What does your bedside table say about you? I’m a mystery/suspense writer and diagnostic mental health therapist, and I began my “profiling” of people very early—as an 11-year-old babysitter.
(I was the oldest of four in an alcoholic home. “Responsible” doesn’t begin to describe what an anal-retentive little control freak I was at eleven.)
I loved nothing more than to put the aforementioned babysat children to bed, wash the dishes, vacuum the house, turn on the TV (in case anyone came home unexpected) and begin an FBI-level search through my clients’ homes. It was my idea of a good time all through my teens, and no one ever knew, suspected, and did anything but sing my praises as the Best Babysitter Ever. (“She plays with the kids, and even does the dishes!”)
I would begin with the bathroom cabinets, making note of medications (looking them up as best I could pre-internet) progressing through kitchen cabinets (where I inventoried food choices and drew conclusions) to underwear drawers, and I would end these curiosity-satisfying forays at the bedside table.
Ah, what a wealth of personal info can be found in a decent bedside table.
I catalogued money, threatening notes, hair pieces, hash pipes, sex toys, love letters, bodice rippers, porn stashes, handcuffs and knives. .
Compared to that, and perhaps because of it, my own bedside table is sadly bare. It has wire legs, and a stack of books underneath. Those books are nearly high enough to lift it off the ground, but that’s my rule: when the bedside table achieves liftoff, I have to finish something and put it away on the (bulging) shelves in the front hall.
But first, I know you want to know what’s on top of the aforementioned bedside table. I keep three things on top of the table: my Kindle (which has helped reduce the bookstack a lot, but not entirely, and is where I have hundreds of indie books stored) a pair of earplugs, and a big pump-bottle of Cetaphil lotion.(It’s not good for lube, in case your dirty little minds were wondering. Soaks in too fast.)
Underneath the bedside table is where things get really confusing, if you were trying to “profile” me. Top of the stack of towering books is:
The Mental Health Diagnostic Desk Reference, Carlton Munson, Ph.D. (Yes, I do mental health evaluations as part of my practice, and sometimes before bed a client’s symptoms will be aggravating me, and I need to take out my earplugs—you detectives out there, yes, I’m married and the hubby snores, God bless him—turn on the light, and read through to make sure I gave the right diagnosis, or maybe there’s something different…for instance, there are 33 subtypes of Bipolar Disorder alone. And I like to get it right.)
Nine Rules to Break when Seducing a Rake, by Sarah McClean. One step down from a bodice ripper. (I do love a romance now and again! Titles change but there’s always one in the stack for when I need a happy feeling)
Abundance: the Future is Better than You Think, by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. (I need good news, and this nonfiction, about the potential of humans to solve problems, is a mind expander and very well written. Plus has a great cover!)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. (My daughter is a cell scientist at Stanford. In addition to being fascinated by biology, I’m writing a mystery that centers on a lab, all of which reasons got me to buy the book. This one makes me feel virtuous just for reading it—and it’s a damn good book.)
The South Beach Diet, by Arthur Agatson. (Always there to make me feel crappy about my eating habits and extra pounds, but there to show I have intentions to change.)
The Poet, by Michael Connelly. (This is the best book of his I’ve read, and while I should have put it in the front shelves by now, I can’t bear to move it away, as if I could absorb some of his magic by having it near.)
The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter, by Holly Robinson. (funny and wonderful memoir by my good friend Holly. It’s signed.)
The Liar’s Club, by Mary Karr. (Another memoir. Are you detecting a trend? Yes, I’m getting ready to write my own, by doing “market research.” Funny, touching and horrible, just as a memoir should be.)
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. (I wrote a whole blog post on this, and how it inspired my new YA novel, Aumakua. I keep it near for magical purposes, like the Connelly book)
What does your bedside table say about you?
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Stop by tomorrow for “Show. Don’t Tell,” by Rebecca Tsaros-Dickson, author of Say My Name. Learn the secret why you love some books and hate others with a passion. Subscribe to the BestsellingReads newsletter to receive a daily dose of fresh voices in your mailbox.