Books

The Perfect Reading Nook

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How to find the platonic ideal of a place and position in which to read.

The perfect reading nook exists, I am sure of it. I am confident because I have experienced this nirvana personally. Let me tell you, it feels as if one is supping from the very vessel used during the Last Supper — provided you choose the correct chalice, of course. While many have explored this path before, searching for superiority in literary comfort, and found naught but personal ruin and destruction, the recipe for peak hard- or soft-cover consumption is quite simple. One only needs a plush wingback chair — along with, ideally, a warm fire and a purring cat (or a snoozing dog) nearby.

A wingback chair is essential for two reasons. The first is that a proper wingback does not recline and induce the reader to sleep when the brilliance of the printed word is close at hand. Was it not McTeague who stupefied himself in his own dental chair? The beer may have had something to do with it, but more than that, the angle of his body convinced him to eschew personal development and embrace stupor. Perhaps he would not have met so evil an end if he had only acquired a proper plaid wingback.

The second value of the fabulous wingback is its winged nature. While we humans pride ourselves on our reason and intelligence, it sometimes takes a pair of blinders to allow our rebellious brains to focus on the book at hand. The overstuffed wings amply block out distraction. As long as you didn’t leave a candle unattended next to your trove of pandemic toilet-paper stores, it is a very fine feature indeed.

Speaking of fire, it cannot be overestimated in its capacity for promulgating proper book-nookery. A cold reader is an uncomfortable one, and all measures must be taken to allow the reader to immerse him or herself within the author’s constructed realm. Matters of the physical — temperature, food, etc. — must assist in, not detract from, the experience. A crackling fire not only keeps the bookworm’s temperature satisfactory but also lends white noise, which drowns out honking cars, snowblowers, Outlook dings notifying you a professor has just eviscerated your paper, and all other matters of loathsome reality. The fire dissipates the materiality while simultaneously expanding the province of one’s chosen tome.

Let us not forget the crossing of one’s legs in our haste to construct our nooks. While it might seem superfluous to some, and against the suggested reading posture of orthopedic surgeons to others, a crossed leg is vital to a well-sorted reading space. Ankle-on-the-knee-only-ists need not apply.

Now comes the clincher. A cat-on-the-lap — not to be confused with the Seussian, behatted variety — or a dog-on-the-feet cannot be done without if you are to enjoy the platonic ideal of a reading corner. These creatures will keep you in your seat even as a washing machine utters its belligerent note, for how could you disturb such contented animals? And if you should make a move to answer the trivial demands of your household appliances, will these furry fellows not remonstrate you with a glare for your flightiness? For they know there are really very few adequate reasons to get up. We ever see the mundane task as pressing, and your critter of choice knows this to be fallacious and instills this awareness by example. When your cat or dog stretches in her dramatic fashion and gets up, then it is probably time to be on your way, but rarely a moment before.

And that’s the formula. Of course, we live in a world with finite resources and practical considerations, and it is more than likely that moving a wingback chair to a seventh-floor apartment/dorm or into one’s basement could be infeasible. With that said, I urge you to realize as much of what I have written as you are able. Find a crackling fireplace on YouTube, the least decrepit chair at your local café, and take some time to relax with a book. I think it will do you well.

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