I am a bibliophile. I love books–I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. At age five, I turned down the Barbie doll suggested by Santa in favor of a bookcase, because “then I won’t have to sleep with all my books under my pillow anymore.” Yes. I was that kid–the one who had her Book-It goal met in the first seventy-two hours of the month. (It also meant we got to go to Pizza Hut so I could claim my prize of a free personal pan pizza–does it get better than pizza and books? I submit that it does not.)
I grew up to be an adult who never has less than four books going simultaneously at any one time (the logic is I will always be in the mood for one of them.) I fantasize about having a library in my house with one of those ladders with the wheels on the bottom that you can roll around the room. And I know I preach to the choir when I say this, but, let’s be real here–the book is always better than the movie.
So, suffice it to say, reading matters to me. Ambiance also matters to me. This is why I am offended by people whose homes don’t have any sort of personality. To modify the words of animal rights activists–Rooms Are People, Too. And I believe strongly in creating rooms that are a haven against the crazy, busy, never-slow-down-y world out there.
Occasionally, I go on these Pinterest binges in which I create extensive boards of rooms and houses and decorating I love (but will never be able to afford.) There are a lot of idyllic, romantic reading nooks on these boards, if we’re being honest. They usually involve bay windows and soft, muslin curtains and masses of pillows…or roaring fire places and top end, hand-knitted Merino wool blankets and steaming mugs of Fill-In-Hot-Beverage-of-Your-Choice-Here…and books. Lots of books. Lots of old, hardbound books. Lots of old, hardvound books that smell of that peculiar blend of wood and vanilla.
Ah, it’s all beautiful, I tell you. And when I get around to marrying a rich man and get my manor in the English countryside, I will get right on all of this. I will have a million book nooks in all the places.
But back on Planet Earth, where I work for a living and call a little one-bedroom apartment home, it’s not quite that simple. I do have the advantage of at least living in a building built in the 1920’s, so I have arched doorways and a real, old-fashioned party line phone on the wall, so I do have some of that old-fashioned charm. But there aren’t a lot of “nooks” to speak of. I don’t really have enough space to have nooks. Nor do I have a bay window. And a fireplace is right out.
But as of yesterday, I officially have a real reading corner–it’s not hidden away in a secret corner (superior, naturally, for its obvious Gothic novel overtones), and I didn’t “discover it.” My reading corner has been evolving over the past several months. It had a lot going for it from the start–the big window, the hand-me-down wing back chair, its proximity to the bust of Persephone on my bookcase (all very Grecian and classical–clearly English manor-worthy.) But I’ve been adding to it. I recently got into the joys of candles. (Thanks, Hygge…) The lamp behind the chair was a big find–an impulse stop at Goodwill that gave me with that warm, buttery glow which masks how much light it actually produces. (Eat your heart out, Design on a Dime.) Then only yesterday, I finished crocheting and stuffing that poof on the floor. It may look funny to you, but that, my friend, is a 100% homemade, made-to-match ottoman–it is impossible to have a reading nook, as any sensible person will tell you, with your feet on the floor. They have to be curled under you, or flung carelessly over the arm of a chair, or up on a footrest. It is a reading nook must.
For the maiden voyage of my reading corner, I had to pick something appropriately lengthy and classic and beloved. Hardbound binding is an unspoken requirement. (I mean, if you’re going to go for it, you have to really go for it.) You can’t tell from the photo, but the book resting on the chair is, in fact, Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring–it fits the whole “wing-back chair, English country manor” motif, I think.
There will of course be other, shorter, and probably more inconsequential books read on that chair, ones that are fluffy, ones that have great voice, and ones that won’t. There will be ones I don’t like. But I’ll tell you what. That reading nook is the kind of place where great books get read. Can’t you just see someone finishing War and Peace in that chair? (Not me. Someone else. I can’t even get through the book jacket synopsis of that book without losing interest…) But great things can happen in a corner like that. Great ideas for books yet unwritten can happen in a spot like that–I’m telling you, it could happen.
Like I said, I’m a big one for ambiance. And books. All the books.