Bedside Table: Elaine Weintraub

The books we take to bed.

Elaine's bedside table.

Reading in bed is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend time. The pile of books beside my bed represents peace, tranquility and curiosity. As a young child, I discovered the world through books. I drew pictures in my head of what the unknown world looked like. It was through my books borrowed from the public library that I learned all people are human and are bound together through pain and joy. I must have loved books very much to brave the librarian in her lair. Her list of rules was as long and rigid as her stern face, but still I came back drawn by her books and the possibilities they represented. I read everything that I could find often not understanding the adult relationships described. I remember my elder, and more religiously dogmatic brother, reprimanding me for reading books on the Vatican’s index of forbidden material. He need not have worried the improprieties described were wasted on me.

So, what is on my bedside table? Books given to me, books borrowed by me and books written by my siblings and my daughter. One that rocked my soul was “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi. Each night I returned to it unable to leave the story of two sisters in Ghana whose lives are completely changed by the slave trade though in different ways. This gripping, tragic story traces generations to bring us through to today when those questions of race and identity are still unanswered.

Sometimes, a lightweight tale of romance can be just the right choice for the avid reader who wants to fall asleep. “The Girl from the Leeside” by Kathleen Ann Kenney is a romance that disappointed me because it felt so very unauthentic. Irish women are feisty creatures and it was hard to relate to the sorrows experienced by the delicate Siobhan. The other book on the table, “My Sister’s Bones” by Nuala Ellwood was enthralling and terrifying. Set in the murderous civil war in Syria, it is full of psychological twists and turns and is a great read, but don’t expect to be able to get a good night’s sleep when you return the book to the table.

I am a history person and I enjoyed reading “Bitter Freedom” by Maurice Walsh the story of the Irish War of Independence. It was well researched and interesting, but it did not touch my heart in the way that Liam Deasy’s “Brother against Brother” did. I cried over this Irish civil war memoir. So sad to see how so much love can turn into hate, but that hate is just love turned inside out.

What else is on my table? There is a book with the title “Magic” written by my daughter when she was in second grade. I had not read this one in quite a while, and it was lovely as was my brother’s newest opus about his metamorphosis into a race horse owner. There is something for every mood and every interest beside my bed!


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Want to share what you’re reading? Send a snap of your bedside table and a few sentences about what’s on it, what you’re reading, and why you like or don’t like it. While we hope you will show us your bed table as is without straightening them up, please note this is a family publication so before snapping your photo, we encourage you to remove anything . . . erotic . . . other than, perhaps, those lines found in the books you may be reading. Email photo and descriptions to