The Reading Corner is a place where books of all genres are examined and reviewed. Comments, questions and disagreement are welcomed. Grab some coffee and a comfy chair and make yourself at home.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Setting up the reading corner

Now this is a reading corner!

Readers out there, you know how it is when you need a place to get into that new book you just got (or that old favorite you need to refresh). You just have to have a place where you can be alone to read -or surrounded by some of your favorite things. Wherever this reading corner is, it needs to be yours and yours only. Otherwise it's just not the reading corner.

This blog acts more as a soapbox for me than a reading corner (after all, I'm not reading these entries, I'm writing them), but it's become my corner while I'm at home, since I no longer have my own room in the house (I've been told I can use the basement as my "apartment" but I don't get internet or cell phone reception down there, so what's the point of that? The love seat is less comfortable to sleep on than the bunk bed -although it's excellent for sitting on and watching, oh, say, Coraline in ridiculous 3-D glasses).

The lack of a reading corner for me is one reason I'm looking forward to going back to school. I plan on setting up one part of my room (which is a single) specifically for me to read in. The awful, uncomfortable chair the school provides will get a cushion, a footrest and a bookshelf on or around it and a nice source of light somewhere near it...and preferably this chair will be facing a wall, not my door. Or my computer. I like having few distractions when I read; although I can read through pretty much anything but kid's television shows (they are so distracting! I love them), I prefer to have some semblance of serenity. And maybe a candle.

For other people, a reading corner might consist of a big leather armchair with a lamp over it, or an old tree-house or even just their own side of the bed.

Setting up your own reading corner is important, especially if you read as much as I try to (that is, 3-4 books/week, depending on the books and what life has thrown at me). Having a space to which you can retreat and read is the best way to really get into a book. A reading corner is really always going to be a personal thing, but here are some of the things I've tried when searching for that perfect place to read.

  • The reading corner should not be the kitchen/dining table, the family couch or in front of a computer -unless you can read well with over 9,000 distractions all the time, these high-traffic areas are not going to be conducive to a quiet reading session. That said, if you're a busy parent and only have a few minutes to read, the kitchen table can be a good option.
  • The reading corner should be somewhere that makes you comfortable. This should kind of be a no-brainer -if you can't get comfy, you won't be able to get into the book. Whether comfortable implies big plushy cushions or a wooden chair is your call, but if you like to sit on silk and choose a rock for your reading space, that's going to take a lot more getting used to than you'd expect.
  • The reading corner should be well-lit. There are all sorts of adages about not reading in low light, and even though it might not be bad for your eyes to read when it's not bright, it's still not fun. I like to have a low lamp in the vicinity of my reading corner -overhead lights are too bright and candles aren't quite bright enough (unless I have several of them, but I don't want to waste the candles I have -they smell too nice!). Too little light is just as bad as too much. Evening and morning sunlight are always nice as well, but I find I have trouble squinting at the page during midday. It's just too damn bright.
  • The reading corner should not be where you have your day job (unless absolutely necessary). If you bring work home, leave that work out of your reading corner. Your reading corner is for reading. I refuse to write for my job where I write for pleasure, and I refuse to read for work or school in bed (unless I'm just that tired and I really need to read it and it'll just be this once and whatever other excuses come to mind). But seriously, try to keep work and reading separate. Reading should be pleasurable -and if your job isn't, combining the two spaces can ruin it. Even if your job is incredibly fun and you adore it all day every still need a break. It can just be for an hour, or half an hour, to get out of your head and into a book.
  • The reading corner should be somewhere quiet. No matter how many distractions you can take, it's best to have quiet. If you have to have noise, play some music, but try to keep the area quiet. Whether this reading corner is in an inglenook or takes up an entire room, it's easier to read when it's not noisy. Think about a library -if all that quiet freaks you out, make a little noise...but I'm pretty sure you'll find that if you try reading in the quiet for a while, that's the only condition under which you'll ever want to read. If all else fails, a good pair of headphones can work magic.
  • The reading corner should not be near a television or computer. Seriously. You'll get distracted. You'll want to check your e-mail or watch just the last few minutes of that show or read a news article or update your Twitter to let the world know you're reading...and before you know it, your reading time will have vanished. And that's a bummer, every time.
  • The reading corner should be somewhere that makes you happy. Always. Whether it's your reading corner or a space you've created for someone else, it should be somewhere that promotes peace, comfort... and reading.

What's your reading corner look like? If you don't have one...what does your dream reading corner look like? Why not make it?

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