what’s on your bedside table?

The contents of your handbag, cupboards, and bedside table speak volumes about who you are.  It’s amazing what freshly cut flowers can do for your mood.  My bedside table is home to three remote controls.  One is for the tv/dvd (the sleep timer allows me to fall asleep to a dvd at night without having to wake in the middle of the night to a repeating menu soundtrack).  One is for the cable box, and one is for the Bose alarm clock, where the sleep button rescues me come morning.  I love that I can choose which CD to awake with, and that the sound gradually increases in volume, so I’m not startled from slumber.  Sometimes my dreams begin to include the music, which is a good thing so long as my theme song isn’t loaded, because then, chances are, a sex dream will begin, which will make me late.  For something.

A satin “sweet dreams” eye mask for naps.  Two notebooks.  The smaller one fits in my handbag; the red one is my go to move if I’m traveling or writing or making lists.  There’s the glass lamp, one of my first Gracious Home purchases for my new apartment, and a Diptyque candle (not in photo), Baies scented (there are few things as luxurious as a Diptyque candle).  Then of course, a top my pile of books is a French soap box filled with condoms.  Ah, and now for the books beneath:

Lolita, Nabokov  His language is intoxicating.
Bird by Bird, Lamott She offers great advice and good lessons on writing.
Princess: You know who you are, Castagnoli  I actually purchased this as a gift for my friend Jen, but I never got around to passing it her way.  As for the rest, I’ll have update this list when I get home later, as I cannot tell from the photo.



  1. My table is pretty spartan compared to yours. I've got a lamp, a Paul Frank alarm clock (with the most annoying alarm ever!) a sippy cup for Atticus and two books: "Wicked" – Greg Maguire" and "The Idiot" – Dostoyevsky.

  2. I love this post. It's so delightfully true in the simplest of ways. It's what makes me love looking around new friends' apartments or sneaking a peek into their handbag — in a non-creepy way, of course.

    It makes me want to spice up my bedside table. Currently, it has an IKEA lamp (gathering dust – which reminds me, I need to clean), my clock radio, a brand-new copy of "Wicked" and a lovingly-tattered "Memoirs of a Geisha," my journal, glasses, a few trinkets, and framed photos of friends back home. Fresh flowers are desperately needed, so thank you for the reminder of how much they brighten any room.

    Thanks again for this post, and looking forward to your next one. :)

  3. Heh, my desk is covered in sketches and burned CDs (because I'm still a poor college student). I have atwo volumes of ancient Chinese classics and One Hundred Years of Solitude (yes the English version, because my language skills suck, and I can't read Spanish like you), Lord of the Rings (I'm a geek), and a book of Emily Dickenson's poetry (am not a huge poetry person). Actually, that's about 5% of the stuff on my table, if I go into everything, I might as well write about it in my own blog :-D

  4. Sounds like my bedside table, but no flowers today, and replace Lolita with Faulkner's As I lay Dying (I love made up words). Princess: You know who you are is me in so many ways.
    I agree with the theory, but I think the container tells as much about us as the objects themselves. Maybe more. The container tells us who you want to be, while the contents show where you are now.
    I use small bookcases as bedside tables. I want to be able to lounge in bed all day sunday without ever having to get up to look up a complicated word or reference. (Plus, I love being in bed surrounded by my books.) One day I will have an assistant who can do this for me, but for now I just put all my books beside the bed.

  5. My night table is covered with dust and filled with over 40 used AA batteries. I guess you are right. .because I am messy, lazy and can't get enough you know what.

  6. My bedside table is actually an end table cuz I sleep on the couch. So, standard lamp, fake tropical plant, and some precious Moser Glass. Moser glass? Yeah, I'm working on a post about it.

  7. I still have a lava lamp on mine…. ARGH! It doesn't match anything and is purple but I can't bear to get rid of it. I LOVE bedside tables – they are so personal. I have one on either side -phone, mobile phone, reading lamp, tissues, photo frame and candle. Pile of Instyle mags cramped in between the bed and the actual table and that is about it. My books stay on my shelves.

    I now want to replace my candle with a Diptyque though – have been wanting one for ages!

  8. An empty glass of wine, a melted candle and afancy bowl of skittles to snack on when I wake up from nightmares. All my books are on a book shelf. I hate clutter. In fact, this no-longer-needed wine glass is bothering me. Must rinse before bed.

