6 of My Favourite Reading Spaces

Hilary Mantel

Are you a lover of the sun-drenched lounger or do you prefer a chilled-out garden swing?

Do you hanker for a window seat or would you sooner have a fireside armchair?

Maybe your idea of reading heaven lies between the bed sheets?

Hilary Mantel speaks for many readers who count down the minutes until we can climb into bed and pick up the latest book on our bedside table.

My day is not complete unless I can end it with time to indulge in my favourite pastime. Reading in bed is a way to escape the real world, a chance to separate from the humdrum routines of life.

If I had a particularly rubbish day at work, this became the time I could push it aside; delighting in the knowledge there was absolutely nothing else I had to except snuggle down and read.

The number 1 favourite place to read

Age makes no difference it seems when it comes to listing bed as a favourite place to read.

In the summer of 2019, the National Literacy Trust in the UK asked children for their favourite spots to read. Beds came top of the list. Other top contenders included sofas, libraries, buses, trains and planes.

A few (imaginative? foolhardy?) children said their favourite reading escape took place on a trampoline. I’ll take their word for that; I know if I gave it a go it would turn out a disaster.

Readers are a resourceful bunch of people. Railway stations; parks; cafes; dental surgeries. We’ve mastered the art of reading anywhere and everywhere. No matter where we are, you can be sure we’ll have found a corner where we can open a book and zone out from what’s around us.

But given the choice, there are some reading spaces we prefer above all others. They’re our go to spots. The places that are ‘special’. And they’re different for each of us.

Garden Reading Paradise

Hilary Mantel clearly enjoys reading in bed but her favourite place to read is at home in Devon with the sound of the sea in the background.

My home isn’t close enough to the sea to hear the waves but I do cherish the summer when I get to spend reading in the garden.

My background soundtrack comes from the birds that use our pond as their personal bathing pool. They gather in a line on top of the fence waiting for the signal that the coast is clear. Then the entire gang swoop down into the pond for a good splash until the next signal that it’s time to return to the fence. It’s quite a pantomime performance.

We’ve just completed an entire garden make-over, including replacing the pond (it was leaking) so I hope these visitors will appreciate the new premium bathing facilities. Until the summer returns however the garden reading space is out of bounds.

Favourite reading spaces
Under construction: new reading space takes shape

Reading Plus View= Bliss

Holidays and reading go hand in hand for me. But you won’t find me book in hand on a sun lounger on a beach. I’m more likely to be sat on a bench in a park or in the garden of the hotel or rental apartment.

There’s something ultra special about looking up from a book to view an ancient monument or the cupolas of a mediaeval town. I’m equally happy casting my eye over lavender coloured louvre shutters or terracotta tiles.

Of all the many places I’ve travelled, here are three that have a special place in my affection. I’d love to return one day.

Favourite reading space
Villefranche, Cote D’Azur, France

Ok so I didn’t have a book with me when this photo was taken but I was engaged in literary endeavours; revising for a university module on the nineteenth century novel. The view over the bay towards Cap Ferrat made the revision bearable.

Kagga Kamma, South Africa

Definitely the strangest place I’ve ever stayed: a room fashioned from a cave in South Africa. If you don’t believe me, here’s the bedroom which came complete with large spider on the ceiling directly above the bed.

Favourite reading space

From the little terrace there was an uninterrupted view across the wilderness towards Namibia. Empty except for a few scorpions, ostriches, antelopes, zebras and leopards.

Favourite reading space
Miyazu Gardens, Nelson, New Zealand

Amid the carefully arranged rocks and foliage of Miyazu Gardens on the edge of the town of Nelson in New Zealand, I found the most perfect reading haven. It’s a small space but the designers created a maze of little paths taking me over bridges, through pergolas to this wonderful reflecting pool. A few hours in the shade here was bliss.

Where Is YOUR Favourite Reading Space?

I’ve told you about the places I love to read. Now it’s your turn.

Do you, like Mantel, look forward to bedtime so you can read? Where do you normally do your reading? And where is your favourite reading space of all time?

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on October 11, 2019, in Reading habits and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.

  1. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Oh, now I feel SUPER unadventurous! My favourite reading space is… my couch. That’s it. That’s where I get almost all of my reading done. I will, of course, pull out a book anywhere – public transport, waiting rooms, etc. – but I do often find it difficult to read, say, laying on the grass in a park or on a beach (something about all the added stimulation of being outside? I don’t know.) I will also always read in the bath, if I’m staying somewhere with a tub – I think heaven might actually be a bubble bath that never goes cold with a never-ending stack of great books next to it 😉

  2. When I had a bathtub, I enjoyed reading in it now and then with some soft jazz and a drink to go. That stopped when I couldn’t read without glasses, and anyway I moved to a house with no tub. I love sitting in the sofa with a book and a pot of tea, but often I nod off 😯. I read a lot while driving, walking, ironing or painting 🎧. Travelling is a good way to get some reading done, and I absolutely love sitting on “my” balcony in Madeira or in the hotel garden with book, lifting the eyes now and then and look out at the Atlantic ❤️📚

    • I’ve never been a fan of baths and couldn’t master the art of reading while bathing at all – though the idea of it is appealing the practicalities got me frustrated. Audio books are a great way to help me get through ironing!

