As someone who loves reading, I (hopefully not just me) always have this struggle that time isn’t and never will be enough to finish reading books! As life got more overwhelming, I realized that I needed to start letting go of the mindset that books are to be read only at home. It was a challenging step for me because I used to read an average of 2 hours at a time, at home, without any sense of guilt about the life duties I was neglecting. But now I feel blessed if I am able to spend a full half hour reading. That’s why I started taking my reading habits outdoors, where I spend most of my time.
I let go the mindset of all or nothing when I noticed that catching several 5 or 10 minutes of reading throughout the day magically result in a long list of finished books. Reading outdoors enhanced my reading experience in many ways and as I discovered many of its perks I wanted to share them with you, my dear readers. That’s why I created this list of places to enjoy a good reading outside the comfort zone of your home:
1- On Wheels:
Whatever your way of commuting is, enjoying the ride with a good book is always a treat. The only struggle I faced with reading on a ride, in particular, is getting distracted by people’s mumbling and so I decided to use my headphones and play some background music (if the music doesn’t work, I play songs in a different language than the one I am reading in, anything but side conversations and babies’ cries!). If not paperbacks, we already hold our phones all ride long and, in case you drive yourself, then a loud and clear audiobook is the best way to start a day.
I became hooked on reading “on wheels” when I was reading an apocalyptic scene about a deserted land on a bus while passing by a massive deserted space with tumbleweeds and it really did the trick for the perfect reading atmosphere.
2-Where History and Art Live:
The special thing about reading in historical sites is picking a book that “fits” the atmosphere. The artistic and historical atmosphere would make any reading experience extra special, but imagine reading the biography of Pablo Picasso in an art museum, a historical novel in Mohamed Ali Palace, or a Sufi book in Al-Hakim Mosque, and these are just a few examples. Naturally, the reading part will come after finishing your tour. There are always seats and benches where you can just sit and get immersed in worlds way different than our own. The great thing is you can visit them anytime and always find places to read.
3-Silent Corners and Hidden Spots:
What connects these places is that they need an extra amount of effort to be found. One day I waited for a friend on a silent side street in Zamalek (which is almost always shaded and breezy) and I ended up finishing several chapters of my book and that’s how it all started. Also in universities or large working spaces, there are always silent and isolated corners; these are not horror movies’ or forever-alone places! They are exactly the perfect place to hide, sneaking away from reality. Another good option is newly opened coffee shops, obviously, you avoid the well-known and crowded ones. Maybe if I told you that Naguib Mahfouz used to write in downtown coffee shops you would be more encouraged, huh? There are endless spots and coffee shops to discover and make them places you connect with on a different level as they are exclusively your special reading spaces.
For so long, I believed that nothing compares to a cozy chair next to my tempting bookshelf and some homemade hot chocolate. However, taking my reading habit outdoors has made me appreciate most books when read in the right place and at the right time. Building this amazing relationship with my books and making them part of my busy days is one way of surviving the stress in this non-stopping cycle of life.
Thoughts? Would you like to take your books out for a date or two?
If you tried reading in any of these places or have more ones to add do share with us ! There is always space for part 2 😉