On Twitter, Powell’s Books recently asked readers where their favorite place to read is. Of course, my first response was, “Anywhere there’s a book!” I mean, how can I pick just one favorite? If it’s a really good book, it doesn’t matter where I am reading it. I could be lounging in my favorite reading chair at home, sitting with a nice cup of coffee at a cafe, reclining on a beach or even standing in line at the grocery store.
I rarely leave home without a book. When other people pull out their smart phones to pass the time while waiting in line, I pull out a book. Even if I only manage a paragraph or two before it’s my turn, the time spent in the book world is worthwhile. It is a little escape from the noise and chaos around me.
Reading motivates me to go to the gym more than the idea that it will help me get in better shape. A trip to the gym means time on the stationary bike, which is a great place to read. A way to exercise while reading? Sign me up! When I am at the gym, I usually have to tune out the loud music, sports on TV screens and guys who shout across the gym to each other, “Hey, bro! You lifting weights today, bro?” A good book can take me out of all that noise and activity.
I was recently reading Around the World in Seventy-Two Days and Other Writings by Nellie Bly while on the stationary bike. I had just finished reading Bly’s interview with Susan B. Anthony when I looked up after I heard a cheer from a group of men standing directly behind me. Perhaps I underestimated the gym bros. Maybe they could take a break from staring at their muscles in the mirror to show enthusiasm for these two great feminist thinkers of the 19th century. Not so. I looked at the mirror in front of me and realized they were all looking above me at the TV. A baseball playoff game was drawing to a close. Sigh. As you were, bros.
There are a couple other readers who regularly use the bikes as a place to enjoy a good book or magazine. When I recently passed a fellow gym reader recently on my way to the bike, she eyed the book in my hand and gave me a knowing smile as though we were part of a secret gym book club. My favorite reader at the gym is the man who finds a way to drape newspapers and magazines over the handles on the recumbent bike as though the equipment was an exhibit on the modern reader in a museum of contemporary art. There is usually a stack of books and magazines on the floor next to him. I get it. Sometimes it can be hard to decide what to read, so why not bring options?
As the world gets louder and more and more advertising shouts for our attention, there seem to be fewer moments in our days where we get a moment of quiet escape. Books can still do that. Within a few sentences we can be transported to the English countryside during the Regency Era or to a place completely of the author’s imagination. It is for this reason that anywhere there is a book is my favorite place to read.
If I have to pick an actual place, it is this one: my big, red chair. I could spend hours there (and I have). Just put a cup of coffee by my side and good book in my hands.
Where do you like to read? Leave your response in the comments.