6 Literary Recommendations Destined to Become Your Nightstand’s Best Friends

Need something to read while you’re bundled under the covers and trying to forget about the snowplow rumbling futilely down your street? Or are you lucky enough to need a poolside companion while you brown your skin and sip drinks more colorful than Elton John’s wardrobe?

Either way, Daniel and Sean have you covered. They each recommended a short story, comic book, and novel that should become your nightstand’s best friend sooner rather than later.

Have a few things you’d like to add to list? Great! Let us know in the comments section or tweet us @WritersBone.

Short Stories

Sean: A Matter of Principal” by Max Allan Collins.

This a short story for lovers of tough guy, anti-hero storylines. This was my first meeting with Collins' now famous hit man named Qurrey.

The story starts simple enough, a retired hit man talks about his issues with sleeping. He can't sleep because, well, he's bored as a retiree. While on a late night junk food run he stumbles in to a kidnapping. From this point on, Collins does an incredible job of making you feel as excited as Qurrey as he blows dust off his gun and goes to work.

Collins is like me because he grew up a huge fan of Mickey Spillane and it shows in his work. The story is bare bones and it keeps you rooting for the bad guy.

Daniel: Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway.

As much as I love “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “A Farewell to Arms,” I think my favorite words by Ernest Hemingway come from his 1927 collection of short stories titled “Men Without Women.” The short story “Hills Like White Elephants” is classic Hemingway; straight forward dialogue that speaks volumes about the characters uttering it. Two lovers talking to each other while waiting for a train, but neither one actually listens or understands anything the other person is saying. Their conversation centers on whether the woman should have an abortion or not, but really, it’s about the death of their relationship. You feel every ounce of that death with the woman’s last line, “I feel fine. There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.” That’s damn good writing by one of the best.

Comic Books

Sean: Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell.

Like most everyone else, I am huge Batman fan, but I hold a special place for Oliver Queen, aka The Green Arrow, in my heart. He's a lot like Batman, but with less brooding and more of an attitude. The mini-series Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters is a stand out in the DC world. Besides the jaw-dropping artwork, the story puts you on the edge of your seat. It pushes the Green Arrow to the breaking point by attacking his personal life and his career as a crime fighter. The story holds up despite being published in the late 1980s.

Daniel: Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.

I wanted to go against the grain and pick something other than a Superman comic, but, alas, I could not. This Superman comic book is just too good. The artwork is a perfect modern take on old comic book styling and blends perfectly with the stories being told.

It makes Superman relatable without having to rely on the copious amounts of bearded brooding featured in “Man of Steel.” There’s something fundamentally optimistic about Superman that I think this comic captures beautifully. The recent film versions of Superman are much more cynical, which I guess reflects the times we live in. Loeb and Sale accomplish so much more by showcasing the world through Superman’s adolescent eyes rather than through a pessimistic adult’s.


Sean: Tie. The Shining and Cell by Stephen King.

I love Stephen King. When someone asks me to narrow something down that involves the New England-based writer, I can't do it. So for this, I managed to narrow it down to my two favorite Stephan King stories to read while trapped inside.

A lot of readers and movie lovers are about to be very angry with me. I am not a huge fan of the movie “The Shining.” Okay folks, put the pitchforks down and listen to me. The movie looks great and it's scary. But after reading the book, one can see that movie has no story, it's very empty. The movie is just about an already crazy man going more batshit crazy and attacking his family. In the book, King tells a tale of a family man who struggles with demons fueled by booze and rage and tries his best to be a good father and husband. Add in the fact that you are seeing the horrors through the eyes of a little boy with a power he doesn't fully understand and you are in for one hell of a ride.

Cell was King's homage to George Romeo's “Night of the Living Dead” series and it's fantastic fun. The book starts with a bang and then just keeps going. It's filled with over the top violence that makes you go "eww” in a good way. This book is also chock-full of King’s signature meaty, well-rounded characters. Unlike some of his other work that tends to be long and drawn out, this tale is short and sweet. The best part of this book is you can tell how much fun King had writing it; the joy and fun flies off the page to hit you in the face. Strap in for the ride and dive in to Cell.

Daniel: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I already recommended this on my personal blog “Hardball Heart,” but I just can’t help doing it again. This book is just so beautiful not to be enjoyed with a glass of red wine and a lover cuddled up next to you. Every line drips with love, passion, and romance, and you’ll never be able to forget the heartbreak and fiery exuberance of the novel’s final lines. If you don’t fall for all of the characters in this novel, well, then you have no idea what love is. This should be required reading in order to be a human being. In fact, people should have to read this book every year to make sure they remember what love should feel like.