Insomnia – Five Books
If you can’t beat them, join them.
Isn’t that what they say?
My insomnia rages on. I sleep (badly) by day and I am wide awake through the night.
I work, I write, I watch old movies, I read books, and wonder what will become of me. Who knows, maybe that last bit is the reason why I am suffering from insomnia, who knows.
But anyway, I thought about doing something about it, and I decided to write about it. Big surprise, uh?
I’ll start with blog posts, and then see where that takes me. I could setup a minimalist blog on some ultralight platform. Or do a podcast. A small, minimalist podcast.
I’d call it Melatonin On the Rocks.
A podcast that goes on air only when I can’t sleep.
Or I could set-up a live hangout every time I can’t sleep.
This post is sort of a prototype.
A test run.
And for starters, here’s a collection of books you might be interested in if you suffer from insomnia, because a good book is a great company when you are wide awake.
This of course is my list, and I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments, with title suggestions to add to my reading list.
Hello Midnight, by Deborah Bishop and David Levy.
Subtitled An Insomniac’s Literary Bedtime Companion, this beautifully designed book was published by Touchstone in 2000. It contains a wealth of quotes, snippets of books, book reviews, learned articles about sleep and everything sleep-related.
This was probably the first insomnia-related book I ever read, and it’s still one of my favorites.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff in here.
The Insomniac’s Handbook was published the following year, in 2001, by Universe. It is subtitled A Companion for the Nocturnally Challenged, and covers much of the same territory of the previous volume, but maybe in a little more conventional way. Even the format is the same – a square, paperbound illustrated book.
You get stories, quotes, remedies, snippets of literary lullabies, and general wisdom about not sleeping, the causes of insomnia, and maybe how you cam enjoy it.
Another good one.
The year 2000 was clearly a good (?) year for insomniacs, as it also saw the publication of Ellen Sue Stern’s **Yawn!”, a 10 Speed Press volume subtitled Bedtime Reading for Insomniacs. This one takes a different approach to the subject, and offers a miscellany of dull, sleep-inducing texts (Elvis Presley’s letter to Nixon, Bill Clinton’s Grand Jury Testimony etc), stuff only the really desperate would read (the small print on plane tickets) and a modicum of practical (and extremely soporific) health suggestions.
Clearly played for laughs, this one is anyway quite funny, and gives a sort of amusing take on the kind of desperation one feels when sleep won’t come.
The Literary Insomniac, a nice sturdy hardback published by Doubleday in 1996 is a complete different fish. EDited by Elyse Cheney and Wendy Hubbert, this is an anthology of literary pieces, Stories and Essays for Sleepless Nights. From F. Scott Fitzgerald to Murakami Haruki, this is one classy act.
I just discovered you can loan a digital copy from the Internet Archive, which is a nice thing if you’re sleepless and in dire need for some reading matter.
And finally, a book that’s not exactly about insomnia, but rather about everything that surrounds it.
Christopher Dewdney’s Acquainted with the Night was published in 2004 and is probably my first choice in this selection. These Excursions through the world after dark are a collection of entertaining, deeply documented pieces about different aspects of the world at night – from the physiology of sleep to the life of night predators, from the folklore of ghost stories to night entertainment. The book was published by Bloomsbury.
And as an outsider in this list, I’d add Nicholas Christopher’s Somewhere in the Night, a book about film noir. Because let’s admit it – it’s 3 am, you can’t sleep, the neighbors would shout at you should you turn the music up… why not watch an old noir movie?
But we’ll talk about that in another post.
Unless I can go back to sleep normally.
And what about you, out there?
Is there a book you go to when you can’t sleep?
Do you know any good non-fiction book about the night?
And what are your solutions to insomnia?