If you’re an avid reader, chances are you’re a bit of an existentialist. If you’re an existentialist, you are likely terrible at making up your mind. When I eventually settle on a book to read after months of frantic deliberation, I am immediately confronted with the problem of where to read it. A few places come to mind. My bed? The beach? A park bench? Before I realize it, I’ve mentally assembled a list of pros and cons for each. None of them ever seem to do the trick, and what I’ve found is that I tend to have my best reading experiences in unexpected places. Here are five of them.
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‘Laundromat’ has to be one of the worst words in the English language, up there with ‘mortgage’ and ‘phlegm’. Turns out it’s a great place to settle down with a nice book. Think about it. You’re stuck there for at least an hour and a half, so you might as well do something. People who watch TV on their laptop in public can’t be trusted, and a book is nice and portable. The setting is admittedly unpleasant, but that’s all the more reason to escape into fiction. Plus, you can break up your reading by laundry cycles, so you don’t get mentally exhausted.
A very loud cafe
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I’ve recently discovered that my ideal reading conditions are either dead quiet or boisterously loud. Trying to read near an actual conversation is like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. Reading in the midst of twenty simultaneous conversations, is much easier. All the words blend into white noise, and it’s actually kind of soothing. Science also says that focusing can be made easier when one is trying really hard not to focus on something else.
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Tons of writers say they do their best work while in transit. Something about being on the road reminds one that we’re all just passing through this world. I think the same goes for reading. Granted, travel time to and from work may be short, so it may be difficult to a get a good rhythm going. The reader’s dream, would be hopping on the train, losing yourself in a book, and not getting off till you’ve finished. But alas, real life is not like an episode of Hey Arnold.
A Bad Party
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Alright, now this one is admittedly tough to pull off. It’s for pathological readers only, and if you get found out, you’ll be branded with a scarlet ‘N’ for nerd. Buuuut if you know a social gathering is going to be completely unbearable, it’s not a bad idea to have some reading material handy. Say you’re just stepping out for air or making a trip to get more ice, then sneak off to a secluded region of the house. 15 minutes should be enough to decompress. Feel free to take longer if party-goers are sufficiently far gone.
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The barroom reader is an elusive figure. They sit in the farthest corner of the room, dressed to the nines with an obscure book of poetry in one hand, and a double whiskey in the other. This is a tough one to pull off. If you’re a drunk-sleeper, forget it. If you’ve got a strong constitution and bravado to boot, you might be up to the challenge. The ideal window is midday to early evening, sometime before happy hour. As soon as the crowds start pouring in, you’ll have to be out of there, but it’s worth it for the indelible reputation this act secures you.
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