Where do you like to read? Do you have a favorite spot? When we read for sustenance, to fuel our minds and souls, we want to create an experience, especially if it’s a good book and most especially if it’s a great book. The particulars of where, when, and how we read help to create our own personal reading havens. For some readers, like a coworker of mine, finding the perfect reading spot can begin early; she told me that as a child she liked to sit in the corner of her closet to read.
You see, some readers can remember the plot points, character names, and smallest details of a novel they read ten years ago. Others, like me, tend to lose many of the specifics. Instead, we remember the experience of reading the book, from the emotions we felt, to the clothes we were wearing, the time of day, and the specific spot where we read the final chapters. For instance, when I read She’s Come Undone, one of my favorite reads of all-time, I distinctly remember that I was sitting on my bed during the summertime, completely rapt. It was late enough at night that I was surely the only person awake in the house. My air conditioner was on and the only noises I could hear when I reached the final pages were the loud humming of the machine and the hyperventilating cries coming from my body. I should mention that in my opinion, the air conditioner is a key component to the summer reading experience; I’ve spoken to others who agree that the air conditioner is vital in drowning out background noises and making it feel like the world has turned off around us.
Whenever I’m reading a really great book (or even a decent book that I feel the need to just get through, like I’m some kind of reading martyr or masochist), I enjoy creating the ideal reading environment. My favorite reading spot is in my backyard, preferably when the weather is not too hot or too cold. Sunshine and a gentle, constant breeze are ideal. Typically, my dog will join me, though he has very little patience for reading and is more interested in barking at my neighbors, rolling around in the grass, and sunbathing. With the patio umbrella open and a pair of sunglasses on, I could stay out there for hours. I’ve done some great reading from my backyard patio: The Age of Miracles, Joyland, An Abundance of Katherines, Wild, and so on.
I believe that reading a good book outdoors is one of life’s small pleasures. Whether we read in a hammock, on the beach, at the park, or in an inner tube in our backyard pool, reading beneath the warmth of the sun or under the cool of the appearing moon make us feel more connected to the world and at peace. Or maybe this is just me…What do you think?
Sometimes, we read not because we’re in a calming environment, but because we hope to bring some calmness to our surroundings. For instance, as Long Islanders we’re familiar with the LIRR and the New York transit system. I think it’s safe to say that most if not all Long Islanders who do the daily commute for work or school would say that they are too familiar—too familiar with the blaring announcements of stops, the obnoxious chatter of others in the car, the crying of babies and children aboard, and the rattling and clanging of metal on metal. I have friends and family members who combat all this noise by blissfully zoning out in worlds of suburban angst, vampire love triangles, and Civil War battlefields. Reading helps us deal with a whole spectrum of unpleasantness. This could mean listening to an audiobook while making that 45-minute drive to the workplace or laughing along with Yes Please or Bossypants during chemo. At what other times do we need books the most than when we are at our most vulnerable, when we are most in need of distraction or connection, even if that connection is with a fictional character or an author we have never met?
Anyway, back to our favorite cozy reading nooks….By the way: do any of you actually have a “cozy reading nook”? A little spot in your home dedicated to leisurely reading jaunts? I fantasize about one day living in a home with an ample window seat, where I would curl up with a blanket and several oversized pillows to read the latest John Green book (for those keeping track, yes, this is about the 98th time in the brief history of this blog that I have mentioned John Green.; I’m open to support groups and 12-step programs to deal with this).
When we talk about reading for relaxation, we have to mention the ubiquitous phenomenon of reading in the bathtub. I hadn’t realized that so many people in real life read in the bathtub—not just romantic comedy heroines—until I Googled the term “read in the bathtub” and Chrome spit out the following inquiry: Read in the Bathtub Day. That’s right, since 2005 there has been a holiday known as International Read in the Bathtub Day. It’s celebrated on February 9th, and followers are apparently so into it that they have created Facebook and Pinterest pages for the event.
Of course, we can’t talk about where we like to read without mentioning an awesome reading space: THE LIBRARY! Library design is actually a really big deal—a lot of effort goes into figuring out the layout of a library, including the selection of chairs, sofas, tables and other furniture. All of this planning and decision making is geared towards making the library conducive to reading. The LPL is not a conveyor belt—we don’t want to help you find an item and then kick you out. We want you to feel comfortable staying to read or research. We want the library to be your cozy reading nook.
Here’s the question, again: Where do you like to read? Maybe your back porch in the late afternoon, or an overstuffed couch in the corner of your den, with the overhead light off and a tableside lamp turned to just the right reading glow? As always, we want to hear from you! Leave a comment below, on our Facebook page, or tweet us @levittownpl.