Where Do We Read?

As you may know I am away on a reading retreat this weekend and I am hoping I will be back with some pictures of the stunning reading views I have encountered, as well as some of the fun and frolics. Some people might think that you don’t need a nice view to read, after all aren’t we all just staring at the page. I myself think that environment is important when you are reading. For example I find it really hard to read anywhere where people are talking, in London I am fortunate as very few people like to talk to each other on the underground during commuting hours. I thought I would start a mini project which I am hoping you will all get involved with both in words and in images, read on and I will explain…

A few weeks ago (which shows you how long I have been plotting a post like this) I decided that I would take pictures of some of the places I read during a fortnight, or if I happened to end up reading anywhere special. I was surprised in how many places I stopped and read, especially as I didn’t record all of them, when I looked back at them all. Here are the results…

Anita Brookner in Somerset House…

Neil Bartlett on a bench in London’s east end…

Evelyn Waugh on my knees (yes those are my pyjama patterns) in bed or on the sofa…

Horace Walpole in the bath…

Natasha Solomon’s in St James Park (my favourite park in London)…

Sophie Hannah on the tube…

It’s quite a mixed bag isn’t it? So I thought I would ask if you guys would do a couple of things for me. The first of which is to answer three quick questions for me;

  1. Where is your favourite place to read?
  2. Where can you simply not read for love nor money?
  3. What’s the strangest place you have read?

The next thing I wondered relates to the last question a little. I wondered if you had any pictures of a book you have been reading in a really bizarre place and if you would like to share them? Or do you have a picture of the environment of your favourite reading spot? If so, how about sending me a picture or two. I thought it would be interesting to see the results either in a post at a later date, on a separate page, or in my bookish bits each week? Might give us more of an idea where we all read and get to know each other better? What do you say?


Filed under Book Thoughts

26 responses to “Where Do We Read?

  1. I’m totally in! I had this same idea a while back but never did anything about it (mostly because it was winter and all of my reading was indoors). I will take some photos in the next couple of weeks. I’m excited!

    1. My favorite place to read is in the front yard (when it’s not raining) or in bed when it is. I rotate between a chair, a blanket on the lawn and sitting on the front steps.

    2. I can’t read while driving (not as the driver but as the passenger) because I get motion sick. After about 2 minutes, I feel like hurling. I don’t know if I would feel the same on public transport because I don’t use it but I do sometimes have problems reading on airplanes if it’s not a perfectly smooth flight.

    3. The strangest place I’ve read is probably when I was a kid and one of my favorite places to read was under my bed. Then I could block everything out and just focus on the book.

  2. gaskella

    I can generally read anywhere indoors, but never in cars, buses, or coaches due to motion sickness, although trains and planes are OK. Outdoors environments distract me totally, but I can read happily with radio or telly or people talking in the background.

    Depending on music choice I can or cannot read listening to my iPod – Daughter had a friend over yesterday and they were being elephants upstairs – so put on the headphones and dialled in the ‘Alabama 3’ got to ‘Woke up this morning …’ and I couldn’t concentrate at all. (I do miss the Sopranos, and BTW I discovered the Alabama 3 (a great South London band) before they used them for the theme tune – so there!).

  3. What a good idea, for me my favorite place is the sofa. I cannot read on buses or cars due to the motion sickness.

    Strangest place? While nursing my son in the middle of many sleepless nights when he was newborn I did read the twilight saga with one hand.

  4. What fun!

    1. My favorite place to read is, well, anywhere, but my usual chosen place is my living room sofa, although on a pretty day I like to go sit by the Potomac River somewhere.

    2. Absolutely cannot read in a car because of motion sickness. I can manage sometimes on public transportation, but if it’s at all warm, the motion sickness sets in, so I usually don’t try.

    3. I can’t think of anyplace really strange, but I have been told that it was weird to read Brothers Karamazov at the beach. The beach is of course an obvious place to read, but apparently reading a heavy classic there is odd.

  5. Lovely photos, Simon! The PJs are groovy too.

    I read anywhere that I can but, like others, I cannot read in the car without feeling ill; it’s very frustrating, especially on those 8hr journeys from London to Glasgow and back again (quality reading time scuppered by motion sickness).

    My favourite place to read is bed; I love being curled up in the duvet with a good book that I can’t put down until my eye-lids droop.

    Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday – it seems like ages!

