What’s on Your Nightstand?

There’s a saying that goes, “Where you’ll be five years from now depends on the people you meet, the conversations you have, and the books you read”. I don’t know who said it, but I say it holds truth. Especially books you read… like the ones on your nightstand.

I’ve always been a reader. Not sure if the right adjective is voracious, avid, or anal, but I love to read. It’s in my blood, and the blood I begat, and the blood I married. My family members are all readers. So are most of my friends and colleagues.

My dad got lost for hours reading everything from newspapers to classics. My sister, who’s a lioness of a reader, said if my dad were alive when the internet arrived, we’d never have gotten him off it. My mum held a Masters in English Lit, and she wrote her thesis on Thomas Hardy. To no surprise, mum was a teacher who loved to teach kids to love to read.

Our kids were very young when they were born, so it was easy for my wife and I to mould them into our reading cult. I turned Aesop’s Fables into “stupid stories” to get bedtime bladder-relieving belly laughs from Emily and Alan. Rita, my wife, sensibly read Harry Potter to them so convincingly that they hated the movies because they didn’t sound like their mom’s character versions.

Now our kids are all growed up. Thankfully, they turned out all right because they’d rather read than work, and that’s proven because both took leave from their jobs and went back to university. At least this time, mom and dad aren’t paying.

Now mom and dad are empty nesters who love nothing better than hang around and read. Rita and I read a lot. We have so many books that our insurance provider required a structural engineer to approve our book cases for fear of someone being killed in a catastrophic collapse.

Seriously, though, we have serious stuff on our nightstands. But as close as Rita and I have been during our 37 married years, we have significantly different reading interests. Same with our kids—Emily, 32 and Alan, 30—and that’s a good thing because we all keep on reading.

My wife and kids stepped up for this Kill Zone piece. I polled them on their nightstands. I asked them to list five books they recently read, were currently reading, or had purchased and intended to read next (the TBR list). Here’s five reads on each of the Rodgers family nightstands.

Garry Rodgers

  1. Podcasting For Dummies — Tee Morris / Chuck Tomasi (Take note, Sue Coletta) 🙂
  2. Profiles in Folly – History’s Worst Decisions & Why They Went Wrong — Alan Axelrod
  3. Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind — Yuval Noah Harari
  4. Fortunate Son — John Fogerty
  5. The Cobra — Frederick Forsyth (re-read)

Rita Rodgers

  1. The Blue Moth of Morning — Poems by P.C. Vandall (Rita’s friend)
  2. If It Bleeds — Stephen King
  3. The Goldfinch — Donna Tartt
  4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine — Gail Honeyman
  5. The Alice Network — Kate Quinn

Emily Rodgers

  1. The Flames — Leonard Cohen
  2. The Story of the Human Body — Daniel E. Lieberman
  3. Saints for All Seasons — John J. Delaney
  4. Ten Poems for Difficult Times — Roger Housden
  5. The Bible

Alan Rodgers

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Stephen R. Covey
  2. How to Win Friends and Influence People — Dale Carnegie
  3. The Daily Stoic — Ryan Holiday
  4. Rogue Trader — Andy Hoare
  5. Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — Susanna Clarke

That’s the Rodgers reads. What about you Kill Zoners? Let’s read what TKZ contributors and followers have on the nightstands. Go ahead and list five books you’ve recently read, are now reading, or have on the TBR list. That includes paper, digital, or however you like to read.


Garry Rodgers is a retired murder cop with a second career as a guy no one wanted an appointment with — Dr. Death, the coroner. Now Garry passes himself off as an indie crime writer who checks his Amazon sales stats every half hour.

Speaking of crime writing, Garry Rodgers has six books out in a twelve part Based-On-True-Crime series. Garry’s first one, In The Attic, is available for FREE on Amazon, Kobo, and Nook. Help yourself to one for the holidays!

69 thoughts on “What’s on Your Nightstand?

  1. Perfect timing, Sir… I have a short stack – almost always have – Mom transferred the reading gene and is always sending me back from visits with either something I should read or I’m leaving with something I haven’t yet read from her vast assortment. It doesn’t help (or maybe it does), that her good friend works in a local, indy bookstore, and enlists Mom to read proofs and pre-pubs and they are stacked in the living room.

