Considering the number of hours I spend reading, where I read is pretty important.
No. 1 – In bed. This has been my favourite since I was little. It was probably the only place I could read for ages uninterrupted, without being told I always had my “nose in a book” or asked to come and do some chore. And reading under the covers when you’re supposed to be asleep was a subversive act – so reading was exciting!
No. 2 – On the settee – lying down, not sitting up, with lots of cushions head and foot. And cup of tea, maybe a snack, to hand.
No. 3 – in the garden…but for undisturbed comfort it’s a long way behind numbers 1 and 2. There’s sun in your eyes, flying things dropping into your drink, too hot (need more sun cream), too cold (need to go in and get that cardi). Plus noise. My tiny town garden is surrounded by neighbours, and sound carries: even a couple of roofers chatting many houses away will come across as clear as day. (Thanks, guys, I needed to know that stuff.)
I find reading on the beach or by a pool hopeless. You can’t pay attention to getting an even suntan and to the plot of the book, and it’s near-impossible to get comfortable for long. These days I keep to the shade.
But – I have just been on holiday and discovered my new favourite place to read: a hammock!
This was a proper comfy two-person-wide hammock, strung between towering pine trees. It was made of something that dried out rapidly after rain – an important consideration on an English holiday. Admittedly the surroundings were utterly peaceful, apart from birds and the gentle sound of a stream, and the occasional cow mooing over a hedge. Provided I could actually get in along with my book and my specs, feet as high as my head and gently swinging, I was sorted for a reading marathon.
In The Dangerous Discoveries of Gully Potchard, I made Gully wake in hammock and immediately fall out, while someone says, ‘Never slept in one before, have you, lad?’ I realise now that I’d never actually done the research – it’s easy enough to slide out of a hammock but how anyone got Gully in one without him knowing, even if he was more than half-asleep…well, that’s another matter.
Where is your favourite place for an uninterrupted read?