In my house, I have books in multiple rooms but my most favorite reading space is in a sitting room off the kitchen. It’s a simple area, a couple of bookcases and a chair. It’s not the one pictured above but if you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ve probably seen it. In winter, it’s cozy with a view of the garden and a lot of light. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how important a space like this is to the psyche.
What It Offers
It’s actually a snug area, about five by twelve feet, but the effect it has on me is enormous. This is because my favorite things are on the shelves. And first off, those are books. The fiction is handy to read for fun or inspiration or to learn the writing craft better. The poetry has sentimental value. There are travel books to remind me where I’ve been and gardening books to lose myself inside of.
Second, the physical newspapers and magazines in which I’ve been published are in a decorative box. Even though I don’t look at them often, I liked having a tiny reminder of small accomplishments. Third, I have a few small paintings on and near the shelves, always within sight. They remind me of my dear old dog and Paris and flowers. Lastly, a fake plant sits atop the case. It’s pretty impossible to grow anything up there so I’ve put a fake plant on display to remind me of the outside. And, if we’re getting technical, I have a live plant beside the window. Seeing green things makes me happy.
Why It Matters
For any book lover, this kind of space offers a refuge from real life. I create in the chair, I escape in my books. Seeing it reassures me. Just the view of it calms me down. It reminds me that I can always go there if I need to.
My reading space used to be a special place because it was an adult’s place that didn’t involve kids. There were no crayons or games or toys or craft supplies. It was solely for me and my interests.
But nowadays I think what feeds my soul the most is the idea of hundreds of other people on that shelf. Great or productive or creative minds created those books. And if you have a book, you’ll never be lonely. That they are my favorite books means, in a sense, my favorite minds are in the bookcase. The minds I prefer, the minds similar to mine. And thus, all of the authors are, in a sense, my friends.
Where to Sit
Beside the bookshelves is a comfy chair. Not particularly expensive, it’s a chair I got from a discount furniture store. I loved the color of it, green, and I liked its traditional but hip look. Also, it has a wide seat. I can sit crosslegged in it, which means I can balance a book or laptop easily on my legs.
My reading space is special. It’s different from the TV area, which is fun and empty-minded. It’s different from the living room, which is where our family visits and talks. Different of course from the kitchen or dining room or office. This is a space I created, decorated, made mine. It reflects me and my interests and offers a cozy respite from the hectic, complex world.
Photo by Michael Nunes