Monday, February 10, 2014

The Art of Reading: Inside vs. Outside


All bibliophiles have at least one thing in common: the love of books. Still, as I'm reminded every time I talk to another reader, that doesn't mean we express our affection for the written word in exactly the same way. I'm referring to how we read.

This post's theme: reading indoors versus reading outside. Do you prefer one over the other?

I’m primarily an indoor reader...but I’m living in Washington right now and (shocking reveal) weather plays a big role in this decision! Rain, snow, storms - they all increase the appeal of curling up in a warm home with a good book. Clear skies, moderate temperature - now reading in a park suddenly makes much more sense!

Of course, this question kind of becomes moot when we’re talking about truly addicted readers. I’ve read a book while walking across a street on the way to campus when ice coated the ground and the snow had begun to pick up again. The best books don’t wait for nitpicky atmosphere decisions; they must be read and they must be read now.

But if I can take a moment to be nitpicky, I usually avoid reading in any kind of wet weather that might damage pages or in wind strong enough that you have to keep fighting your book to stay on the right page. While sun is often a mark in favor of reading outside, my British-born pale, pale skin burns easily, so I won’t settle in to read in strong sunlight without scoping out some nearby shady spots first. And I always need to be comfortable. Reading on the grass works great...as long as said grass isn’t wet. Reading on benches, check...but there better not be a suspicious stain and I’ve come to hate artistically designed benches that feel unwelcoming as you shift around for a cozy position.

Aside from weather factors, though, there’s where you lie on the homebody scale as well as countless more circumstantial factors. I consider myself fairly introverted and a definite homebody who feels most comfortable in my own space. I’m far more likely to read outside when it’s in my own backyard or a park so nearby that feels like an extension of home. As for circumstantial factors, your schedule and where you live are two examples. If you work during the daytime, reading outside when you come home past sunset doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Or if you have only 15 minutes to spare for reading, you’ll most likely pull out your novel wherever you are rather than obsessing about where to go (or stay) first. As for where you live, if you don’t have a front or backyard and your neighborhood is lacking in parks and benches you probably find yourself reading inside more than people with convenient, favorite outdoor reading spots.

What about you? Where do you tend to read? Where do you prefer to read? Are your answers to those two questions different? Why?

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