Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reflections on the Reading Experience: 3 Favorite Reading Spots [Guest Post!]

I recently read a poem by Wallace Stevens called "The House was Quiet And the World was Calm". The poem begins:

"The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm."

Although I'm a freelance writer who spends much of my time writing, both professionally and for pleasure, I think I sometimes forget what a wonderful experience reading can be. Since writing professionally, I often only read with a view to how it will improve my own writing. This poem, however, reminded me of the wonderfully meditative and transformative powers of reading a good book. 

The poem also had me thinking about my own reading habits. Not what I read, but where I read. Here are a few of my favorite reading spots, and I invite other avid readers to share their own.

1. Comfy armchair at home.
This is perhaps one of my favorite reading spots because I use this particular armchair for reading only. I have a lamp hovering over the chair, so it's always well lit. There's a little side table next to the chair, where I often enjoy a warm drink and a book on a cold night. It's the perfect environment before going to sleep.

2. Public transportation.
Let's face it getting to and from work, school, or whatever other obligation is never a pleasant process. Using public transportation may be great for the environment and for your pocketbook, but it's always crowded and stressful. One day, taking the local metro line to work, I realized what a wonderful opportunity this would be to read. Instead of plugging in my iPod and staring off into space, waiting to arrive at my destination, I brought a book with me. The trip duration seemed to be cut in half. Also, I noticed that the reading experience on a moving vehicle, surrounded by so many people, was a little different from my armchair experience. The pace is quicker and I actually feel more energized going to work.

3. At the local park.
Reading outdoors when the weather is pleasant is an experience like no other. While reading at home is comforting because it's quiet, and reading on the subway is fun in its own way precisely because it's not quiet, reading at the park is enjoyable because you get to juxtapose a typically indoor activity with outdoor elements sunshine, fresh air, and a little bit of flora and fauna. I particularly like to read at the park on weekend afternoons, because it forces me to get some exercise and fresh air, effectively preparing me for the work week.

What are some of your favorite places to read and how does it affect the process of reading? Do you have any rituals you associate with your reading experience?

This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics of bachelors degree.  She welcomes your comments at her email.

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