BookerTalk

6 of My Favourite Reading Spaces

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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