By Chloe Sherard
My nightstand is not so much a stand, more a haphazard construction crafted by my boyfriend using a few planks of wood he found at the local skatepark. It is not particularly pretty but there is charm to be found in its off kilter posture; an echo of some former life traceable in its dusty interstices and dark streaky scars. I have to say that I always considered its presence temporary — at least until we could afford to buy something snazzier — but over the years my attachment to it has grown to the point where it feels like one of my ‘go-to gals.’ Littered with books and dried flowers and candles and sweet letters from friends, my nightstand is a source of happiness; a consistent reminder of who I am and what I’m about which is comforting when I feel a bit sad or lost after a long day.
Most of the space in my nightstand is taken up by books (I am one of those people that reads five books at any one time) but at the moment the top is cluttered with two types of cards: postcards and tarot cards. I recently received the pack of tarot cards in the post. Rather mysteriously there was no note, return address or name of sender which I found very intriguing. I have since found out that they were sent by an old work colleague - also a practicing white witch - who remembered that I’d once expressed a desire to read tarot cards. The cards are as beautiful as the box, thick and vivid in colour with detailed imagery that is interesting to examine; an otherworldly coterie of kneeling sphinxes, knights in ornate dress, beastly animals and cloaked figures. I have been spending most of my evenings studying the images and instructions with the hope that I will soon be able to practice on others.
Before bed, I have also taken to writing postcards to friends. I enjoy the process of writing something nice by hand and then taking the time to post it. Often they are just short thank you notes or excerpts from my favourite poems but I always get a nice flutter of anticipation as I wait for them to be delivered. I purchase most of the postcards from charity shops and have amassed quite a large collection now, most of them are of Monet’s Water Lillies but I found a cool one of Woody Guthrie the other day which I can’t wait to send.
In terms of books, at the moment I have Loitering by Charles D’Ambrosio and Bluebeard’s Egg by Margaret Atwood within close reach. Usually during the autumn months, I like to devour long, weighty books like The Goldfinch or Anna Karenina, but at the moment my only desire is to read short, succinct pieces at bedtime. D’Ambrosio’s essays in Loitering are the perfect choice, his prose is ravishing and he is without a doubt one of the greatest essayists I’ve ever read. Each essay is so varied in both subject and emotion and I recommend the book to everyone I come into contact with. I have only just started reading Bluebeard’s Egg, one of Atwood’s early collection of short stories, but I am already enjoying it, so much so that I go to read one and end up consuming a few. I love Margaret Atwood’s writing as it’s so easy to become immersed in.
The one book that doesn’t move from my nightstand is Cathy by John Carder Bush. I am a huge Kate Bush fan and so, when I stumbled upon this dreamy collection of photographs taken during her childhood by her older brother John, I was beside myself. There is something so magical and inspiring about how much of an individual she is and the book shows that even as a young child she inhabited a world of her own creation. As I drift off to sleep, I like to be reminded to do the same.
Chloe Sherard works at Harper's Bazaar magazine
in the UK as Editorial Assistant