Book Chatter: Books for tired people

Three years ago, I got a job I really wanted.

It was with people I really enjoyed, in a setting I loved, doing work I adored. It was all set up to be a fantastic complement to my full-time classload.

There was just one small problem: It took place mainly at night.

Every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., after a full day of classes, I would get the office and open my computer. Every Thursday at 3 or 3:30 or 4 a.m., I would totter home, feeling not at all prepared for another full day of classes.

"Another two blocks? Are you kidding me?"

“Another two blocks? Are you kidding me?”

It was still a great job opportunity. I just ended up with two unexpected legacies.

  1. I learned a lot about the various stages of fatigue, which include giddiness, grumpiness, nausea, vertigo, and tinnitus. (Good times.)
  2. Ever since then, I’ve had trouble staying awake if I sit still for more than twenty minutes. It’s like at some point during that year, my brain realized, “Hang on … we’re sitting. This might be our last chance to catch some Z’s for the next 40 hours. Shut ‘er down.”

This second item has caused some small problems. You know … like in class, especially when I fall into a micro-nap while my hand keeps taking notes. Some real excerpts from my class notes so far this year:

  • “OPACs not common until 1980s; used to have Q-search don’t the occult King fantasia”
  • “physical database design: code entities & attributes for use; don’t get rid of the entraces & exts. it’s Hawaii! — primary keys”
  • “heap: table that has no qimg usun threaten clustered index”

I can only hope my sanity is never officially called into question. My notes might argue against me.

Between these narcoleptic tendencies and my usual classwork, my ability to enjoy personal reading has been severely pinched. I now rely mainly on lighter stories that are easy to read in ten-minute installments on the bus or between classes. Below I’ve highlighted a few of my recent favourites.


I’m sorry, did I say “lighter”? My mistake. Ashley Little’s Anatomy of a Girl Gang might not be the kind of story you’d read to your kids at bedtime, but it’s definitely a gritty, compelling read that will make a long bus trip fly by in a snap. The story follows five teenage girls as they decide to form their own gang, the Black Roses, and carve out a place for themselves on the streets of Vancouver, B.C. Do they beat the odds and succeed? I’m not telling.


Sometimes the best reads are old reads, am I right? I picked up my copy of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s year-long introspective odyssey, in a secondhand bookstore several years ago. Since then, it’s been lent out several times and re-read even more often. Sometimes I start at the beginning like a civilized person; sometimes I page through it until I find the story that’s been echoing in my head that day. Either way, Eat Pray Love is the chicken soup of memoirs.


I’ve always loved William Goldman’s The Princess Bride (especially once I discovered that there was no unabridged edition), so I was delighted when a friend gave me a copy of his book The Silent Gondoliers for college graduation. The story follows Luigi, a man who would be the best gondolier in Venice … if his singing didn’t make people ill. It has all the elements of a classic fairy tale, but with a muted, thoughtful ending that you might not expect.

What’s your favourite book when you’re exhausted?


Photo credits: Cat from Catkin on Pixabay; book covers via Better World Books and Amazon, linked through the images.


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