Finding places to comfortable read and write can be a bit of a challenge and one I have been examining for many years with no exceptional breakthroughs. I was reminded of this problem while getting sucked into Stina Leicht’s Persephone Station (which is a wonderful science fiction book that I highly recommend) and finding that reading for too long in one position was making my back hurt, and then settling in to work on this article with the same results.
There’s a part of me, I think, that expects to sit down in a certain comfortable chair and experience an intense desire to be productive, but since that has yet to happen, I instead cycle through various spots once I grow tired of them. Here are some easy to reach reading and writing locations, and that you’ve probably tried, but that maybe it might be fun to reflect on. I specify that this list is full of easy to reach places because I feel that telling you to go to Rome and write, for instance, would not be especially helpful unless you were wealthy or already in Rome anyway. I was also tempted to add items like ‘standing upside on the ceiling like a bat,’ but held off in the spirit of being realistic. I hope you will read through this, think ‘I’ve never thought of lying in the middle of the floor!’ and have all your problems instantly solved. Anyway, here we go with the list:
Curled in a chair
Perhaps the most iconic of reading positions, being curled in a chair somehow manages to be terribly uncomfortable and wonderfully comfortable at the same time. I suppose it depends on the chair, but usually I end up with my body in a sort of ‘c’ position and my neck is constantly sore. I’ve attempted to write in this position as well, but I have a bad habit of sitting with my arm squished that tends to result in me not being able to type or write on occasion. Also, the lack of a flat surface makes wielding a computer difficult.
At a table
Writing at a table tends to make me the most productive, but for some reason I can’t entirely identify, I often don’t do it (Perhaps this is why I am hardly ever productive…). I suppose it could be that there’s something about sitting up straight for hours on end that makes me feel like I’m taking a test in school or something. As for reading at a table, I find it to be enjoyable when there is food involved. I feel like books and food form a solid partnership, the combination of two (usually) relaxing activities into something that reaches new levels of peace. As soon as the food disappears, the table loses its appeal.
Sprawled Across the Floor
When I grow tired of chairs or tables, this is often what I resort to. It’s not the most comfortable, but when I need a change of location, it works just fine. Reading or writing on the floor next to animals is a separate issue and is always recommended. When I spend more than a few minutes reading or writing on the floor, it’s always a sign that I’m on a roll, or that the book I’m reading is so good that I’m able to put aside my discomfort because I can’t risk moving. I’ve always found reading in this location easier than writing, though, I think because it’s hard to lay down and have your arms free for the movement typing or using a pencil. Sitting up isn’t really any better.
The comfiest location thus far – for better or for worse – reading in bed brings back memories of staying up late reading under blankets, and I both read and write there sometimes with the assistance of good nostalgia vibes. Not having your arms fall asleep requires an ideal pillow arrangement, which I swear it takes an architect to achieve. There is also the risk of falling asleep, which is rather unpleasant when it does happen, though if you enjoy naps or need sleep then I’d say it’s more of a positive.
On the Stairs
This may look the same as working on the floor, but it really isn’t. You see, stairs have elevation, and because of this they become a sort of table, providing you with a flat surface without the school desk feeling. Of course, if the staircase is well traveled, you’ll be in everyone’s way, and leaning on the steps isn’t exactly as comfortable as sitting in a chair, but it’s a nice place to work once in a while.
On an Exercise Machine
I’ve always wished I could read (really, writing is practically out of the question) on an exercise machine. I would make the experience so much more enjoyable, but the movement of running is too much, and machines I’ve encountered often don’t come equipped with a stable place to store the book in question. I’ve found it tolerable to hold a book on an exercise bike, but my hands always get sweaty and then I can tell that I’m damaging the book and it’s really just all too stressful.
Reading outside sounds divine, but often my attempts just lead me to similar problems as trying to read on the floor, with the addition of bugs. Nature is inspiring anywhere you are, but mosquitoes are not. Really, though, I wish I could work and focus while in the outdoors because it sounds like an incredible experience, but there’s always too much going on for me to be able to focus. Maybe if I tried it more often, I’d get used to it, but for now I compromise by working near open windows.
Libraries aren’t necessarily easily accessible everywhere, but if there is one near you, take advantage. Libraries, in my experience, are full of comfortable chairs and, if you’re writing, you can look up, spot books that other people wrote, and think about how someday, you’ll be there too. My main issue with working in libraries is that sometimes I’ll look up, spot a book that looks really interesting, and somehow end the trip by bringing home twenty books and accomplishing nothing.
At the Beach
I am a monster who does not like beaches. They’re crowded, and the water will just ruin my book or computer or whatever reading or writing devise I am currently using. I do have to say that reading while building sand piles with your feet is a great combination and is preferable to twisting your sleeve around for the six hundredth time.
What are your favorite places to read or write? Let us know in the comments!