  9. Right by the bed-2 writting pads, a nightable with the most moody and ugly lamp in the history of lamps(intentional), a 6 and a 12 string acoustic guitar(I often wake up with ideas, and getting the guitar out of the case at 3.00am after a dream complete with music and credits-yes, mine often have credits-is hard work, and I forget the sound of the music), bottle of water, "the wandering Jew"-a gift from my Grandmother and a book I am trying to slog through, "Profiles in courage"-Kennedy, and "The source"-Uris. A picture of my horse-a good thing to wake up to, as I am sans une femme, and my p.o.s. alarm clock to go along with my P.O.S. phone charger/phone.

    Stephanie-tell us more about the alarm clock(?)-sounds like something I have to have. Thanks. PS-your roses are beautiful.I live in a climate that is not rose-friendly-the soil is just crap. One of my goals in my life is to have a place where I can grow roses like my grandfather. And every time I see roses, I think of his obsession with roses, and someone to grow them for-my grandmother.

  10. my iPod, my cell phone on its charger, two remotes (stereo and tv), my glasses, a bottle of water and a Waterford bowl of potpourri from IKEA. that's by my bedside. oh yeah. and Ralph Waldo Emerson's selected essays, lectures and poems.

  11. "Hmm. I don't have a night table. Just a box of tissues on the floor next to my charging cell phone. What does that mean about me?"

    You need to Feng Shui your sleeping area… It means you don't have room in your life for another person… or something like that. When I Feng Shui-ed my house (yes, I'm a loser), I found that I'd had a toilet plunger in my "Romance Corner" for the past two years. Explains a lot…

  12. I have My Life: Bill Clinton, Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing The War In Iraq and a copy of the Declaration of Independence with the Articles of Confederation in plain site in the hutch at the bottom, but the one-year bible, A Course In Miracles and The Argument For Easter hidden in the drawer. Analyze that.

  13. 2 Remotes TV/DVD and TIVO
    Empty wine Glass…Depends on the night ;)

    Computer with wirless card so I can surf the internet in bed when I should be putting in the next days deposit into quickbooks.

    No poetry….Just my wife sleeping next to me…and the kids in their respective rooms, they're all so cute.

    Alarm clock with light projector so I can see the time on the ceiling when the baby wakes me up…usually 4:30am.

    Love your Blog…all good things to you

  14. A lamp, an alarm clock, a big glass of distilled water and whatever book I'm reading at the moment. Right now, Stephen King's Wolves of the Calla. (I know, I'm annoyingly neat. Let's do the handbags next….)

  15. I've been in a five year struggle to find the perfect night table. Perfect is so hard to find. I lost the last perfect one in my thanks-god-that's-over divorce 5 years ago. (Well, I didn't lose it exactly. I know precisely where it is – it's in her bedroom. Heheheheh.) My current nightstand is a vintage zinc-plated pie safe abutted by a pale yellow tiled window sill – cause I got a lotta stuff I need to have near me. If it ain't there for function, it serves to remind me of all the wonderful people and places in my life – past and present – and it keeps me amused when my gf is asleep. So, I've got a reproduction chrome pottery barn rotating fan, Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a Sunday Times puzzle from March (yes, I'm that far behind), this week's New Yorker, a mechanical pencil, various and sundry Zuni fetishes, a rock from a river in Peru, a small piece of driftwood, a ceramic spirit goddess (gift from sleeping hippie girlfriend), a glass jewelry box (a gift 25 years ago for high school graduation) filled with sea glass I've collected from the beaches of the world, a 1.5" round small alabaster container of all my cute little earrings, a glass jar full of vintage metro tokens, several sterling bowls and containers filled with marbles, bone beads and other small castoffs, a small homicidal Goebel soldier figurine, a love note (guess who), a book light, and a few other miniature keepsakes. I like small reminders. They trigger the sights, sounds and smells of the people and places that forged the memories in the first place.

    Oh, that wasn't a rhetorical question, was it?

  16. For some reason all I can think of is the slogan from those Capital One commercials, "What's in your Wallet?".

  17. It is clear now that I need a nice nightstand. I wake up to a blond wood folding table stacked with a years worth of Delicious, Bon Apetit, Good Food and Gourmet curled up with David Sedaris and water glasses. WHAT does that say?

