Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The perfect reading spot: obsession or necessity?

by Guest Blogger Mary Jane Maffini

Mjmondayreading It’s an obsession that started when I was a child reading stacks of Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and, yes, The Hardy Boys in the old wingback chair by the bay window in our living room. So if I have an ongoing quest in life, it is the search for perfect reading spots. As there are still ninety nine books in my To Be Read pile and that number is about to increase, that quest is not about to end soon.

Don’t get me wrong. I can read anywhere and do. The challenge of finding an ideal spot is that each time of day requires a different solution. The light, the weather, the type of book – it all makes a difference. I start my morning with two newspapers in my PJ’s, curled up in the cozy kitchen nook. I would advise against doing this if you are not retired or a self-employed author. The pajamas are essential and not every boss is tolerant. This is one several very good reasons why I am self-employed.

Dock_for_reading Later in the morning, if I take a reading break, the sun is too strong in the nook. So on a warm day, nothing will do but the shady side of the deck. As our locust tree has grown, I can hide out there out of sight of passing neighbors. I can ‘forget’ the telephone in the kitchen. The old lounger might need a coat of paint, but it’s perfect for a reading break or even work in the form of reading drafts of work in progress. Luckily the foliage prevents anyone observing me laugh long and loud at my own jokes. Thank you, Mother Nature.

Never mind. Sooner or later, no matter how much of a grind we’ve endured during the week — Plot disasters! Edits! Crisp notes from agents inquiring about the status of manuscripts! — There comes a weekend, a vacation, a few days off.  That means serious reading, not mere minutes snatched here and there.

Somehow it seems that a special place is required for those reading days.  Reading by the dock is a liberating experience, especially since the telephone is truly out of reach. Yes!

John_reading A cold rainy afternoon? That’s why people have sofas. The right sofa, old enough to be comfortable, can sustain a person from one end of a riveting read to the end.  Note ‘forgetting’ telephone tip above.  Sofa reading is a skill that requires a lot of practice and perseverance so that nothing interrupts the flow, except for the occasional nap. In our family, my baby brother is the all-time sofa reading and nap champ but I try to keep up. My husband likes to lie on the carpet, propped up on his elbows, reading for hours. I’ll leave that to him.

But these are the best circumstances. Most days bring all of us reading challenges and readers make sure not to waste a minute of valuable reading time wherever and whenever. I have reading material by the bathtub, the bed, the coffee table as well as a book in my purse for use in doctors’ offices, long lines in the grocery store, standing traffic jams and hanging around the dog park waiting for the pooches to get busy.

Forget the lives of the rich and famous, I feel like the luckiest lady in the world because I have excellent books to read and wonderful places to read them in.

What about you? I’d love to hear about your favorite reading spots. And if you toss in some tips for making more time for reading in a busy life, that would be perfect too.

Closet Mary Jane Maffini is a lapsed librarian, a former mystery bookstore owner and a lifelong lover of mysteries. In addition to the four Charlotte Adams books, she is the author of the Camilla MacPhee series, the Fiona Silk adventures and nearly two dozen short stories, including So Much in Common in the latest Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Her new Charlotte Adams book is Closet Confidential (Berkley Prime Crime). She lives, reads and plots in Ottawa, Ontario, along with her long-suffering  husband and two princessy dachshunds. Visit her at www.maryjanemaffini.com