Reading, I think we can all agree, is a pretty good idea. It’s kind of a life-hack. For very little (and sometimes no) money, you can read all the thoughts of loads of clever and interesting people, give them a quick sprucing, and then regurgitate them as your own laundered gold. Hello money, friends, success and unending glory. But finding a suitably calm, relaxing, and non-hectic environment to do it in can have you tossing your book away and reaching instead for a KFC family bucket and the remote.
Right here, for free, purely out of the goodness of its small grey heart, the Pigeon is going to hit you with a break-down of where you should be slaying those chapters.
First up: it’s long, it’s rank, it’s grey: it’s THE PAVEMENT (or sidewalk, for those who wear pants, eat candy, and are American). Dangers include collisions with humans, lamp-posts, animals, and potentially traffic if your preoccupied brain and unsupervised feet wander you off course. Chronic book wobbling will result in a litany of reading errors, and you’ll find yourself wondering, as I once did, where the hell Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ baby came from! In addition to making you look like a bit of a fruit loop – although I’m pretty sure walky readers don’t give a monkeys about the public’s conception of them – this is neither an effective or a Zen reading technique. And is anyone really so busy that they have to squeeze in a page here and a page there while circumnavigating a treacherous, pot-holed curb?
Verdict: 3/10. Top marks for dedication to reading and attempting to save time; dragged down by impracticality and general silliness. Need escapism as you walk? Try the sky.
THE BATHTUB. Where do I start? The pitfalls of this aqueous, bibliophilic graveyard proliferate the more you probe its murky depths. Do you want the shelves of your house riddled with a pestilence that manifests itself in the leaves of books, corrugating their pristine pages into a bloated, yawning fan of sad-looking malformation, and condemning them to a life of eternal part-openness? If this sounds like the plague for you, then get naked, add yourself to a bath, and bring a book too. There’ll be splashing, sloshing, wet fingers, the dilemma of where to put it down, and a wondering of when to actually get some self-cleansing done – all of which will helpfully contribute to the gradual soggification of your tome and its subsequent resuscitation on the radiator.
Verdict: 1/10. There’s a reason library pools never took off. Don’t get naked in front of your poor little book.
Public transport. This might seem safe: you’re on land, you’re usually seated, you’ve got sweet, sweet free time to fill, and you’ve got a trusty novel to save you from the unthinkable prospect of doing nothing at all – an emptiness which might give your accusing inner demons carte blanche to run riot. Alas, be vigilant; you’re innocently skipping into another malevolent swamp of judgement, shame and, perhaps, death (not actually death, but something similarly undesirable). If you wap out your crumpled, well-thumbed (by others) edition of Ulysses, anyone familiar with Joyce’s canon will deem you either a worryingly studious commuter, or a peacocking fraud, whereas if Mr Nice is keeping your hands end eyes employed, the bus’s snob life will be mentally casting you into the human offal pile.
Verdict 8/10. Logistical jackpot – think Pot Noodle meets flying carpet. The pitfalls: creating a schism amongst your fellow commuters.
The big one. The Holy Grail. It’s BED. It’s the chocolate of reading locales – if you don’t like it, disbelieving (and quietly outraged) people will haunt and harry you like hungry dogs, until finally you accede, on your chocolate-smeared death bed, choking noisily on a Mars Bar. What’s not to like? You’re horizontal, you’re nice and secluded (unless this is a bed in IKEA’s showroom), it’s bonkers comfy, and whenever you get even slightly weary of your book, you can toss it away, roll over, and return to ambrosial unconsciousness without wasting any calories on stupid movement. Common pests include irritating spouses initiating conversation, chronic somnambulance and the inevitable realisation that sleeping is by far the most attractive pastime of all.
Verdict: 9/10. Could only be improved if your bed doubled as a giant hand that would pat you on the head, tell you you’re amazing and surprise you with occasional snacks.
THE PUB. Now I’m assuming that if you’re reading at a boozer, it’s probably either daytime, early evening, or a quiet night, because if you’re reading while shoulder-to-shoulder with a raft of sauced-up lash hounds, the social ignominy is too obvious for me to elaborate on. Empty pubs are a low-key honey pot for those lone wolves whose friends and family have deemed them not worth talking to – and if you’re in one, with them, you’re half-way there. Oh brave new world that has such nutters in it. Before you’ve even glanced at the contents these wittering lurkers will ambush you to quiz you on the book in your hand. They’ll interrupt your answer – visibly longing for the sound of their own voice – and will proceed with a monologue to sate your obvious (and yet well-hidden) curiosity about their entire life and as yet unpublished philosophical doctrine which unveils the confederacy of squirrels who are ruling the world, unbeknownst to us regular Luddites. Be warned: better known interrupters like girlfriends or boyfriends may look annoyed/insulted if you start reading when they are at the pub with you. I don’t know the reason for this but for a quiet life maybe humour them with conversation.
Verdict: 4/10. Pints cure everything, except this dilemma of where to read.
So that’s it. We’ve finally put this issue to bed – no worries. And if you’re reading this in bed then, well, you might as well have not bothered, since you’ve obviously discovered the sword of a thousand truths all on your own.
Let us know your favourite place to read in the comments, or find us on Twitter @ThePigeonholeHQ