A Year of Bed-Books

Those who do not read 

are no better off than those

who cannot read.

( author ?)


My wife Carol turned me on to great books thirty years ago. She always knew what would grab my unique interests and not let me go. The books she suggested nourished my appetite for learning from people of passion and intellect. I was hooked, and I was changed in subtle and dramatic ways. And of course, when Carol is available for conversation, I love to talk with her about what each of us has been reading

Now here is the thing. Because of her health problems, untreatable sleep-apnea, back pain, etc., Carol sleeps a lot. . . . fitful sleeps. Carol is also regularly disturbed by nightmares and flashbacks of incidents in her childhood when she was a victim of sexual terrorism.

A long time ago we figured out that if I laid down with her and put my arm around her, she could sleep peacefully. She felt safe. She felt safe!! The importance of this experience is huge for people who have been brutalized in hideous manners. Feeling safe is A Truly Blessed Experience!

I also figured out that if I laid on my back, propped up three pillows behind my head, raised my left knee, with practice I could one-handedly manipulate a hardback book or a Kindle e-book. This has become a marvelous near-religious ritual for us. She feels safe. I get to be the giver of that safety. And I get to read great books by great minds expressing great thoughts while cuddled in bed with my great-woman-best-friend of thirty years. Hey, it’s great!

So yesterday I was remembering some of my great reads. I decided to write down all the books I have read in bed since early April of last year to the first of April this year. Making the list was a surprise. I did not realize how many there were, the range of titles, and how important those authors have been to my surviving hard times. I realized this list is for me is A Blessing of Time Well-Spent.

If you have come this far with me dear reader, perhaps you will consider browsing through my list below and see if, by chance, an author reaches out to stimulate your mind and spirit.

Perhaps you already have your favorite Bed-Books.

Perhaps you will lay down in bed, place your arm around someone you love and share the quiet joy of intimacy and literature all beautifully wrapped up together.



1.)  Denial by Jessica Stern
2.) The Best Known Works of Kafka by Franz Kafka
3.)  Metamorphosis, A Hunger Artist, In the Penal Colony and other Storie by Franz Kafka
4.) Fear Strikes Out: The Jimmy Pearsall Story by Jimmy Pearsall
5.)Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill by Jessica Stern
6.) Without Consent: How to Overcome Childhood Sexual Abuse by Jarvis & Kirkendall
7.) The Ultimate Terrorist by Jessica Stern
8.) Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
9.) An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mohandas K. Gandhi
10.) Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
11.) The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling
12.) Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, 1605, translation by Gerald J. Davis
13.) Mahatma Gandhi and His Myth: Civil Disobedience, Non-violence, and Satyagraha in the Real World by Mark Shepard
14.) Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism by Cornel West
15.) A Murder Too Personal by Gerald J. Davis
16.) The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois and Other Writings by W.E.B. Dubois
17.) The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson

18.) A Widow’s Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates
19.) Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande
20.) The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande
21.) The Prospect of Domestic Bioterrorism by Jessica Stern
22.) Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandra by Rahma Krambo
23.) Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
24.) Down by the River by Charles Bowden



Those who cannot read

Making Memories

Making Memories

can listen

to books


the library.

( A. Librarian )


It is hard to write The Great American Novel . . . fifteen-minutes-at-a-time.

I provide 24/7 care-taking for a disabled seventy-five-year-old woman who has been my best friend, lover, wife, and the most influential woman in my life for thirty years.  It is the only paying job I have had for the last four years.  Medicade nets me two-hundred-and-forty-five dollars a week to care for my wife, and that will soon be cut to about two-hundred.  We live and love in our vintage thirty-foot Holiday Rambler travel trailer that my cousin bought us a year ago after we lost our home.

My life-style is close to that of a single mom with a disabled child at home.  Every hour of every day has a list of things that need attention, and I know that I will not get to them all.  What is important?

On Sundays I practice a role-playing routine.  I pretend that I am a noteworthy writer, that writing is my forte’, my profession, my Calling, if you will.  I put on my New York City writer’s hat, dress like an author going to meet his agent, and act like I would imagine someone would act who has something to contribute to the world, even a  legacy to leave.

I still get my sweetheart her meds on time, food on time, exercise, reading, resting, getting to the bathroom on time.  But I do not sweat the small stuff on Sunday.  No rent, utilities, leaking faucet, laundry, dirty floors, or creditors.  I have to work at blocking these things out of my mind while washing the dishes.

While my partner sleeps, I write, or think about writing, meditate, pray, and attempt to discern what is most important to get down.  Then I do it.  I never know how long I will have to finish before I have to move on to my critical responsibilities.  Will I get to complete my thoughts?

So this is what I have done this Author Sunday. . . . Excuse me, she has pulled off her oxygen hose.

Okay, I’m back, but she will need to get to the bathroom soon, so let me say this before the day takes off in another  direction.

The long-term effects on aging victims of childhood torture and terrorism are profound, even mind-boggling.  Being beaten, choked, shocked, kicked, burned, sexually-impaled, over years, . . leaves damaged spines, brain trauma, organ-tissue damage, deformed joints, hearing and sight impairment, and then there are the nightmares, flashbacks, and the relentless, soul-challenging physical pain.

And all this suffering, all of it, is for the sins of others.

That has to make it one of the most tragic scenarios Life can deal a human being, don’t you think?

I have to go now and put my arms around the love of my life and slow-dance with her to the commode.  She laughs when I whisper in her ear the way I did when we were newly weds.

Younger Days
Younger Days

So here is my finale’.

Make a difference where you can. 

Love the one you’re with. 

          And remember, . . .

                    Living Gracefully

                                is the best revenge.

J. Kirkendall