  3. I love reading in bed in the mornings, but never do it in the evenings – don’t ask me why! My real longing is for a very comfortable window seat to read in. It would have to be deep and padded. I don’t have a window seat of any description, so most of my reading at home happens on the sofa, with a cat…

    • I drool over the pictures Harriet Devine posts of girls reading – they are often in a window seat…. If you get one can I come and share it for a little while please????

  4. I really like sitting in my new garden chairs with a good book, watching the birds on the bird feeder if my eyes leave the book. Other than that, on a sofa with my feet up is always a good one! By the sea, too.

    • Now the garden project is finished at last (took 3 months!) I am in search of some comfortable garden chairs myself. Too many of them are really hard so get uncomfortable after a while

      • Mine were from poundstretcher of all places, but they lean back and although hard plastic, I find them really comfy. Husband puts a cushion on then is fine. And they came in fun colours, too – I have bright grass-green ones!

  5. I LOVE reading before bed, there’s nothing like it. I don’t understand people who look at their phones/laptops/tablets before bed, we all know it’s bad for us, but people do it anyway-what a waste,when they are a ton of beautiful books to read instead 🙂 I suppose e-readers are the only exception to this.

    • I got into a bad habit when I was working of checking my phone just before going to bed (my colleagues in the USA were just finishing their day) – Too many times I found an email that annoyed me to the point it interrupted my sleep. Reading a book is a much calmer way to finish the day

  6. Great post! And some amazing locations! I’m not sure that I could read in any of those locations though – I would be distracted and need to be gazing at the view all the time. I agree about reading in bed – morning and evening now that work doesn’t get in the way. A cup of tea, a book and a cat or two is my ideal way to begin the day. Reverse the process in the evenings. I do love to read in the garden on a warm day when the tea might be replaced by a glass of wine, but my other favourite place is in the bath. (I think that stems from when the children were small. The bathroom was a place of escape and solitude!)

  7. Currently it’s my reading chair, though bed is close second. But I’ve always been supremely happy on a long train journey with a big book!

    • Reading on a train is a lot more comfortable than reading on a plane, providing its not a commuter train of course. I’m amazed when I see people on a crowded underground train reading while standing up squashed between other people

  8. I can pretty much read anywhere, but my favourite places are in bed, snuggled in a blanket on the sofa, in the garden or poolside. This year I also really loved reading on my hotel’s vine-covered terrace, with a stunning view across the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. 🙂

  9. I really enjoyed reading in cafés. I just like being a little oasis of quiet in a busy atmosphere. The issue, of course, is always how long you can spin a pot of tea out. Can you make it stretch to the end of the chapter?

    • The rise of the cafe culture has been such a welcome development in recent years. There are so many now that its easy to find the perfect location. as for how long you can stay – well some people seem to take up permanent residence on the strength of just one drink

  10. That room in the cave is AMAZING! If I had to choose one place in the whole world, it would be the balcony of my favourite apartments in Crete, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. But mostly it’s my sofa in cloudy Northern Ireland!

    • I didn’t believe my husband when he told me he’d booked us into a cave…. It was cosy though to reach it at night you had to use a torch and try not to pay much attention to all the rustling sounds around us.

  11. Great post! I love those reading spots in France and New Zealand and the view in South Africa sounds amazing!

  12. I read pretty much everywhere and anywhere (while eating breakfast, while standing in queues, sitting on the tram…) but my favourite place is bed and my most desired place is sitting by the pool or on the beach (roll on summer!).

    • I developed the art of reading in a queue when i had to travel regularly to the US and endure the misery of passport/immigration control at US airports. Detroit was one of the worst and our flight always seemed to land after one from China or Japan – those passengers always came in for more scrutiny than the flights from Europe

      • Yes, make the most of reading opportunities (I think it’s why I get so much reading done – all of those five minute snatches add up).

        • Good thinking though I suspect I would get frustrated because I’d just get to a good bit when it would be my turn to get called as the next patient or customer. Maybe I’d just have to turn to the next person and let them jump the queue so I could finish the sentence…

  13. My favorite reading spot is in bed with my cats curled up next to me. My favorite reading spot from a vacation was in the kitchen of the guesthouse I stayed in during my first trip to Iceland. It was quiet, with the late night light of the Arctic summer, and I had a cup of tea at my elbow. It was wonderful.

  14. Those are some fabulous places you’ve read/did literary work in! I do like to read outside, either on our cozy patio or next to any body of water. We’re moving houses (finally!) this weekend so I have to figure out where some of my favorite cozy spots will be in the new house. I’m looking forward to reading in the new bed for sure!

    • I like being near water too Chris. I didn’t get around to posting some pictures from UK lots of which show me reading by a river or a lake. Good luck with the move – such a stressful experience

  15. Bed, most definitely, but I have a few other favourites. Although I don’t have the opportunity to travel by train so often now, that used to be one of them. A nice quiet carriage, the sound of the train and a good book – I miss that.

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