Saturday, 8 February 2014

Reading Out

Let me give you an image.

You’re outside. It is summer and it’s hot, but there’s a light breeze that makes the temperature just right. Dandelion seeds are lazily carried over the soft, springy grass underneath or are carried up into the lazuli sky. You pull your shoes off, sit down, and read.
Are you comfortable?

Heck no. Ants. Sunburn. Nothing to lean on. Grass stains, wind playing with your pages, grass pressing painfully into your elbows. Suddenly, reading in the garden/field/park doesn’t seem to be a thing you can do spontaneously without preparation. What you need is a reading kit.

Here’s a list of things to take with you when you’re an outdoor reader:

In the park:
You’ve been working your ass off and you can hear the birds outside calling your name. You deserve a break and some sunshine, so you prepare a picnic basket for one:
- blanket to avoid grass stains
- firm pillow to lean on or one of those collapsible thingies
- bookmark (preferably two to clasp your pages tight, for windproof reading)
- sun lotion
- hoodie (you never know when those clouds can come back)
- plastic bag to keep bugs from crawling into your things
- optional: food and drink that don’t spill easily. It isn’t easy to put down a half-empty can of soda on tall grass.
- Or: go sit on a bench like the others, and use your coat as a pillow so your butt doesn’t fall asleep on the hard surface. Didn’t you see the sign that you should stay off the grass?

In the city:
if you’re tired of shopping or walking and you just want to read for an hour or two before that one friend can come do that one thing with you, it can be hard to find that one spot where you’re allowed to sit for a long time without being judged. And what if it’s raining?
Coffee shops:
- money. Those chai lattes won’t pay for themselves, and it’s the only way to bribe the owner to let you stay a bit longer.
- music to block out the noise
- napkins.  if you’re going for the jar of bar nuts, you’re going to get orange fingers.
Train stations:
- music
- hoodie, hats, fingerless gloves and whatnot – it’s indoor, but stations can still be cold. Fingerless gloves are a must if you don’t want to pull a glove off every time you want to turn a page.
theatres (if you’re going to go to the theatre, you might as well go early and enjoy their plush seating with a book)
- flashlight
- napkins (sticky fingers!)
- shoes that are easy to slip off (no one will notice anyway, and no way that you can sit like that for so long)
Universities (that is, if you can pull off looking like a student)
- coins for the vending machine
- clock (in my experience, they’re always behind, early, or absent)
- nothing. You don’t even have to bring a book. Maybe a library card.

On a break whilst hiking/cycling:
-mud/rainproof bags. You want to keep your book safe and you don’t know how far the next shelter will be.
- umbrella
- something to drink. By the time you have reached your ideal reading destination, you will probably be tired and thirsty.

On public transport:
- a ticket (ideal bookmark!)
- music to shut out the noise of wailing babies or of girlfriends on their phone
- scarf/jacket to prop against the window as a pillow
- if you’re me, something against motion sickness

At the beach:
- don’t. your book is going to be covered in sand.

pebbly beaches:
that’s better.
- pillow/blanket for sitting on. Stones aren’t comfortable!
- bookmarkers to fight the wind
- hoodie for when it gets cold
- towel. When there’s water, stuff gets wet.
- waterproof bag

- two trees
- a hammock (not a wiry one unless you want to look like you wore giant fishnets)
- pillow
- someone to gently wave a palm leaf next to you ànd hold your drink

freezing feet, so comfortable!

the rim of the door feels so nice against my foot!
I wonder if my neighbor can see me from here.

reading a book isn't the same without a
wooden fence between your legs.

Reading in lots of different places somehow makes me end up with lots of different bookmarks. I’ve used receipts, postcards (ones I bought myself or got from others), ribbons, yarn, bits of cardboard, unused teabags, feathers, and whatnot. One of my favorite was a receipt for boots I bought in San Francisco, because it felt like it made me look cool. But well, duh. I read books. That’s a +5 charisma right there.

And you’re reading my blog, which is a +15 sexy.

Until next time,


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