Reading is about so much more than books. When non-readers roll their eyes at the idea of books, they miss the point that reading is about so much more than text. Of course we can be philosophical about books developing empathy skills, but I was thinking about the physical reading experience.
Books are not the only things which are important to the reading experience. There are little things which make reading even more of a pleasure. Sure, we can read in anywhere, but if you designed the perfect reading environment, what would the little touches be?
Here are nine things which make my reading experience –
Seating and cushions – It makes a difference. I like to read with my feet up, and a pile of cushions behind my back and shoulders. I love my huge cushion – firmer than a pillow, it turns what would be a slump into something which passes for sitting up. Blankets are important in the cold. My Mum is a prolific knitter, and only knits with pure wool. I’m well sorted for pretty blankets.
Hot Drink – I’m not up on a range of teas like some of my lovely Twitter friends, but I make a mean cup of tea. Pour the milk in first (how do those milk-after people measure??) and give the tea bag time to work it’s magic. Simples. I like a good hot chocolate too. I’m a chocolate-snob, but hot chocoalte? That sugar-packed chocolate drink works for me.
Stationery – I make notes. Lots of notes. I could do this on any scrap of paper, but there is so much pleasure in a beautiful notebook. I am a self-confessed Paperchase addict.
Bath Products – Whether you read in the bath or have a long soak afterwards to contemplate the story, you need good bath products . My favourite is Molten Brown’s Pink Pepperpod. Pepper is one of those scents which has been marketed to men for too long. Don’t let anybody genderise your bath bubbles. Pepper and Sandalwood are as refreshing as fruity and floral scents.
Chocolate – There is nothing better than good chocolate. Real chocolate uses cocoa butter, not vegetable oil. Last month, I visited one of my favourite chocolate places, Kennedy’s in Orton. It isn’t super-pricey, but it is good chocolate, and they have some wonderful combinations. I chose some chocolate for the top of my birthday cake. The St Clements (orange and lemon) didn’t make it on to the cake, but it was wickedly-good.
Candles – I prefer to read in good light, but I understand the attraction of candles. I have a scented candle I refuse to burn, because it makes my room smell … of my room, actually. It has become a defining smell. I love the range of ‘bookish’ candles available at William and Joseph.
Bookshelf Decoration –My bookshelves are pretty packed. I would love to be a bookstagramer, and get into the whole visual side of things, but at the moment I’m happy to admit that is not me. My shelves are cluttered, there is a beloved childhood toy on top of one and I had a great Lego display space until I acquired more Middle Grade fiction than I can otherwise store.
Declarations of Love to Favourite Books –
This is something the internet has got me into. Good old internet. Whether it is a necklace with a Narnia quote, a bookish GIF or a Hogwarts travel poster, there are any number of ways to declare undying love to a favourite book. I would like to see more bookish Christmas decorations. I have the cutest Wonderland tree decorations, but where is Peter Pan? Narnia? I also love these little wooden people, which are sold as toys, but actually double-up as cute and totally bookish tree decorations. Jesters? Kings? Zombie-Pirates? SOLD.
Book Chats –Reading a story is only the beginning. Talking to someone who has read the same book is like finding someone who has been on the same journey. It’s a scary thought. They have seen your special place with different eyes, and that can be difficult. It can also be wonderful. Hours can be spent reliving those journeys, colour can be added to your recollections and the friends I have loved most have without exception been bookish.