I am out on the porch with a book in my lap, and because the older dog claimed the chaise longue years ago, I am in the rocking chair. It’s beautiful out here, filtered sun and a mild breeze. I rock slowly as I read. The cardinals sing cheer cheer cheer, and the downy woodpeckers hammer away on the telephone pole in the alley. As long as they’re not hammering on our cedar shingles, it’s a pleasant sound.
In spring, our house doubles in size when we open up the front and back porches. And my reading spots change then, too — I move to the enclosed front porch on rainy days, and to the back screened porch on fine ones.
In winter, my options are limited. I read in the living room, preferably with a fire in the fireplace and my body stretched the length of the couch so that nobody else can sit there. (But the dogs find a way.)
Or I read in the alcove off the bedroom. The big windows face south and west, for optimum sunlight, and the overwintering geraniums give a splash of color.
When I was a child, I used to sprawl at the top of our stairs with my elbows planted on the floor and the rest of my body sort of falling down the steps behind me. There, I was in the center of the house, people coming and going, noise swirling around from both floors, and I felt safe.
We all have our favorite spots, I think, for all kinds of reasons. A few weeks ago, Curtis Sittenfeld (Minneapolis’ newest star author) wrote in the L.A. Times about her favorite reading chair — a chocolate-brown easy chair with a matching ottoman. In that chair, she writes, “I slouch against the back cushion, my legs propped up in front of me, and I consume story collections and novels, memoirs and biographies.”
In a piece several years ago for the online journal Lit Hub, novelist Tayari Jones told writer Michele Filgate that she loves to read on airplanes (“the longer the flight, the better,” Jones said). Memoirist Dani Shapiro said that she likes the chaise longue in her office. “I find that with all the time spent looking at screens, it takes me a while to settle onto the page, and it helps to have a dedicated place to do it.”
And novelist Kate Christensen was all for reading in the bathtub. “I generally spend two or more hours in there every afternoon, turning pages, refreshing the hot water when it cools,” she said. “I keep a stack of current books on the shelf I had built next to the tub. I try not to let them get waterlogged, but that doesn’t always work.”
British writer Jessica Fellowes told BuzzFeed that she likes to read outdoors, in London’s Green Park. “It’s a lovely small park that joins the Ritz, St. James’ Palace, Buckingham Palace and the backs of elegant houses. A Nancy Mitford novel and a park bench are my perfect pairing in the sunshine.”
Slam poet Keith Jarrett suggested the Northbound No. 29 bus from Trafalgar Square to Turnpike Lane. “Perfect for eavesdropping and soaking up atmosphere, with a demographic that changes every five or six stops,” he said. “Bring vomit-proof gear on a Friday night.”
I’m not sure any of those options sound better than my back porch, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
What about you? Where do you read? Does it change with the seasons, or your mood, or maybe with the book itself?
Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. Include your name and city and I’ll run your suggestions in a future column. But for now, I’m going back to the cardinals, and the rocking chair. And the dogs.