  6. I love hearing about other people’s reading habits (and not just their reading material) so I’ll look forward to reading the other answers!

    I can read anywhere. Loud or quiet, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve read books while fishing off the coast of northern BC, where my companions were mercifully silent (unless a fish hit) and the only noise was the occasional eagle or whale. I’ve also read books in the middle of sports stadiums, surrounded by thousands of screaming fans. And, really, I barely noticed the difference between the two places.

    My favourite place to read would, without a doubt, be the reading room at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, which is far more like a library in a private home than a room meant for student use. It’s a 15th Century moated castle that is owned by a Canadian University and was converted into a campus. The library and reading room are at the back of the building, overlooking the amazing gardens, and because the school is so small (only a few hundred students on exchange there per term) – and, just maybe, because there’s a pub on the other side of the building – I could spend hours there alone. It was absolutely perfect. However, for day-to-day reading, I am rather fond of the armchair in my living room, right next to a bright, sunny window.

  7. Linda P

    An interesting post, Simon! I hope you’re enjoying your reading retreat in the countryside.
    My favourite place for reading in England is sitting on the sofa by the window that looks out onto the greenery of the back garden. When we are at home in Italy I read in the garden/vineyard, usually relaxing in a hammock.
    I can read anywhere and can block out most distractions, but the Italian retreat house is particularly good as the location is so quiet and isolated within a wooded valley in the mountains.
    You might be able to access my profile to see a relevant photo as I have just started a ‘proper’ book blog (which I had to learn to create, having no technical knowledge or anyone to advise me)! Work in progress, but inspired my all the other bloggers who love reading.
    The only place I can think of that was sort of strange was when I was about to produce our second daughter. I can remember sitting in bed reading Anne of Green Gables – you’ll remember from my last post to you that it’s my ‘comfort’ read!
    On the whole I’m never without a book to read!

  8. Ditto reading in cars, impossible, but can read on buses if not too full of people, other folks conversations put me off.

    Fave place is in bed, I can see an 12th century castle ruin from my window, so when the eyes start to strain I can gaze at the view, also love my sofa, curled up with a pot of tea and a cake.

    Strangest place was a couple of years back, I fractured my hip, so spent long hours in clinic waiting rooms surrounded by people with various limbs in plaster and an air of gloom. I was reading ‘Under the Net’ by Iris Murdoch and some some weird reason imagined Boris Johnson as Hugo ( must have been something in the air)

  9. This is such a fun idea!! I read best in very crowded, noisy places like cafes, restaurants, train stations, airports. It’s crazy but the white noise of the crowd really helps me immerse myself in the book I’m reading.

    I love reading on trains, which I really only get to do when travelling in Europe. We have trains in America but nothing like you all have. My spouse gets a bit mad at me because I’m not looking at the wonderful countryside as we travel through Germany or Portugal or England. He doesn’t understand….I’m riding on a train in Germany heading towards Berlin reading Christopher Isherwood stories about living in Berlin!!!!

  10. Darla LaRoche

    My favorite place to read is in my book room at the top of the stairs. I’m surrounded by bookshelves, sitting on the love seat underneath the eaves with two skylights where I can watch the swaying trees or floating clouds.

    I can read anywhere if the book is engrossing! I am so lucky to be able to read in cars, boats, trains, etc.

    My strangest reading area was in the claw-foot tub in our upstairs bathroom in my childhood home. I would pad it with blankets and pillows and “hide away”. No water, of course! Good thing we had more than one bathroom.

  11. 1. My favorite place to read is at my parents’ place, in the living room, when one or more of my sisters is also there reading, so we can easily look up and chat with each other about things that are going on in the book.

    2. I can read in cars and on trains! Which seems to be the problem for most people so far. But I have a very hard time reading in libraries. I don’t know why it is, but sitting in a library reading a book never works for me.

    3. The strangest place I have ever read – I don’t know! I remember reading Rumer Godden on a whaling trip once, all bundled up because it was freezing out on the water.

  12. Cindy S

    great post and pics!

    1. my fav place to read is curled up in bed.
    2. I can read just about anywhere unless I’m standing without something to lean on. without something to lean on, I start to sway and get nauseous.
    3. I guess the strangest place I’ve read is during an MRI.

    hope you are having a terrific time.

