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?