Since you asked, here are the books on/near my bedside at all times:
“D.V.” by Diana Vreeland. This book will change your life. She can give you advice on how to live the most brilliant life possible. Here is an example of her genius: In 1955, the Vreelands moved to a new apartment which was decorated exclusively in red. Diana Vreeland had Billy Baldwin decorate her apartment. She said, “I want this place to look like a garden, but a garden in hell.”
“The Razor’s Edge“ by W. Somerset Maugham. It is a very old copy with an inscription on the copyright page that says “This book has not been condensed. It’s bulk is less because government regulations prohibit the use of heavier paper.” It was published during WWII and everything, including paper, was rationed. The story begins through the eyes of Larry’s friends and acquaintances as they witness his personality change after the War. His rejection of conventional life and search for meaningful experience allows him to thrive while the more materialistic characters suffer reversals of fortune.
“Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro“ by Andre Soares. It is just a really great read on an amazing life. He was a silent film actor, real estate mogul, murder victim.
“Parade’s End” by Ford Madox Ford. One of the best unknown novels from the Lost Generation writers. It is oddly interesting to me, for a war novel.
“The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You’ll Never Read“ by Stuart Kelly. It is a collection of stories about books that never were because they were left on trains, lost, burned, abandoned, or unfinished.
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Other Pieces“ by James Thurber. I reread Walter Mitty over and over. The short story deals with a vague and mild-mannered man who drives into Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife for their regular weekly shopping and his wife’s visit to the beauty parlor. During this time he has five heroic daydream episodes.
“Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. I’m trying to read it, I am just not that interested in these guys, their lives are not compelling, they are all basically over-privileged pricks.
“The Great Gatsby“ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is a paperback copy from the mid-1950’s, full of underlined passages and notes in margins from previous owners. I love seeing other people’s thoughts. I sometimes just read the last page.
“To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. The most perfect two first paragraphs of a novel I have ever read. It compels you to read the rest of the book, it draws you in, invites you to hear the rest of the story, and you will remember the first two paragraphs forever.
There are others that are not as impressive and are actually only there to lend a bit of height to the stack. An alarm clock sits on one stack and I tend to balance a glass of water on another, so I have to make sure that the top book is not that great, in case it gets a bit warped. I also have the first three Hardy Boys books, three books by E.B. White, and seven other books that I have from the third grade Weekly Reader program, but I have moved them next to the other stacks.
What I really want to do is get a few vintage sets of encyclopedias and keep them next to my bed. I almost walked up to a thrift store today, but realized that I would have no way to get an entire set home if I were walking. So, it is not a need, just a desire.