Best Books for Guests: Nightstand Material

Blame it on Home Depot, but despite it just being November 13 the holidays are already in full force (and have been for about a month). In that spirit, I was thinking about guests – how my husband and I will be house guests this holiday season and have house guests. I’m not the type of hostess that leaves chocolates on guest pillows (!), but I hope people who stay at our house find it as comfortable as it can be.

I love to read and recently I was asking myself what are the best books for a guest room nightstand? I spent too much time debating this internally in my head not to share it with all of you.

nightstand-books copy

1) Short story collections. Reading a novel as a guest most likely means you won’t finish it cover to cover, so the best type of literature to have on the guest room nightstand would be fabulous short story collections. A guest can read a couple and fall pleasantly to sleep.  My suggestions:

  • The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever. Winner of Pulitzer Prize. The American prose master writes (mostly) about mid century life in Manhattan and its suburbs.
  • Sunstroke by Ivan Bunin. Nobel Laureate. The Russian prose master’s collection of stories is some of the most vivid writing I’ve ever encountered (more on Bunin in a later post – I promise!).

2) Sentimental children’s books. Let’s face it: you’re on vacation; you’re a guest at someone’s house; and you’re not really looking to get sucked in to full blown literature. I get it. Provide some nostalgia for your guests with sentimental books from childhood. My suggestion:

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Your guest can just open up to any page and be brought back to a simpler time.

3) Unique art/culture books. Sure you can have a book of Monet’s waterlilies or the book of some other well-known artist, photographer, etc. Or! You could shine a light on an artist, art style, or cultural element that your guest most likely doesn’t already know about. Use your own experiences for this one: a museum exhibit you saw on your last vacation, a featured artist in the gallery in your town that you love, or something you just found on the Internet. My suggestion:

  • Croatian Naive Art. On our trip to Croatia last December, we visited the Museum of Naive Art in Zagreb. We were floored by this museum! The artwork by naive Croatian artists was unlike anything we had seen. I’d include a book about that art movement for my guests (unfortunately there aren’t a lot of books on the subject!).

4) Magazines. A few good magazines on a nightstand? Always a good idea. Stack a National Geographic, a recent issue of the Economist, and maybe something a little lighter as well.

What books are on your guest room nightstands? Which books would you love to see at a guest’s house? Tell me in the comments.

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About Stephanie Y.

I'm a professional news writer in Frederick, Maryland. I blog at S.Y. Ciphers.

4 responses to “Best Books for Guests: Nightstand Material”

  1. claire says :

    I keep Chris Rose’s “One Dead in Attic,” a short story collection about people who knew John Lennon, a small photography book by W. Eugene Smith (WWII photos) and a book on the teachings of Buddha. I need to refresh my stack, though. 🙂

  2. Christina says :

    I only leave magazines, a subtle hint to guests that they won’t be staying long enough to finish a whole book 🙂

    But really, I leave New Hampshire magazine so they can see how great our state is and maybe get some ideas for something they may want to see!

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