  18. Extendable (is that a word?) backscratcher because I haven't been able to train my husband in this deparment, eyedrops, migraine meds, latest issues of Vogue and Vanity Fair and a stack of books all of which I've read half way. I also have flowers but they are pathetic compared to what you get in New York flower stands, as demonstrated by photo above…boo hoo.

  19. On the dresser next to the bed: JungleMonkeys, stuffed animals, white sage which I burn whenever I need to cleanse, brand new clock radio, whose display fades through a spectrum of colors. A layer of dust so thick it serves as a protective top for the dresser. I live in a construction zone, whattaya want! Condoms stay in the drawer, protects from curious nieces and nephews.

  20. This definitely gives me an incentive to spice up my nighstand (which is actually a low bookshelf… gotta keep the books near me). I have a blue glass mug with some dried lavender stems, the copy of The Velveteen Rabbit I've been tucking my sweetie in bed with (grownups need bedtime stories too), Don't Think of an Elephant, a green apple candle, an ashtray, and a big bottle of water to nurse the hangover I worked up last night.

  21. So glad I happened upon you in the NY Times – reading this is just a breath of fresh air every day. Those are peonies aren't they? Beautiful! I have a vase of flowers, a white noise machine to trick my mind into thinking that I'm lying on the beach, a lamp, my cell phone and massage oil. Massage oil for the every other weekend lover…everything else for me.

  22. 3 teen's mom. What do you do on the weekends that you don't have your lover there?


    general Max

  23. What once said much about me is now buried under sippy cups, my little girl's books, an emergency blankie, a thermometer for potential late night fevers….

    And dried flowers that were given to me when she was born.

  24. I don't have a nightstand :( But laying on the floor/on a chair next to my bed are my cell and alarm clock.
    I keep my mini dvd player in bed with me, weird I know. Thankfully I'm moving so I'll get to feng shui my bedroom.

  25. Let's see, I have an art glass lamp, a small alarm clock, water bottle sitting on a trivet, and a small stack of books including Saturday, by Ian McEwan, Under the Banner of Heaven and The Dogs of Babel. Also have a few old copies of American Bungalow magazine and This Old House.

  26. Beautiful flowers!

    And Ray's set the other night was phenomenal. I can't wait to see a show once he has more than 45 minutes of material.

  27. They are not peonies (flowers I thought to be my favorite flower). Here's the info on those flowers:

    "They're called "evelyn" or cabbage roses or sometimes garden roses. the one's you received are from ecuador which grow the most fragrant and hearty bulbs in a spray. there are some grown in california which are bigger but a single stem.

    Evelyn’ bears giant, apricot colored flowers of a shallow, saucer-like shape, with numerous small petals inter-twined within. This is not the most vigorous of English Roses, but the individual flower is absolutely magnificent.

    Its great glory is its wonderful fragrance, which is similar in style to an Old Rose, but with a sumptuous fruity note reminiscent of fresh peaches and apricot."

  28. Nighstand: Alarm clock set promptly at 7:00am, earrings, lots of them, a lamp with a lampshade that my mother modge podged stamps from Australia on it, she scanned them and blew them up, remote control, just one, an empty can of diet Coke and a pic of my boyfriend Richie! :)
    Sappy huh!

  29. I currently have 6 books and 3 journals on my nightstand. I guess that sums me up pretty well- a self-involved bookworm :-). I would hate to think what the contents of the black hole that is my gigantic handbag say about me. Great post.

  30. My bedside table reflects my married side and my individual side. On the married side, I have hand lotion (never would have predicted that one), chinese lamp with shade only a woman would pick out (laughed when I first saw it…never a smart idea, now kind of like it), and tissues. My stuff includes two gambling books (The Biggest Game in Town – excellent, and The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King – saving for vacay), thirty or so useless credit card receipts which will never be checked against the statement, a healthy dose of dust, and a clock radio that glows entirely to brightly. Add in the wallet, glasses, remotes, deodorant. I have to go home now and clean up.

  31. On my bedside table you would find:
    A paperback copy of Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories, that I am reading for my 20th Century Modern British Novel Class.

    A paperback copy of Last of the Mohicans that I am reading for American Literature.

    A bean bag bear from my husband from when we worked as volunteers for the Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. A teddy bear from my teddy bear.

    A porcelain clock covered in red cabbage roses.

    A crocheted lace doily to protect the wood top from my cats' nails and the bronze candlestick lamp from Target.

  32. Lolita is one of my favorite books. The writing and the topic are just so engaging. Love it.

    Also love your writing. And yes I found you via the NY Times.

