Loudness is everywhere, especially when you are awake: the world, the internet, your head – everywhere. It takes a bit of effort to create the sensory and mental space necessary for reading. Here are a few spaces, of varying accessibility, that work particularly well. Use them as starting points for discovering the spaces that will work for you.
1. In bed – It is typically quiet, and you are comfy. Caveat: if you have a Significant Other next to you, they really need to be on board with your reading. If they, for some reason, “want to talk” [eye roll], then you are going to have trouble. If you do not have an S.O., then reading will stifle the crushing loneliness. Best practices: turn off your damn phone.
2. A quiet patio or garden, with ambient but uninvolving background – It is pleasant to read outdoors, whilst indulging in a cigar, a cup of tea, or some other vice. A small table or other surface is helpful; you don’t want to juggle a beverage every time you need to turn a page. If it is a vegetable garden, so much the better: you can pee in there, saving you the momentum-breaking trip inside to a “proper” restroom, and it is typically good for the veggies. (Note: don’t pee on the veggies, pee on the soil around them.) The vegetable garden should be private. A community garden will not work for reading in terms of quiet or for the peeing bit.
3. A plane – It can be tough to do anything on a plane, on account of the cramped quarters (at least in coach) and the fact that you can’t go anywhere but your seat and the restroom. On the other hand, think how freeing that is: you have very limited options, and reading is one of them. If you can resist watching movies, and are lucky enough to be sitting next to someone who doesn’t “want to talk”, then you can plunge into your reading material without the buzzing distractions of everyday life. You are your book’s captive audience. Also, a plane has advantages over someplace like a subway, because you are never in danger of missing your stop.
4. Wherever you are when you are sick – This could be bed (see above), a sofa, the hospital – wherever they put sick people. You will, of course, be physically uncomfortable, on account of your illness, but if you can manage a narrow focus thru your malignant haze, a book will be as good as or better than opium in dulling your discomfort. It is possible to enter a Zone, and you will kill many hours in that Zone, while your body heals. Bonus points if you read something enhanced by your illness. For example, I read The Plague when home sick in high school. Perfect.
5. Opium den – Whether busy or not, everyone is super chill. Don’t do the opium, but definitely enjoy the ambience. Bring one of those little book lights, as the lights will (or should) be dimmed.
6. On a round sofa/bed – Holy god – these things are magic for reading. It’s a tabula rasa of reading positions. You could put this in the middle of the 10 Freeway at 4:30 pm and still crank out a hundred pages, easy. You can sit up, you can lie prone or supine, over the edge – excellent for the Sexy Roman. If the thing is big enough, you can get lost in the story with no fear of falling off the furniture as you roll around in ecstasy. They should be called “Reading couches” cuz that’s what they are.
7. Somewhere with loud running water – Next to a waterfall, in the shower, on the veranda in a rainstorm – The white noise of the water cancels out everything.
8. On a spaceship while the rest of the crew is still in hypersleep – They won’t be awake for another 20 or 30 years, so you can read as much as you want. The robots bring you food, and you just sit near a porthole, filled with the black vacuum of space. Bliss.
9. An Eternity Room – These have not been invented yet, but we will build one of our own about 60 years from now. This is a fold in space/time. Slip inside, and you can read (or whatever else you wanna do) for as long as you want. When you reemerge, no time will have elapsed. This totally works for getting through a lot of books or reading guilt-free, when you have other responsibilities, but does not work if you read to kill time. You will kill exactly zero time. (Also, we will have a good number of round sofas in our Eternity Room.)
The WORST place for reading is an employee break room. Unless you are alone, all you will hear is “bitch bitch bitch” about bosses, fellow employees and customers the entire time, on top of whatever wretched smells reach out from the never-cleaned microwave cuz you work with pirates. I’d rather read in a utility closet full of ancient, industrial mop buckets.
If you can go back in time and get yourself sealed in an Egyptian tomb, you will be able to read uninterrupted for quite a while. Bring snacks, a light source and a book you would literally die for.