What in the World: The perfect reading nook

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The perfect reading nook exists, I am sure of it. I am sure of it because I have experienced this nirvana personally, and, let me tell you, it feels as if one is supping from the very cup 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, a warm fire, a crossing of one’s legs just so and a purring cat upon the lap or a snoozing dog upon the feet.

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 printed word is close at hand. Was it not McTeague himself who stupefied himself in his own barber’s chair? The beer may have had something to do with it, but it far more was the angle of his body convincing 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 the winged nature of the chair. 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 toilet paper, causing the house to burn down around you, this is a very fine feature indeed. 

Speaking of fire, it cannot be underestimated in its capacity for promulgating proper book-nookery. A cold reader is an uncomfortable one, and all measures must be taken to allow the said reader to immerse themself within the book. Matters of the physical body — temperature, food, etc. — must 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 oneself that a professor has just eviscerated one’s paper and all other matters of loathsome reality. The fire pushes away the physical realm while simultaneously expanding the alternate reality of one’s book. 

Let us not forget the crossing of one’s legs. While this might seem superfluous to some and against the suggested reading posture of orthopedic surgeons to others, a crossed leg is essential to a well-sorted reading space. I offer the admittedly more effeminate right leg directly over the left, with the heel of the right foot dangling just above and to the left of its twin. While some may suggest the right ankle resting on the left knee — the more masculine posture — I find it deeply uncomfortable after more than a few minutes. The book nook is not for sexual messaging but ideal reading, and so the former posture is superior. Ankle-on-the-knee-only-ists need not apply.

Now comes the essential part. A cat-on-the-lap — not to be confused with the 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 look for your flightiness? For they know there are really very few good reasons to get up. We see the mundane task as pressing, and your critter of choice knows this to be fallacious and instills this wisdom by example. When your cat or dog stretches in their dramatic fashion and gets up, then it is probably time to get going — but rarely a moment before. 

How I wish you could have this of which I speak, dear reader. But we live in a world with finite resources and practical considerations, and it is more than likely that moving a wingback chair to the seventh level of Kohler Hall would be a monstrous hassle. All of this is true. However, I urge you to realize as much of what I have written as you are able. Find a crackling fireplace on YouTube, find the least decrepit chair in the lounge and take some time to relax with a book that has little, if any, educational value. I think it will do you well. 

Agree? Disagree? Have a favorite reading space you would like to share about? I look forward to hearing about it at abell@lawrence.edu.