Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
~Attributed to Groucho Marx
With the possible exception of changing “dog” to “cat”, I’m with Groucho on this one. Athough it’s never too dark to read anywhere as long as you’re in possession of a booklight or flashlight.
I’m never without at least one book going, and I started thinking about places that are conducive to climbing into book world and shutting the rest of the universe out. There are very few places that aren’t if the reader is good and determined, but some are better than others. In my youth it was the school library, where there was a beat up leather easy chair that I scurried to at the beginning of every study hall lest someone else usurp my spot. Turned to face the window, I was lost until the bell rang. Libraries everywhere tend to be fine places to read, especially if they’re old and have that smell. Book smell. You won’t find that sitting at your computer or reading your Kindle.
The beach, of course. Preferably an ocean beach, but a peaceful lakeside will do in a pinch. A beach chair, towels, sunglasses and water to drink and I’m set until starvation sends me back to a food source. (sand mixed with snacks is more roughage than I care to ingest)
The background sounds of waves, seagulls, kids playing and lifeguards tweeting (whistles, not mobile devices) are the perfect counterpoint to whatever I’m reading.
There are those who are very fond of reading in the bathtub, so I have to give that a mention. Since I haven’t had a bath in over 40 years, I’ll have to take their word for the joys of turning the pages while immersed in a rapidly cooling puddle of soap scum relaxing bubble bath.
Just what is that stuff floating on the surface of the water?
Home, of course, offers a plethora of congenial reading spots. The chair, the couch, the recliner – any reasonably comfy spot where it’s just you and your book, and perhaps a purring cat curled up on your lap. (or trying to attack each page as you turn it, but that’s another story).
Air conditioning is a plus here in a NY summer, with heat and humidity skyrocketing, as is a cuddly fleece throw in the depths of winter. Of course, the whipped cream and cherry on the hot fudge sundae of at home reading is the knowledge that you really should be doing something else, but you’re not. Take that, world.
Can’t overlook reading in bed. What better way to get ready to drift off than to feel your eyes get heavy and realize you’ve read the same paragraph six times. (well, there may be other better ways, but that’s also another story) It’s better than a sleeping pill, unless, perhaps, you’ve been reading Stephen King. Sometimes it’s better to have an upstairs book and a downstairs book.
Reading in any kind of conveyance has obvious benefits, except if there happens to be really fascinating scenery passing by. This isn’t likely to be the case in either an airplane or a daily commute, or if you are on a turnpike in central New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania. (and probably in many other states as well) Not only can you make excellent progress in your book, but being engrossed in a book is an excellent way to discourage unwanted conversational or other assault from peculiar seatmates.
My personal favorite reading spot has become – anywhere. Once during my college years my car broke down in the middle of nowhere, and although I was fortunate to find a service station that could fix it, it ended up taking several hours. Several hours of nothing. In the middle of nowhere. With nothing whatsoever to so. (pre mobile device toys, of course) Boredom does not begin to describe how I endured those several hours. From that time forward, I have always had a book with me, wherever I go. Then a book, now my Kindle, but to paraphrase Scarlett O’Hara, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be bored again!”
Finally, as I was thinking about reading places, I came upon a Fascinating Facebook Factoid that is almost, but not quite, pertinent. But it has to be mentioned. Bookstores these days can be wonderful places to read as well as alluring to visit with their comfy chairs and coffee bars, and, of course, aisles and aisles of books. They also have clean and well appointed rest rooms, which I invariably make use of as I’m contemplating what to buy next. Facebook informs me that there exists something called the “Mariko Aoki Phenomenon.” It seems to be most prevalent in Japan, but refers to the tendency of bookstore patrons to want to, no to absolutely need to, visit the restroom pdq. I’m stunned – I have an honest to goodness reading syndrome, in addition to needing a pair of reading glasses in every room of the house. Who knew?
I add the following in honest tribute to a song that always made me smile broadly whenever I heard it in the early 80’s. It signified a guilt free half hour as our young sons were transfixed by a TV show (bad) but about reading and books. (I’ll see your bad and raise you several degrees of good.)