Earlier today, Rachel and I were talking music.  I’ve recently discovered that Rachel has pretty much my exact taste in music, but is also aware of a much larger list of musicians than I am.  She’s the workplace music soulmate I’ve been missing ever since Chasya left us for grad school.  She pointed me to a list of bands she loves that I should check out, which I decided to make my weekend reading background music playlist.

Toward the end of the week, when I have a big reading weekend planned (i.e. when life isn’t planning to intrude on my desire to curl up with a bunch of books and manuscripts), I start to get excited about the ritual of it.  If I’ll be reading at home, there’s preparation that needs doing.  For one, I need to know the order in which I’ll be reading things (so that I can disregard it later, oftentimes).  My Kindle and any books that will take part in our day together need to be stacked upon the coffee table in my living room.  Coffee, of course, must be brewed.  I will have to take the French press with me into the living room, even though pouring another cup will mean going to the kitchen to get milk anyway.  I’ll begin my reading with coffee in the morning, but transition to tea by early afternoon.  Perhaps at lunchtime, there’ll be a stroll about the neighborhood or quick bike ride, just to avoid losing my mind, or an errand to run.  Then, sufficiently wired from caffeine, in the late afternoon or early evening, it shall be time to break out the red wine.  If I can patiently make it through the day from breakfast through dinner—the reading compelling enough, the body not so fidgety, the soccer games of my favorite teams not beckoning me to distraction—then it’s probably time, before bed, to settle down with the thing I’ve most wanted to read, the one that I’ve been promising myself if I am good about reading the others without calling up a friend to make plans or watching TV or going for a bike ride.  And along with that dessert of a book, it’s probably time for a stiff drink of some kind (varying with weather and book).  Then, drained mentally and sleepy from the booze, it’ll be bedtime, eventually.

The reading will be done on the couch, because I lack an awesome reading chair like Michael’s, with liberal use of ottoman (of which I now own two—one bench-like, the other smallish and square).  There will be music, of course, as I mentioned—this weekend, Rachel’s favorite bands, but always something that I like enough to not feel the need to constantly DJ but don’t know well enough to know the words.  I read best with minor distraction from background noise, because total silence makes me look for something with which to distract myself, oddly.  Probably, given the weather, the windows will be wide open, with a cozy blanket close by for later in the evening, when it would be smart to close the windows but the chill is helping to keep me alert.  And of course, the clothes, they shall be comfy.

What about you?  Do you have reading rituals?  When you prepare yourself to really hunker down for a good spell with the written word, do you do things differently than you would to read on the morning commute or before bed or when just picking up the paper casually?  What helps you really immerse yourself in the worlds others present to you?

5 Responses to Ritual

  1. Catherine Whitney says:

    That sounds so delicious. Your weekend authors are a lucky group to be part of such a lovely ritual. The only thing missing is the food. I love reading about what people eat, so what’ll it be? Maybe a hearty bean soup for lunch…dumplings and grilled octopus for late afternoon…rare beef and asparagus in the evening..? Or there’s always sandwiches. I always enjoy it when people in books eat sandwiches, especially when they’re described. My favorite literary sandwiches are a crispy baguette with roast beef and horseradish sauce, and anything delicate and crustless that comes in small piles on a plate. Happy reading.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I enjoy silence. I too enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea. I can read with others around, but true joy comes from the comfort of silence.

  3. Suma says:

    I enjoy reading on silent afternoons and reading to sleep. I agree with Jennifer, true joy comes from the comfort of Silence. Thanks for sharing your ritual.


  4. Sarah Henson says:

    Rainy afternoons are the best. Coffee/Chai tea latte is a must. A comfy chair with enough light is desireable. I covet this leather club chair at my local Starbucks that is so soft and wonderful. Sometimes a snack, coffee cake or a cupcake, makes its way into my hands. If I’m at home, I prefer silence, but at a coffee shop the music doesn’t bother me as long as it isn’t too loud.

  5. Chris Shelley says:

    I love a good long train ride someplace, or flight, or bus ride, where I have several hours to kill and no internet or television to distract me. I actually long for these journeys precisely because reading is part of the ritual of passing time. At home, everything is so busy, there’s noise, there’s choice. 5 hour bus ride to Boston? Bring it on. 14 hour train ride to South Carolina? Can’t wait. 9 hour flight to Prague? Love it. Oh – and hot espresso is the perfect companion for reading.

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