  33. Im a fan of Nobokov's "A Bad Day" and "Signs and Symbols" both good works. I still have never read Lolita though… maybe ill get off my ass and do that someday.

  34. Evelyn?! Hm – I doubt it.
    Evelyn is an Austin-Rose (syn. English Rose) – it´s Petals bend far more backward than yours = the "saucer" has a different shape.
    Maybe you´re not really an expert in flowers?
    (the "carnations" where tagetes by the way.)
    Anyway – the roses are beautiful and this post was fun.

  35. Hmmm, the last of whatever wine I drank with dinner, a bottle of ativan, a bible and two aspirins for when I wake up in the morning with a hangover. Lord help me.

  36. The rest of the books on my bedside table are going away with me this weekend. Next update comes Monday.

    I am turning comment approval ON while I'm away to deter free advertising and trolls, so don't post a million times thinking it didn't go through or that I've blocked you. It will just now take a while for your comment to appear.

  37. steph, i think you're incredible, i really do. but if you're spending $48 on a candle, you should consider giving a little more to charity. i hate it when people tell you what you 'should' do, so feel free to stick your tongue out at the screen when you read this. i wouldn't blame you.

  38. What ever happened to the blog redesign? Not that I'm complaining about the lack of Google ad space. Just wondering if you decided to scrap it or not.

  39. I'm holding off on the redesign for right now, as I actually listened to what people had to say. I'm busy working on other projects for the moment, but there will be a redesign at some point. Just not in the next few months.

  40. LOLITA is one of my favorite books. I read it for the first time when i was 17.

  41. Let's see, a portuguese flowerpot growing Jefferson Ivy, a stack of Real Simple magazines at the exact right angle to make my night stand look neat, but not rigidly so, and at the exact right height so that my small white lamp that sits atop them casts enough light for me to read by. A white alarm clock set to 5:55am (and the oldies station), a pewter frame holding a picture of my family at the beach on the Virginia coast after Easter Mass two years ago, a small statuette I bought in Prague, a Florentine journal, "One Hundred Days in Venice" by Marlena di Blasi, a Pilot G2 Rollerball Pen: Extra Fine (I'm a bit of a stationery/pen snob), and lastly, a little tub of L'Erbolaria (Crema Per Le Mani Al Mandorle) purchased in Sicily. Have to keep my hands soft! All the better to…turn my pages with. :(

  42. To Andrea,
    Have you considered that the candle could be a gift? Or that Stephanie could already be giving plenty to charity in the form of time or money? Why don't you also comment on her expensive taste in shoes and perfume and bed linens? Geez…

  43. I have my growing shrine to Stephanie Klein — you know, some photos, a lock of hair, a wine glass with lipstick lifted from a bar, a couple candles burning. You basic movie-sociopath type-stuff.

    (Alarm clock must have been set to sarcastic this morning.)

  44. Here’s some Nabokov to make your day. It’s from Part Two, Chapter 1. Humbert is describing the landscapes he and Lolita have passed on their trip across 48 states, the “delicate beauty ever present in the margin of our undeserving journey.”

    "Beyond the tilled plain, beyond the toy roofs, there would be a slow suffusion of inutile loveliness, a low sun in a platinum haze with a warm, peeled-peach tinge pervading the upper edge of a two-dimensional, dove-gray cloud fusing with the distant amorous mist. There might be a line of spaced trees silhouetted against the horizon, and hot still noons above a wilderness of clover, and Claude Lorrain clouds inscribed remotely into misty azure with only their cumulus part conspicuous against the neutral swoon of the background."

  45. A picture of my husband on the ocean shore in Kennebuckport, Maine (My favorite vacation spent together), five candles all at varies heights, fake ivy surrounding base of candles, my tranquilty stone (a must have when running a construction company, attending college full time, raising an 11 year old, and all of my other responsibilities), and books Releasing the Goddess Within, Light in August, If success is a Game These are the Rules, The Money book for the Young Fabulous and Broke, AND The Four Agreements.

    Wonder what that says about me ???

  46. To Andrea,
    Have you considered that the candle could be a gift? Or that Stephanie could already be giving plenty to charity in the form of time or money? Why don't you also comment on her expensive taste in shoes and perfume and bed linens? Geez…

    Posted by: monica | Aug 19, 2005 11:37:15 AM

    DITTO. Judge not…

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