How to Create the Perfect Reading Environment
Let's explore creating a reading environment. Of course, having the perfect reading space means different things to each of us, but let's pretend it's a perfect world and you could have whatever makes your little heart happy. Many of us would LOVE to have a dedicated home library - a room filled with our favorite books and all the stacks of books we want to read. This home library would welcome us every time we were in the mood to settle in with a good book.
In reality, most of us don't have that kind of "extra" space so we have to be creative. We try to claim a corner of a family room, a bedroom, a loft, or home office space. We cram in a few mismatched bookcases and add a chair (if we're lucky), and call it good.
I'm here to suggest there's more you can do, even with limited space and means, to create an atmosphere, an environment, conducive to reading that will maximize your reading pleasure. Take a minute and think about what sort of atmosphere invites you to read. What are the most important elements for you (or are you one of the lucky ones that can read anywhere, anytime?) ? Here are a few suggestions to help you create the perfect reading nook.
SEATING. First you DO need a comfortable place to sit, most likely a chair. You might need a way to put your feet up - an ottoman. You might prefer to recline a bit, so maybe a plump chaise or sofa. Seating is important, so used or new, try to make sure the chair really suits your size and how you like to sit. For example, if you like to curl up and tuck your feet under yourself, you need something a little wider than a normal chair.
LIGHTING. You need light bright enough to read but not glare producing. You want it soft enough to set a mood, but not so dim you can't see the words! If you're working with limited space, a floor lamp might be your best bet, plus you can position it behind your seating so it provides light over your shoulder onto the book page. If you can manage it, try to position your chair near a window - natural light is always great.
SHELVING. We're all trying to find ways to save, store, and protect our books. Bookcases in all shapes and sizes are everywhere, plus there are DIY videos all over the internet about how to make inexpensive IKEA shelving look like more expensive built-ins (if you have the time or interest to do that). The good old IKEA Billy bookshelves have been a staple in many homes (including mine) as an affordable way to add shelving to your home. If you prefer to upcycle, thrift stores and online shopping sites or Craig's List type sites will offer lots of options. Sometimes a coat of paint is all that's needed to give second-hand shelving new life. In my day (ahem) it was cement bricks with particleboard shelves from Home Depot. Just sayin'. I've even seen Instagram photos of home 'libraries' where the books are stacked on the floor, and I mean stacked.
To keep the home library feel, consolidate your shelving in one room if possible. You can have stacks elsewhere, but even if you just have a couple of shelf units together in a corner or framing a window or fireplace, that will help establish that area as your "reading room".
TABLE. A shelf, a side table, a TV tray, a chest or bench (or even a tall stack of sturdy books!) - something with a flat top to hold a drink, a snack, or maybe a table lamp. Not required, but certainly nice if you can squeeze it in your space.
FUN EXTRAS. Once the necessities are handled, take some time to really personalize your reading environment. This is the fun part and what will personalize your reading space, give it some personality. What makes you feel comfy and settled and ready to sink into a book?
A cup of coffee or tea, a glass of wine, ice water or a nice cold soda (and a snack)?
Toss a cozy throw or quilt over the arm of your chair so it's ready to cover your feet to keep them warm in the winter.
Do you need silence to be able to focus on a book? Then try to place your reading corner in an out of the way place in the house. Do you like some soft music in the background that will help cover the noise of TV or kids? Experiment and find your optimum sound level and strive to create that pocket of quiet when and where you need it.
Don't forget fragrance. Fragrance can play a big role in memory and in creating ambiance. Incense, a candle, or diffuser will add your favorite fragrance to your favorite reading corner.
PHONE. Last, but not least (maybe I should have listed this first!), put your phone or whatever electronic device you're attached to, out of reach. It doesn't have to be in another room, just out of easy reach. Remember, you're trying to create a calm, quiet, restful place to read. So don't make it easy for yourself to get distracted by emails, Instagram or whatever online wormhole you tend to get lost in. Put the phone out of sight!
BOOKS. All that's left now is the best part - the books. Leave a book on the chair seat each time you get up so that it's saving your place, calling to you to take a moment and sit and enjoy your reading space.
Maybe you don't have the space or resources to create your dream home library right now. But, using the ideas above, maybe you can look around your home and rearrange a few things that could help you create the 'feeling' of a dedicated reading space, even if in reality it is only a reading space after everyone else goes to bed! Be creative, be motivated, be determined - you CAN make your very own reading environment!
What's a perfect reading space mean for you? What's your dream space? Can you think of a way to create the space you dream of? Leave me a note in the comments and let me know how you love to read.
Need a little visual inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board for Libraries and Bookshelves.