Where Would You #Read, If You Could Read Anywhere?

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?

About Mary Rowen

My three published novels, LEAVING THE BEACH (a 2016 IPPY Award winner), LIVING BY EAR, and IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY focus on women figuring out who they are and what they want from life. Music and musicians have a way of finding their way into the stories. I live in the Boston area with my family and pets.
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15 Responses to Where Would You #Read, If You Could Read Anywhere?

  1. Duke Miller says:

    Hi Mary,

    Tossing in the bed, trying to sleep, thinking of all those disasters waiting to fall down upon us. You and I are alike in many ways. Yes, that is a way to live and die. My favorite reading spot: I enjoy a hot bath with the steam rising up into the cold air and then I reach for my book and thus begins the art of reading in water without getting the book wet. The challenge adds a bit of reality to the story that I am reading and it is doubling interesting if it is a library book or one borrowed from a friend. You know, the one where the friend has written inside in permanent ink that the book must be returned upon penalty of whipping and then a telephone number. And so I try to keep my hands dry as I turn the pages, but it is essentially impossible and really only a question of how much watering the book will get like some hothouse plant. Relaxing, informative, dangerous, and guilt-ridden in my hot bath. Okay, there is my take on reading. Thanks and good luck in your life and let’s keep trying to get over the rainbow, because one day, for sure, we will. Duke

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mary Rowen says:

      Oh my god, Duke, that’s hilarious. I remember trying to read in a hot tub once, but it was a total fail. As I recall, everything ended up soaked. But yes, I guess the challenge does add a dose of reality to the story! As for guilt, I’ve got enough of that already 🙂 I’ve been off the net again recently, so am not up to date on your recent work, but I know you’re republishing Living And Dying With Dogs and am thrilled about it. Please let me know how I can help with the marketing process, as I believe in that book, your writing, and you. You deserve all the luck and rainbows out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. JT Twissel says:

    In the garden with a cup of black tea and black licorice from France – not the stuff from Australia (it’s too sweet). The ultimate licorice experience should be like sipping Absinthe. On a cool day, I read wrapped in soft blankets beneath Maxwell Parrish clouds. I hope you’re writing as well as reading Mary. Best. Jan

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mary Rowen says:

      Ooh, Jan, that sounds pretty amazing–what a beautiful image. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know if I’ve had the French black licorice, but will have to make an effort to find it. Am guessing the stuff at Trader Joe’s (which I tend to buy) is probably not from France?

      And I hope you’re writing as well. I’m doing a lot of editing and rewriting these days, and am hoping to republish my two novels sometime soon, as well as the one I was working on when BT closed. It’s been a strange year and a half. Some days, I convince myself that all the rewriting’s good, and that I’ll end up with better finished products. Other days, I feel like I’m adding another coat of polish to a pair of worn-out old shoes! Oh well, it’s a good thing I don’t rely on these stories to pay the bills, or I’d be in trouble 🙂


      • JT Twissel says:

        I think we all feel that way about editing previously published books! I’m not fond of Trader Joe’s licorice – it’s too bland for my taste. I’m currently hooked on YumEarth licorice from Whole Foods. A little expensive but a little goes a long way.


  3. Order two of everything above because I like all your choices. I often read at my kitchen table, which doesn’t sound very comfortable, but it’s in a nice place and the chair has a cushion and, since I’m a nerdy book reader and always take notes when I read, being at a table works for me. So maybe add a little tray for me to jot down some notes and I’ll curl up in a chair like that for sure!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mary Rowen says:

      Will do, Barb! I agree that that chaise/chair looks incredibly comfy, and I’ll be sure to order you a tray. I also read at the kitchen table sometimes, especially when I’m reading the paper. Chair cushions are key! In fact, a few years ago, we got a new kitchen table and chairs, and I insisted on cushions. They make a huge difference if you’re sitting there for a while.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. judithworks says:

    There is a garden on the island of Capri in Italy where there is an ancient Egyptian sphinx on a ledge looking out over the sea. I’d like to sit there to read.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’d love to go back to Santorini and do some serious reading there 🙂 I read in bed at times, but typically don’t last long as my eyes grow heavy quickly. I usually read on the sofa, but bought an armchair a few years ago that was supposed to be my reading chair, but more often than not, it’s the chair that I put my laptop on when I hook and HDMI cable up to the TV.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mary Rowen says:

      Yes! Santorini is one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been. But when I was there, as a 20-year-old, I don’t recall reading much! Mostly, I was interested in beaches, Ouzo, cute guys, eating great food, beaches, and did I mention beaches? But yes, if I could go back there now, I’d search out cozy, shady spots for reading with good coffee.

      I hope you’re feeling better these days, Jeri. You’ve been through an ordeal. Sending love and healing energy. XOX

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary Rowen says:

    Indeed, Jeri. I hope next year is so much better for you. Your attitude is amazing, though, and you’re a true inspiration. I’m glad you’ve been keeping a chronicle of your journey, as I’m sure it helps others who are dealing with scary diagnoses or assisting friends or family members going through cancer treatment. You’re a champ.


  7. turning20web says:

    Reading makes us imagine things our way. I m so glad that you covered your reading lifestyle since you were comparatively young and now having two teenagers. Life changes!! But books stay up our best friends.
    I was imagining how I will be having my favorite book in front of my eyes after 30 years… With my grandchildrens..?? Haha.. Don’t know..
    But we’ll..
    My favorite place is, my cozy bed… While reading with a cup of hot tea.
    Sending positive vibes 💫


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