    All that aside… here’re JUST FIVE on my current list:
    – Daily Rituals: How artists work – Mason Currey
    – The Prince of Los Cocuyos: a Miami childhood – Richard Blanco
    – Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco,Etc. – Jeff Tweedy
    – The Poetics of Space – Gaston Bachelard
    – World Gone By – Lehane, Dennis

    And now, thanks to you, I’ve got a couple of more on reserve at the library and/or to look for in Steffi’s store the next time I go to Lower Alabama… ?

    • Love the Daily Rituals book. I read it the first time 3 or so years ago, and have a tendency to get and read it just about annually. In an age when we can get easily overwhelmed by having so many options to choose from each day, I find it comforting to drop back in and read how those folks went about their day.

        • Yes, he is inspiring. When I chat with someone about my idiosyncrasies like tracking the daily weather in my journal, I just tell people I’m channeling my inner Ben Franklin. LOL!

    • I’ve heard of “Daily Rituals – How Artists Work” so I just looked it up on Amazon. That’s an amazing list who the author studied. A “One-Click” and it’s now on my Kindle cloud. Thanks, George!

  2. The Mystery of the Witch’s Bridge
    XOXO Santa (ARC for a friend)
    Writing Deep Scenes
    Three Story Method

  3. Revenge of Analog by David Sax
    The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
    It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan
    Wonderland by Zoje Stage
    Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

    • “Revenge of Analog” – Intriguing title, Priscilla. I looked that up and now I’m going to leave my Kindle browser open because KZ folks are listing so many titles I’ve never heard of.

  4. Not counting beta reading or finishing edits on my own book to send it to my editor (yesterday! Yay!), it’s escape all the way these days.
    Outsider, Linda Castillo
    King’s Ransom, Suzanne Brockmann
    Slater and Norman Mysteries (boxed set, can’t remember individual titles) by P.F. Ford
    Bloodline, Jess Lourey
    How to Bake a Perfect Live, Barbara O’Neal
    Shadows in Death, J.D. Robb

  5. Between the Bikers – Garry Rodgers
    The Stones, the Crows, the Grass, the Moon – Walter Kirn
    Mu Shu Mac & Cheese – Karen Albright Lin
    Trrough of Hell – H.R.D’Costa
    Girl Waits With Gun – Amy Stewart

    ….and about 120 more! So many books, so little time.

    • I’ve heard “Between The Bikers” sucks, but don’t tell the author I said that, Debbie. You should recommend the title with crows in it to Sue 🙂

  6. Thanks for mentioning the Podcasting for Dummies book–I’ll be adding that one to my list because in the last few months I’ve been wondering where I can get information on that (because there’s so much it’s hard to know where to start). And George has triggered my need to re-read Daily Rituals.

    5 of the many:
    1. Be It Enacted: The Creation of the Territory of Arizona
    2. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon: Women Soldiers & Patriots of the Western Frontier
    3. Cowboys & Gangsters: Stories of an Untamed Southwest
    4. Colonel Roosevelt
    5. The Remnant

    Almost all history, as it should be for me. Wish I could immerse full time into studying history & research. 😎

  7. Oh, Garry, what fun! I love these lists, both reading and making them.

    Another Life — Michael Korda
    Blood Meridian (re-read) — Cormac McCarthy
    Tiny Love (re-read) — Larry Brown
    Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Tales of Horror — Edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto
    100 Years of the Best American Short Stories — Edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor

  8. Interesting and fun lists.

    Caste – Isabel Wilkerson
    The Drop – Michael Connelly
    Redemption – David Baldacci
    The Queen’s Gambit – Walter Tevis
    Legacy 627 – RLM Cooper
    Food For Life – Neal Barnard, M.D.

  9. I’ve made it my mission to get through the stacks of older books bowing my bookshelves before I spend any money on the next new and shiny release. So, not counting a few beta reads I’m doing for fellow writers, here are my five:

    Just finished: Sacred by Dennis Lehane
    Reading now: The Thief of Always by Clive Barker
    On Deck: Rising Sun by Michael Crichton
    Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
    Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

    Happy reading and happy holidays to all!

  10. Nicholas Nickleby, Dickens
    The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, George Marsden
    Nightmares and Geezenstacks, Fredric Brown
    Grant, Ron Chernow
    The Girl Hunters, Spillane

    • I read Chernow’s book on Washington when the pandemic first started. I love his style of taking you through the historic figure’s life without boring you. I was surprised to learn how Washington wasn’t really a powder wig dandy but an early pioneer, tracking and surveying the untamed land of western Virginia.

    • If you should be so inclined, I’d love to hear your opinion of Grant when you’re done, particularly whether you felt it to be a fair and balanced look at his life.

