“Art comes to you proposing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass.” –Walter Pater
I love reading and I love the reading experience. Indeed, every time I sit down with a book in one of my favorite reading chairs (or walk with one, as it were) I take special care to ensure, as much as possible, that I get to enjoy a pure aesthetic experience. It wasn’t always like this of course; I used to just read wherever I plopped down mostly as an exhausted graduate student.
Over the course of many years and heavy, laborious hours of book consumption I began to realize some places were in fact more conducive to rich reading moments than others. There was an art to picking where and even when to read. Some places made thoughts easier to comprehend; images were more vivid, characters were more vibrant, plots were more twisty, and blackened sentences were more honeyed and golden.
Epicurus was wise enough to lecture in a garden (for he knew the importance of place!) and gave humanity the tetrapharmakos (or the four-fold cure) and today I excel him by giving the world 5 places for the best reading experience. Behold!
1. In Bed at your Own Home
You might think a bed is the most mundane place to read a book! But to be completely honest this is my absolute favorite place to read. Especially if it is raining and you can hear the soft hypnotic raindrops on your roof or window.
I’m always wrapped up in my favorite blankets no matter what time of year it is and nestled between mountains of down-feathered pillows (I recommend 4 or more on either side) with a warm hot chocolate or coffee or a delicious cup of eggnog close to hand (if it is the holidays). And to get the mood just right, I am surrounded by my other books and the gentle aura of evening candlelight.
2. In a comfy chair
Is it possible to be too comfortable? As a poet I refuse to answer this question but I have to admit…
Sometimes I need to be a little more deliberate with my reading, but I still demand that it be as pleasant as possible. Maintaining focus is important of course for remembering what you read after all!
This brings me to my next favorite place to read: in a reading chair (preferably by the fire place!). If you don’t have one of these or know a fellow reader who is missing one, they are among the best gifts for the bookish and all who love literature and leisure.
If you need to take serious notes on a book you a reading and want to avoid neck pain, a comfortable reading chair is a must. Get one with a deep seat that you can curl up in as your mind and imagination expands.
Lastly, the great benefit of reading in a chair is you can gleefully indulge in your favorite snacks! This is much more difficult to do while you are reading in bed because let’s be honest here, you are going to drop a few crumbs in the covers (guilty)! And who wants to go to sleep in their own crumbs??
3. On a train
Reading and trains go together almost as much as reading and coffee shops. Most people are probably already reading on their commute into a city but you should also set aside some time for a weekend jaunt. Some of my best memories were reading a very abstruse French philosopher on the train through Europe. When the reading got too hard and my head began to ache all I had to do was look out the window for a while and reflect and enjoy the scenery.
Because that’s what the great books really do: set your mind in motion. The steady pace of the train and the great number of windows to peer out from will provide a leisurely landscape once you put your book down as your mind drifts forward exploring new thoughts like clouds rolling over the hills and across the grassy valleys.
4. A Hotel Lobby
Deep down, this is actually my most favorite place to read novels (but not philosophy). While I mostly welcome the solitude of a night reading at home, sometimes it’s just wonderful to be in public. And that’s when I joyfully pick a hotel and venture out to read there.
The best part? You can get into some very exclusive hotel lobbies without a reservation.
The more grand the hotel you can find to slip into, the more opulent your reading experience will be. Hotel lobbies are magical spaces filled with excellent furniture to relax in and just enough hustle and bustle too balance out the too-quiet stillness that slowly settles in after months of reading in your own home. Too, the lobby is like the Preface: it’s new, it’s vivacious, and you don’t have to stay long!
Drinks and snacks are always close at hand since any hotel usually has at least a café if not a bar to get your spirit of choice. It’s basically a low key vacation for your imagination. Oh, and if you do actually grow weary of the hustle and bustle in the lobby, there are always hidden nooks for an exclusive and secret reading experience.
5. At a new café
I’ll speak for myself here and say that once I find a nice place to read and write I tend to go there as a default. After all, I searched long and hard to find this place, didn’t I? Well if it has been a while and you feel a little too settled in, then it’s time to tuck your favorite novel under your arm and depart on another adventure.
This is especially apt for those who are just embarking on the search to find their special place in the Land of Java and Books in a new city. Even for those who have made a comfortable routine, it is fun to venture out to that obscure café, or the coffee house you thought was just a little too far away to really visit with any regularity.
Now you know five great places to read, but the march of progress must continue! So, where are some of your favorite places to read?
Written by C.S. Hand of The Cozy Scholar.