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.
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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

28 comments:

Bookwoman said...

I tried to create the perfect reading spot. Got a great deal on a chaise lounge. Found a great spot the window (lots of natural light and perfect if it rains), but my two furry children seem to think it belongs to them. So I end up elsewhere.

Linda Leszczuk said...

My favorite spot is on the deck (weather permitting), with my feet propped up on a second chair and either a bottle of cold water or a nice mug of hot tea (again, depending on the weather) close at hand. Early mornings are best but evening can be nice too.

Unfortunately, those times are few and far between and most of my reading is done wherever I happen to be when I can steal a few minutes.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

I know what you mean, Bookwoman, about the furry ones taking over.

Linda, I too love the deck, but even self-employed as I am, there's never enough time! I just treasure whatever there is.

MJ

Sheila Dalton said...

I read in a big green armchair, with my laptop in front of me on a desk with wheels. That's because I like to switch from reading a book, to reading on my Kindle for PC, to chatting on Facebook ... etc., etc.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Sheila, I thought I was the only one who did things like that!

Sheila Dalton said...

Oh, and I should have included writing my books!
I'm beginning to suspect I just have trouble concentrating on one thing.
But this works for me. Means I don't get up quite so often to snack as I normally might.

Lover of Books said...

I like reading in bed or on the couch depending on the day. :) So I understand the perfect reading spot. :)
Krista

Dru said...

My favorite spot is in my recliner located near the laptop, the TV and the terrace window.

Maggie Sefton said...

Mary Jane----I love reading outdoors, usually on my patio in the shade or under in my cozy shady area beneath a big hovering maple tree. But your deck looks wonderful! I'd plop down there with a book, too.

And thanks so much for dropping by today. Good to have you!

Heather said...

No special reading spot here, though I did spend a good portion of this weekend either reading in bed listening to falling rain, or curled up with a afghan on the living room couch (yes, our weather was that cool this weekend!).

Debra said...

In the winter, I settle in my sunny kitchen ,in a chair by the window with my fake woodstove providing heat for my toes. In the nice weather I like to sit outside on the kitchen porch or when it is too hot for that,on the living room sofa with my son's dog keeping me company.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Beds, maple trees, couches, dogs for company! You gals have it down pat.

Heather Webber said...

I love working in my PJs--definitely one of the perks of the job.

My favorite places to read are in the big cozy chair in the living room, snuggled in bed, or in the bathtub!

Vickie said...

I think my favorite place to read is in bed. I have all of my pillows, a bedside light and a big ol' stack of books.
The other place is having a sip'n'read at a coffee shop with a book and chai. That's what my purse book is for ideally. I keep it just in case Lady K decides to take a nap in her carseat, standing in line for...well...anything and for my beloved sip'n'reads.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

I am glad that you also have a purse book, Vickie! I am a big bed reader too (just thought I might spare you all that photo!)

MJ

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading in bed also, especially if it's raining outside and I'm dry inside! My cat enjoys keeping me compnay, of course. I also keep a book in my travel bag for reading on the train and at the dentist. So many books and so little time! Luckily, I will be retiring October 1st and will have more time to read.

Shirley in Baltimore

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Hi Shirley! I bet you have counted the minutes until October 1. Happy reading retirement! MJ

Aurian said...

I love reading lounging on the couch, covered with a blanket and with a mug of tea on the table next to me. Or in the bathtub, where I won't be distracted by the computer.
I always carry a book with me in my purse, no matter where I am going. Reading in the bus (don't forget to exit at the right stop!) and waiting in line or for the bus or stuff like that.

Linda McDonald said...

Welcome Mary Jane. Nice to see you here on the Cozy Chicks blog. I love reading in the bathtub, espeically on rainy nights. Another favorite spot is on the futon in our patio room. The room is full of light, and it decorated in a Hawaii/Island theme, so I feel like I'm on vacation.

Anonymous said...

More wonderful reading spots! Glad you agree that bathtubs are great reading spots. Thanks, Aurian and Linda. I appreciate the nice welcome, Linda! I know we frequent some of the same blogs. It's great to be here at 'the chicks!'

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Oops! That was me commenting on your lovely comments, Aurian and Linda!

MUST. BE. CAREFUL.

Barbara Hussey said...

I like to read in bed on a Saturday morning while I luxuriate in the knowledge that I didn't have to wake up to a blaring alarm. But I do most of my reading while commuting to work since I can't drive. My eyesight may not let me drive, but it's never stopped me from reading!

Bettyann said...

I love to read in bed, in a comfy chair by the window, on the bus, in the car, on a boat...anywhere..sorry Dr. Suess...Mary Jane just finished reading Closet Confidential--loved the characters and writing...

Laineshots said...

My ideal reading spot? Your dock, Mary Jane! Other than that...I really enjoy being vaguely aware of the breeze ruffling my hair, of birds' calls (as long as I'm not directly under their line of fire)...and/or snuggled into someplace comfy--whatever that means at the time and season--with a cup of tea beside me.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Barbara, faced with a choice between reading and driving and reading wins, hands down.

Thanks, Betty Ann! I am glad you liked Closet Confidential! Glad to see that touch of Seuss too,

Laineshots - I love reading outside too. You do have to watch the birds and their aim.

Cheers, MJ

paul magrs said...

Great post! It's so important to have just the right spot to read in. Not to comfy that you fall asleep - and with enough space for our cat to join me. Now it's autumn , the Beach Hut at the bottom of the garden is just a bit cool for reading the afternoons away...

BTW - I love your series about the de-cluttering detective. But they made me nervous about the amount of stuff in our house..!

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Thanks, Paul. Ooh, Beach Hut at the bottom of the garden. Love that. Thanks for your nice comments about the Charlotte Adams series. She makes me nervous too!

mj

Valerie Consoer said...

Sheila and MJ, I'm so glad to hear that I'm not alone in my multi-tasking, ADD tendencies. Most days, I leave my open laptop (believe it or not) on my lap and logged in to the internet and I'll cruise around on it for a while, read a few pages, channel surf on TV (rarely), and love on the snoring kitty sitting on the right arm of the big fluffy green chair that I frequent. I, too, like to edit and write my own books from time to time as well. No, I'm not published yet, but some day soon you girls will see my name in print as well. But in the meantime, I take root in my big comfy, green chair and turn the antique lamp on and dive into another world that I wish to be a part of. Sometimes, I do the couch-nap-read routine, but tend to take part in the nap more than read aspect. I, too, have a book in the purse for doctor visits, appointments, and anytime I'm forced to wait for something. There's a book next to my comfy chair and plenty of more books in my TBR pile. Ho-hum, such as life. Read on girls!