  11. I’m currently bingeing on Carl Hiaasen. If you live in Florida, you know that he doesn’t write satire — his novels are documentaries. Just finished “Stormy Weather” and currently working on “Skin Tight.”

  12. Not counting the 17 non-fiction titles awaiting my judging for a national contest of which I cannot speak…

    Story Grid – Shawn Coyne
    The Killer Across the Table – John Douglas & Mark Olshaker

    Audio current: Indelible – Karin Slaughter
    Audio Recent: The Good Daughter & Pieces of Her – Karin Slaughter
    Paperback Recent (working through a pile large enough to sink your battleship): Gone – Lisa Gardner
    Paperback current: haven’t picked up the next yet, but will once I dig out from under the avalanche that fell on me while reaching for the perfect gem
    Kindle current: The Class Reunion – N.L. Hinkens

  13. Great post, Garry!

    Unnatural Death, Sayers
    Case Histories, Atkinson
    Poisoner’s Handbook, Blum
    How to Think Like A Roman Emperor: the Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, Robertson
    Astronomy with An Opera-Glass, Serviss

    • Hi, Dale! Dorothy Sayers is someone I’ve meant to check out for a long time. Thanks for the prod and the other interesting suggestions. BTW, I have a half-finished copy of “The Little Book of Stoicism” by Jonas Salzgeber – so far, so good.

  14. Nothing specfic on my TBR list. I’ll open up my Nook and Kindle readers and see what jumps out at me from my library. Here are the last five books I’ve read that would be of interest here with my mini reviews of them.

    1. THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST, Angie Fox. “The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries,” Book 8.5. Short paranormal mystery novella. On Christmas Eve medium Verity Long is sent on a mission by a friendly ghost to save some animals but encounters some not so friendly ghosts who have lessons to teach her so she can change her future for the better. A fun story about change and choices with A CHRISTMAS CAROL vibe. One of my favorite series. This one is free right now.

    2. A WIZARD’S GUIDE TO DEFENSIVE BAKING, T. Kingfisher. Fantasy suitable for middle school to adult readers. Mona has only one small magical talent— working with bread and dough, but someone is killing magical talents, and she is on the top of his list. Mystery, mayhem, fights, royal intrigue, and sentient sourdough starter and gingerbread men ensue. A really clever, fun story with more ways to turn dough into weapons than you could ever think of. Mona and her friend Spindle are awesome characters, too.

    3. BATTLEGROUND, Jim Butcher. “The Dresden Files” series. Urban fantasy. The last Titan god and her minions intend to destroy Chicago and its people, and only Harry Dresden and his allies can stop them. Chicago is so screwed. This novel is one giant fight with brief moments of introspection. The losses, including important and beloved characters, are immense, and the action brutal as everything for the magical world and regular people changes. Not an easy read.

    3. THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS, Nancy Springer. “An Enola Holmes Mystery.” Young adult historical mystery. Victorian England. Novella. When her mother goes missing, 14-year-old Enola Holmes contacts her much older brothers Sherlock and Mycroft, but their plan is to shove her into a proper lady’s boarding school which is her definition of hell. She escapes in search of her mother, finds a kidnapped young lord, and other mysteries as she flees both her brothers and some criminals. A charming mystery with a heroine both annoying and clever with her own type of brilliance at solving mysteries. I believe it’s going to be a cable series.

    4. THE EIGHTH DETECTIVE, Alex Pavesi. Mystery. A novel filled with short stories with a plot surrounding them. Mystery editor Julia Hart visits reclusive mystery author Grant McAllister to discuss his short story collection called THE WHITE MYSTERIES. Their interaction is sandwiched around the stories as she tries to figure out both the mystery of this man and why the stories seem to be clues to an unsolved murder of many years ago. The stories are bleak and unpleasant, more filler than content, and I skimmed through most of them. The interaction and puzzling dance between her and Grant are interesting but ultimately not worth the trouble.

    5. THE TRAILWALKER, JL Bryan. “Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper,” Book 13. Paranormal mystery/suspense with a horror vibe. A derelict summer camp, a history of drowned campers, an ancient Native American burial site, and a man determined to bring the camp back are the perfect horror set-up for Ellie and her ghost-hunting partner Stacey. An always awesome series that uses recent paranormal lore, and the Trailwalker and ghosts offer lots of scares. The novel is accessible to anyone wanting to start the series. A perfect spooky read.

