More than a vast library or a built-in window seat with an amazing view, what I crave is the time, space and mood that are conducive to sinking into a good book. So for this first installment in a new series on simple pleasures, we’ll look at some totally creative yet doable ways to carve out space and time for reading at home — and just for fun, I’ve thrown in some book suggestions. I hope these nook and book pairings will help inspire you to find your own perfect reading combination.
Rebekah Zaveloff | KitchenLab, original photo on Houzz
Find your reading style. Just as in fashion or decorating, not everyone has the same taste in books. I have a friend who loves reading dessert cookbooks most of all, one who loves graphic novels and another who devours romance novels by the crate. Don’t apologize for what you love! On the other hand, you never know what you might like until you try it. Wander around a bookstore every now and then, and explore a section you don’t usually visit to expand your horizons.
Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects, original photo on Houzz
Reading Around the House
1. In the kitchen. There is something incredibly soothing about reading in the kitchen, while a pot of soup bubbles on the stovetop and warm smells emanate from the oven. Embrace the comforts of the kitchen by setting up a reading nook where you can sit between stirrings of the pot.
If you already have a breakfast table, just sit there. If not, perhaps you can fit an armchair in an unused corner or a long, slim table beneath a window. A tall stool with a comfortable seat, pulled right up to the counter, could even do.
Genre pick: Cookbooks as pleasure reading. Also food writing, travel writing and humor.
2. In the bath. Want total and complete privacy while lost in a book? Lock the door to prevent little ones or roommates from bugging you, fill the tub and read until you get so pruny, you can’t stand it. Some sort of shelf to go across the tub where you can put your book is a must. Floaty, draping shower curtains around the tub (plus a few candles) will go a long way toward creating a lovely atmosphere.
Genre pick: Travel to another time or place with a historical novel, some literary science fiction by Jasper Fford or some of the “rediscovered fiction” from Persephone Books.
Lauren Liess Interiors, original photo on Houzz
3. In bed. If you prefer stealing a moment to read before falling asleep or (not that I’ve done this) pretending you are still asleep so you can read first thing in the morning, the bed is the place to be. And really, what could be cozier or more comforting than reading in bed? The key here is to have firm, supportive pillows to prop up on, a soft blanket and a table holding your beverage within arm’s reach. A mug and a pot of tea or carafe of coffee for easy refills aren’t such a bad idea, either.
Genre pick: Indulge yourself in a late-night read fest with a can’t-put-it-down mystery, thriller or romance novel.
4. With twinkle lights. If you’ve been reserving your fairy lights for holidays and children’s rooms, you’ve been missing out. A strand of simple white lights costs only a few bucks and can transform a dark, boring corner into a positively magical place for sitting and reading. String them up directly overhead, and they should provide enough light to read by. If not, add another strand, but don’t turn on the overhead light — it will ruin the mood.
Genre pick: Escape the ordinary with a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez or another magical realist.
Hudson Interior Design, original photo on Houzz
5. Library style. If you love flipping through big, beautiful design and photography books, or taking notes as you read, a sturdy table paired with cushy yet upright chairs is what to look for to fill your reading spot. Doubling up the dining room with a space in which to store and read oversize books can work beautifully — a pendant light over the dining table would provide good light, and a buffet or china cabinet can house your favorite big books.
Genre pick: Anything from the art, crafts, design, garden or photography section will do splendidly.
6. In the attic. Make like Jo in Little Women and sneak off to the attic to eat apples and read in peace. If you have the space, a daybed will allow you to read and then (yawn) slump down and have a little nap. If not, a thick cushion or mattress on the floor, supplemented with plenty of cushions, will do the job. If you don’t have an attic but want to create a reading place with a similar feel, seek out a hidden corner — a shed or even a rarely used closet could make a unique reading hideaway.
Genre pick: Reconnect with a childhood favorite like Little Women, Little House on the Prairie or Charlotte’s Web.
Reading Spot 5: Tracery Interiors, original photo on Houzz
7. Outdoors. Even on a chilly day, bundling up to read outside can be a refreshing change. Carry your book out to the porch, deck or patio, along with a thick blanket and a hot drink if there’s a nip in the air. A swing or rocker can be meditative, but make sure to pull over a little stool or table to set your drink on.
Genre pick: A biography or memoir of triumph over adversity. There is something about reading the story of another person’s struggles while sitting outdoors in the bracing air that makes one very thankful for life.
8. Beside a window. Any sunny window in the house is fair game for a reading nook. If you don’t have a window seat, place a cushioned bench or an armchair right next to the window. Bare windows can be wonderful, depending on the exposure and privacy. If either is not ideal, add sheer curtains to soften the light and view. A less-often-used room is best, so you won’t be disturbed. Try the bedroom or formal living or dining room (if you have one) for potential sunny spots where you can set up shop.
Genre pick: A thoughtful nonfiction title that you can dip in and out of while occasionally staring out the window.