  13. Norman

    Hello from Australia Simon. A fabulous post! The pyjama pic has done it for me-brilliant; but oh how I wish you had read Brookner in pyjamas, slippers and a cardigan! All three elements communicate the “beddy” mood of Brookner’s novels. However, the picture would have been perfect if you had been reading Barbara Pym [perhaps “Quartet in Autumn”]. Poor Barbara receives scant attention these days.

    My favourite place to read is in bed.

    I simply cannot read in public places [aircraft excepted].

    The strangest place I have read is in the Business Class toilet of A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380.

  14. wigsonthegreen

    Hi Simon ~ I’m a recent convert to your blog but have already discovered some excellent reads from your reviews and am looking forward to many more.
    My favorite place to read is in the back garden whilst the sun is setting with a glass of wine to hand and a cat purring at my feet (summer only alas which makes it all the more special).
    The worst place is in the same room as a TV action movie or Radio 4 – much too distracting.
    The strangest place is probably at an auction (which I do regularly) whilst waiting for my lot to come up – the wait can be nerve-wrecking but a good book eases the tension.

  15. 1. My favorite place to read is in bed or laying on the sofa in the living room. I have to be comfortable to settle into a good book and those two spots are the most comfortable.

    2. I cannot read when I am in transit – car, train, bus and plane. And I cannot read in the library either – I think its due to the fact that nowadays libraries are not as quiet as they used to be. I need quiet to read. Or maybe its just the libraries I’ve been to. Hmmm.

    3. The strangest place I’ve read is sitting on the ledge of the window at my uni’s english building. It was on the top floor and you could sit on the ledge with your feet dangling out of the building and people watch. I would take my books up there and read – Loved it! And the crazy thing is that I am afraid of heights, but for some reason I never worried I would fall out the window. Oh and I suppose the reading room we had was also strange – it was filled with stained glass windows so the lighting was always a bit off.

  16. Ti

    1. Where is your favourite place to read?

    My fave place to read is in my room, in bed.

    2. Where can you simply not read for love nor money?

    I cannot read in the car or on a bus or train. I get carsick so easily.

    3. What’s the strangest place you have read?

    I work at a university and just a few weeks ago, the students were sort of loud and obnoxious and the squirrels were attacking me so I climbed up onto an A/C compressor (HUGE and FLAT) and stretched out right on top of it. It was loud but like white noise and sort of hidden and secret.

    I love your reading shots!

  17. Pingback: A Quick Bookish Picture Quiz (With Prizes) « Savidge Reads

  18. I love pictures of people reading (or books being read in different locations.) So exciting!

    1) My favourite place to read is in bed.
    2) I can’t read if I’m with people I know (except for family). I feel I have to converse instead.
    3) The strangest place I’ve read is in a cupboard where they keep futons in my Japanese grandparents house. I’d lie on the folded futons, close the paper door and read with a torch. So cool, so quiet and so comfy.

  19. Dan P.

    1. In winter on the heating vent with a blanket.
    2. Anywhere too public. Though I often have a book with me as a safety blanket anyways.
    3. As a kid I liked to read under the racks of clothing when my mom was shopping.

  20. mee

    I actually have the perfect picture for the strangest place I’ve read a book, from the same angle of the pictures you took above. It’s on the very dirty dark low-class ferry in Indonesia and I was reading Rebecca (duMaurier). It was just weird to see lots of poor people sleeping on the floor and everything while I read about a great rich mansion. It so does not match!

  21. Thank you to everyone who has commented on this so far… I am not going to reply to you all as want to compile these, and any more that come in for a further post over the next week or so!! Meant lots to me so many of you have done it already!

  22. You can see my favourite place where I do a lot of reading on my profile and blog link.

    I’ve enjoyed all your recent photos of places where you read and of your break away in the woods and surrounding area!

  23. Pingback: Simon’s Bookish Bits #24 « Savidge Reads

  24. Pingback: Where Do We Read? « the little reader

  25. i love the idea so much that i posted my pictures up on my blog.

    as for the questions, my favorite place to read is on the couch.

    like many others who have commented before, i cannot read in a moving vehicle or i’ll get motion sickness.

    the strangest place i’ve read is probably in church every week. (i hope i don’t offend anyone) i used to play piano for a church as a paid job and would read between playing. i did that every sunday for about two years.

  26. Favourite place in bed. Right now in melbourne so since I dont want to be in anyone’s way its the lounge! But I also love reading in the Carnegie library. Its a peaceful and quiet place.

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