The context in which we read a book can often heighten the experience – the words on the page become infused with the memories of when and where you were at the time. When I’m home I prefer to read in the Front Room, when everybody else is busy doing whatever it is they do; I’ll curl up by the fire with no distractions and slip into a different world. In Lockdown, reading in the garden and the summer heat was often the best part of the day: the cool breeze and relaxed environment allowing me to focus on the story.
However, this luxury of a cosy reading spot is not always one that is afforded to me; the fondest memories I have of reading are surprisingly those from when I was far less comfortable.
On the Tube being jostled about by the passengers and only able to read a few lines of Bukowski at a time, before being interrupted by a tannoy announcement or having to change seats. On holiday in Prague with no money and a dead phone I sat in the shade of Wawel Castle with time to kill; my tattered copy of Less Than Zero repeatedly tucked and untucked back into my pocket, stained with coffee and cigarette ash. When I recall these books the ‘spot’ itself adds nuance to the words on the page and becomes interwoven with the context of my own feelings at the time, immersing me further into the texts.
Reading on the go is difficult but also rewarding as I know when i’m especially hooked on a book I cannot waste a minute without it. These spots have oddly become my favourite, because you know if you’re willing to put up with these discomforts it must be a truly special piece of art.
Image: andre.douque via Flickr