I was a tomboy as a kid. It was the 1970s, and my neighborhood friends and I played outdoors whenever we could. My grass-stained knees and shins were usually dirty and covered in scrapes and bruises; I adored all the local cats and dogs; frogs, mice, and bugs didn’t gross me out. I’d never heard of Lyme disease, and couldn’t understand why anyone would use sunscreen. I mean, how could something as awesome as lying on a sunny beach be bad for your health?
But I was also anxious about lots of things. I was hesitant to try new activities, and shy around strangers and people I didn’t know well. At night, I’d often lie awake in bed worrying about fires, war, car accidents, and waking up in the morning and discovering my whole family dead. I may have seemed laid back to the casual observer, but deep inside I was anything but.
So on summer days when my friends weren’t available to play, reading was my escape. About once a week, I’d bike to the library and borrow a new stash of novels and mysteries. Then I’d go home and read in my favorite spot: under a big oak tree in the back yard. I’d fill my camping canteen with water, stretch my legs out on the grass, and lean back against the wide tree trunk.
All the fears in my head would evaporate as I’d lose myself in the story. And there were very few potential distractions. The phone was in the house—attached to the wall—and if I heard it ringing, I’d never run inside to grab it. Most of the calls were for my parents, and if nobody picked it up, it was no big deal. We didn’t have one of those fancy answering machines like Jim Rockford, but hey, if the call was important, the person would try again later. Right?
Fast forward to 2017. I’m an adult now—married with two teenage kids—and although life’s a lot different these days, I still worry about all kinds of things. And I still love reading. Sure, we’ve seen some of the most amazing advances ever in science, medicine, and technology during the past fifty years, but there’s still something magical about relaxing in a comfy spot with a good book.
But rarely, if ever, do I sit outside on the ground and read. For starters, my eyes, back, and legs aren’t what they once were. I’ve also learned through experience about the importance of sunscreen, and Lyme disease has become a serious threat in New England. And if I accidentally look directly into the sun or some other bright light, I often end up with an ocular migraine. Fortunately, these migraines don’t usually cause me pain, but I get weird visual disturbances that can make reading unpleasant, if not impossible. So the bottom line is that I usually read indoors.
I love reading on the couch with my feet up. It’s pretty great—especially when one of our cats snuggles with me—and I’m not complaining. But what would be ideal? Well, I guess my fantasy reading spot would include one of those comfy, curvy chaise lounges that’s wide enough to curl up on with a book, a cat or two, and maybe even the dog.
And since I prefer tea, coffee and seltzer these days to water from a canteen, it’d be good to have a table nearby for a drink and a snack. And, of course, my phone. Because whether I like it or not, it’s almost impossible—and perhaps even irresponsible—to disconnect completely these days.
As for lighting, I love natural light, and defer to it whenever possible. But at night, I use the overhead lights in our home. They’re efficient, and because they’re on the ceiling, the cats and dog can’t knock them over. However, if we’re talking fantasy here, I’d love a sturdy table lamp with a shade (like the one below), because it looks cool, and would probably prevent some of my ocular migraines as well.
How about you? Where do you like to read, and what would you include in your perfect reading nook?