My top five, all-time, favorite places to read a book in my city, in reverse order:
5. The park next to the library. Nothing particularly exciting or necessarily attractive about it, and it is next to the main drag, so there are annoying traffic sounds to contend with, but it is generally empty. This is a somewhat important feature of a reading spot. They don't need to be completely void of people, but it is important for it not to be too communal of a place. For one thing, if it is too popular, you may have trouble finding a place to comfortably sit, plus you will be hard pressed to have a favorite spot and be able to utilize it regularly – an essential element of a good reading place. True, the library attracts a collection of strange individuals that will gawk and stare shamelessly at you as they pass by, but that is one of the reasons this spot is fifth and not first.
4. The library itself. It edges out the park simply because it can be utilized in any weather and has comfy chairs. True, the same weirdoes who once just walked by you in the park are now sitting next to you, but generally the library is large enough for you to move to a small alcove where you can read alone and undisturbed. Plus, should the book you brought with you turn out to be a big dud, then there are plenty of other choices.
3. The coffee shop. An obvious and common choice to read at, but likely because of the convenient amenities – food, beverages, and the all important bathroom. One could conceivable have a reading marathon here. Should anyone desire to read literally ALL DAY in a public place, this is one of the few places that will accommodate. Unlike certain parks and other outdoor reading sites, the coffee shop allows a reader to indulge in their book without hunger, thirst, seating discomfort or the need to change their underwear. And, unlike other food establishments, the coffee house will not make you feel odd for reading alone or staying for extended periods of time. Four hours of reading at a table at Applebee’s will probably reward you with irritating stares from the wait staff and looks of pity from the families or couples at the nearby tables, not to mention sore ears from the screaming kids.
2. A bench by the river. This is definitely a favorite. A couple of people are usually observable, which is just enough to not make you feel nervous about being alone “down by the river”, but not enough to seriously annoy you or take your favorite bench. Plus, the river affords great views, and generally a bit of a breeze. Naturally, there are large shade trees, because no spot could reach this high on the list without adequate shading. This is one of the absolute most essential elements of a good reading spot. Sunburns and excessive sunscreen application do not bode well for a reading spot unless it involves the ocean. Even then, it is my firm belief that an umbrella is elemental and more enjoyable than having to wipe the sweat off of your book every few minutes, and trying to find the correct position to hold it in order to not have a book shaped tanning spot appear on your skin.
1. The walking circle park. This park consists of a large walking circle, with a playground in a small portion of the park, and the remaining area mostly consisting of trees. It is ideal because one can situate close to the playground on a bench for a bit of people watching in between chapters if desired, or venture further into the circle to a large shade tree for some quiet reading time. My favorite tree is there. It is located a good distance into the circle, so I am not disturbed by others, but still close enough to the playground to hear the occasional giggle or laugh escape from a child overjoyed to be flying down a slide or soaring through the air on a swing. The tree fits my back perfectly, and offers a cooling shadow from its leaves. Even on hot summer days, it is comfortable beneath its frame. And the friendly park squirrels hop around, unafraid to come close, but smart enough not to come too close. It is the quintessential reading spot.