores that I might have missed. Enjoy!

  35. Great choices! My books this summer have been by Dave Ramsey (fineness) or Malcolm Gladwell. I need more “fun” reading, and perhaps a book inspired by Paris will be just what I need. Thanks for sharing!

  36. Hi Kate,

    I think you wrote you were in Savannah the other day. That’s where I live-skidaway island Small world :) I love Mindy’s book. Read it a few months back. It’s a very sarcastic and witty. My favorite book right now, that I am everyone telling everyone about is called the Kitchen House. It’s amazing. Serious but amazing! Hope you all get to read it.

    Take care and have fun in Savannah, it’s a great city.

  37. I do the kindle thing on my iPad and I read more because of it, but on my nightstand in hard copy I’m reading, Blood, Bones and Butter (The inadvertent education of a reluctant chef) by Gabrielle Hamilton. She also has chef column in House Beautiful. Pretty compelling. Best book of the year in non-fiction was Will Power, Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister. And, the best classic I read last summer was Jane Eyre. I love your nightstand and the books give an air of sophistication.

  38. I absolutely loved Mindy’s book! If you love her on “The Office”, you’ll love the humor of this book. I also picked up Sabrina Soto’s book but haven’t had a chance to really look at it yet. So little time for reading when you have a two-year-old and a three-year-old but I love your choices and might check some of those titles out myself! :)

  39. In just the past two weeks, within days of each other, I luckily discovered both the Centsational Girl blog and “On the Island”, a fiction novel. I absolutely love them both!
    “On the Island” is written by another blogger, Tracey Garvis-Graves, and it is absolute PERFECTION. Every page is compelling, and utterly impossible to put down until the book is sadly over…. My husband found this gem and downloaded it onto my kindle, which I hardly ever use. My husband, mother and sister have all read it, and LOVED it. In recent weeks “On the Island” was purchased by Penguin books and should be in print next month. The moment I see it in stores I will buy it and treasure it for a long time…
    Here is a brief summary – but I suggest you not read any lengthy reviews so as not to spoil the suspense and intrigue: Anna is a 30 year old teacher hired by 16 y.o. T.J.’s parents to be his tutor, during on a family vacation in the Maldives. While on a seaplane over the Indian Ocean, their pilot suffers a fatal heart attack, and Anna and TJ are left stranded on a tiny island. What follows is just a totally believable and moving story. This author is just amazing – she created two really likeable and genuine characters, and I felt like I was on the island with them.
    Read this book people!!!!

    story is yours to discover and savor.

  40. Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts! Beautifully written and a great read!

  41. love reading tips on what to read next. Currently, I’m reading “The Art of Fielding” and even though i’m not a huge baseball fan, it’s really good so far. I think it would be one of those front to back cover reads fo you.

  42. I love hearing about good book suggestions! My love for frugality,food, and, self-sufficiency have kept me in stacks of great reads lately. I’ve been out of work due to a serious spine injury so I have plenty of time to read, but no money to spend on books (which I’d rather buy more than shoes any day). My regional library system has an online site to order almost any book I’m searching for and then just pick up at my local library when they’re in. I have an account on Goodreads (free) that I keep track of what I’ve read, currently reading, and hope to read. Most recent greatss, “The Cookbook Collector” by Allegra Goodman, “Made for You and Me: Going West, Going Broke, Finding Home” by Caitlin Shetterly, “Lunch In Paris” by Elizabeth Bard, and “Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut” by Jill Kargman, “The Feast Nearby” by Robin Mather, “The Dirty Life” by Kristin Kimball, “Barnheart” by Jenna Woginrich, and “Goat Song” by Brad Kessler.

  43. I also love to read and am dependent on good recommendations from others. I actually made a similar blog post a few weeks ago (http://hellobrielle.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/summer-reading/) because it is helpful and inspiring for me to see what others are reading, so I thought I’d pass on some of my ideas.

    I generally lean more towards fiction, but I’m trying to expand so that I’m learning too. Kate’s selection of books are quite impressive, and I definitely want to check out The Accidental Creative. While I love an attractive book, I’m slowly jumping on the Kindle bandwagon. I’m a new mom and have discovered the joys of reading while nursing, and a Kindle just makes this really easy!

  44. Although I mainly use my Kindle Fire, for bath tub reading it has to be a “real” book. Just can’t quite give up my “real” books. My next book will be Sabrina Soto’s. It looks really good and I’ve always loved her on HGTV. For all your e-reader fans, Pixel Of Ink.com is a great resource for free e-books. My Kindle has over 500 books on it right now and I’ve only purchased 5. Got to love the free stuff!

  45. I love reading all sorts of things, I do have a kindle which is great for travelling, but at home I love the feel of real books.
    | have a bit of a passion for children’s books as i used to be a school librarian.
    Here are some of my favourites http://www.karenbarclay.com/photos/im-having-a-blast-of-the-past/ at the moment I am trying to make a bread starter from the Bourke street bakery cook book, it takes 4 weeks just to make the starter so the bread had better be really good!

  46. I also love reading more than one (real) book at a time. I LOVED, and highly recommend, Just Kids by Patti Smith.

  47. I’d go with the Kindle because you can loan books to your friends who have Kindles,etc.there is also the library lending option. Nook may have similar benefits, don’t know.

  48. That’s quite an impressive list you have there Kate! I’m strictly a ‘one book at a time’ kinda gal, and I can go either way…real or ipad. I definitely prefer my ipad for traveling, especially with all the weight restrictions. Right now I’m reading Fifty Shades Darker. It’s an easy summertime read (and HOT, HOT, HOT!). Wondering how they’ll ever find a guy gorgeous enough to live up to the fantasy for the movie.

    I’ve been to France twice and thoroughly enjoyed it both times. The first time was Paris and the second Monte Carlo. If you have time, definitely venture out. I think you’re a city gal at heart though? I know you love my home town of NY, and now you mentioned you’ve been to Paris before and loved it. Bet you love San Francisco too? My FAVORITE city ever!!

    And Karen B…4 weeks for a starter! Damn girl…you must be a good plan-a-header type of gal!

  49. What? .. reading 5-6 at a time? oooh I am light-headed … I STILL can’t seem to catch up in just ONE of my readings :) That reminds me … need to look for it … where on earth did I leave it last? :)

  50. Thanks so much for your kind words – so glad you enjoyed The Accidental Creative! (I picked up a few other books to add to my reading list too… :) Love your site.

    • Wow Todd, I’ve never had an author comment, thanks, I’m impressed and yep – loved the book!

  51. I love this site! and I am so glad to know that I’m not the only one that reads multiple books at once! Reading several but the one I’m into now is a novel ” Bringing Up the Bodies” it’s about
    Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. I love love love real books, can’t get into Nooks/Kindle but I hear that is the way to go when traveling… enjoy Paris!

  52. Sounds like some great reads! I’ll have to check them out. I just posted my summer reading list. Let’s hope I get through them. You can check out what’s on my nightstand on my blog. Pop over! Keep us posted on how good these reads are!

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