  15. Garry, thank you for this post! It justifies my book addiction. I literally spend money I shouldn’t on books like a junkie scores dope. Emily’s reading list looks great — I love reading about the Saints.

    Here is mine:

    1. Kilkenny – Louis L’Amour
    2. A Century of Great Western Stories – John Jakes (ed.)
    3. National Geographic The Indian Wars
    4. The Word on Fire Bible (the Gospels) – Bishop Robert Barron

    Can you tell I’ve been writing western short stories lately? It’s been great fun.

    • Emily is a info junkie. She’s currently studying Christianity and seems to have found her thing. I’ve never been into westerns but I do recognize L’Amour and Jakes as authors. Thanks for sharing this. Philip!

    • Phillip, thanks for mentioning “A Century of Great Western Stories”. I hadn’t heard of that. I teethed on westerns (as I’ve mentioned here a thousand times, Zane Grey was my favorite) so I’d like to take a gander at this book. Adding it to my list.

  16. Thanks a lot, guys. My TBR pile is now out of control. 🙂

    This is but a smattering.

    Next up: Dead Man’s Watch, Kay DiBianca
    Next up after that: Long Lost, James Scott Bell
    Reading now: The Watch on the Fencepost, Kay DiBianca
    Reading now: Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, James Scott Bell
    Just finished: A Single Light, Tosca Lee (highly recommend, along with the next)
    Finished before that: The Line Between, Tosca Lee
    Finished before that: Where the River Ends, Charles Martin
    Finished before that: The Last Sin Eater, Francine Rivers

    I guess I’ll stop there. So hard to choose those next ones, but love having so many choices…

  17. The Lonely Man of Faith – Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
    Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan
    Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks
    Story Engineering – Larry Brooks
    Long Lost – James Scott Bell
    Crowded Hearts – Debbie Burke

  18. Just finished: The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird
    Working on: Igniting Darkness by Robin LaFevers (will be working on for a while because it’s long and a complete stream of worsening scenarios with no relief in sight)
    Just finished: Persephone the Grateful by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams (children’s book but when it’s a long running series I just can’t not read the next installment)
    TBR: Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova
    A Song of wings and ruin by Roseanne Brown

    And I gave up on Anatomy of Story. If anyone says there is wisdom to be gained from it, I might pick it up again.

    • “The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller” – is this the one? I’ve read a lot of craft books but haven’t come across this before. Thanks for sharing your list, AZAli.

  19. Currently Reading:
    The World Without Us-Alan Weisman
    Writing Westerns-Michael Newton
    Frontier Teachers: Stories of Heroic Women of The Old West-Chris Enss
    How To Write Short Stories-James Scott Bell

    You Can’t Die But Once-Penny Mickelbury ARC
    Treasure-Clive Cussler

    (My want list has grown so much, just from this one post and everyone’s responses!)

    • Hadn’t heard of the Mike Newton book either. Will check it out. I better get off the TKZ site before I go broke. LOL!!!!

    • There are so many titles mentioned in the comments that I’ve never heard of – looks like I have to get out a little more often. Thanks for sharing yours, Carolyn!

    • WOOHOO!!!! The book “Writing Westerns” has a great resource list of history books on various periods in the west. YEEHAW!!!!!!

  20. Fun post, Garry!
    Other than ARCs and beta reads…

    CODE NAME: MK-ULTRA, Ruth Harris
    FINDING MOON, Tony Hillerman
    A THIEF OF TIME, Tony Hillerman

    ANIMAL SPEAK, Ted Andrews

    • I was wondering what you’d come up with, Sue. Are we weird to like books like “Stiff”? I checked the Zon and found this endorsement: “One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year….Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting.”—Entertainment Weekly.

      I bought it 🙂

  21. Love seeing what others in the group are reading! I just finished:
    The Modern Detective by Tyler Morley (for research and it was a fascinating look into private detecting)
    Isabella Maldonado’s The Cipher
    Several Love Inspired Suspense novels
    And have JSB’s Long Lost up next.
    Merry Christmas everyone!

    • Thanks for sharing your ;list, Patricia! I checked out “The Modern Detective: How Corporate Intelligence Is Reshaping the World ” – looks so interesting that I clicked and added it to my TBR pile.

  22. The Prestige – Christopher Priest
    Un Lun Dun – China Mieville. YA
    The Three Musketeers (re-read). – Dumas
    The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan

    Humble Pi: when Math goes Wrong in the Real World – Matt Parker

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