The Sunday Salon -Reading Rituals

The Sunday

Upon waking this morning, I was pleased as punch to recall that today is one of my most favorite days of the year – better in some respects even than Christmas or my birthday.  After all, who in this busy modern age is not thrilled to have a 25 hour day, the precious gift of an extra 60 minutes with which to do as I please.

So, what will I do with that extra hour, granted so graciously by the governor of time (whoever that might be)?  It’s always a quandry, albeit a pleasant one, and I sit in my living room chair watching the sun rise across the way, the delicious scent of freshly brewed coffee wafting toward my nostrils, a novel by one of my favorite authors perched on my lap, and think that an extra hour of reading couldn’t be a better way to spend that time.

But despite my new novel and the short story collection I’m about to crack open (plucking one from the huge selection as one might choose a chocolate from a box of Valentine’s day candy)  I’m not thinking about reading per se as much as I am about reading rituals.  I’m sure you know what I’m talking about…the times and places in which we indulge our reading habit, the little habits that accompany our reading pleasues, which somehow mysteriously evolve into rituals nearly set in stone.

Personally, I’m a slave to my morning reading – well, I’m a slave to my bedtime reading too, and each has it’s own ritual of completion. Certainly there is no morning reading without coffee, and I often find myself leaning against the kitchen counter, book in hand, waiting impatiently for the hiss of hot water to finish, slow down to a gentle trickle, and then stop, signalling me that the dark, aromatic brew is now ready for pouring.  So, mug in hand (either the barrel shaped Italian porcelain mug I found in a bargain shop, or the tall, slender Dunoon stoneware painted with one of Monet’s waterlilies surrounding it) I head off to my favorite chair. 

Chairs are all important, aren’t they? We’ve known that ever since Golilocks made her advernturous journey through the Three Bears house.  I have a couple of favorite reading chairs, one of which is where I’m sitting right now.  A big, overstuffed chair alongside my living room window, one that has room for a little white dog to nestle at my side (or perch along the top just above my head) and an ottoman with space for the other to curl companionably at my feet.

I set my alarm clock early, so I have at least half an hour to read each morning.  This peaceful reading time is as necessary to my well being as the shot of insulin for the diabetic – if I miss it for some reason, I feel slightly “off” and the entire day goes awry.

In all honesty, I don’t know how or even when this ritual developed.  I remember as a child that I read through breakfast each morning, sitting at the kitchen table with my parents and grandparents, and I recall my father’s words on the morning of my wedding day as I walked in with newspaper in hand.

“Do you think I could see your face at breakfast just this once,” he asked, “since it’s your last day at home?”  after which I immediately burst into tears and ran from the table. <smiles>

When my son was a tiny baby, I recall taking him into bed with me in the morning, hoping for a few hours extra rest.  Occasionally, I could nurse him back to sleep, and he would lay nestled into my side while I propped my book open just behind his tiny back, straining my eyes to read in the dim early morning light, but fearful of turning on the bedside lamp in case I should wake him.  When he got a bit older, I remember propping him up against the pillows and reading to him in the morning, something that quickly became a ritual, as these things so often do with children, our little bookstack growing by leaps and bounds until there were about 13 picture books that must be read (at least once through) every morning.

These reading rituals appear to evolve and change over time, don’t they? based on our circumstances and the pattern of our lives in general.  The ability to read in peace and quiet each morning is quite a luxury, and I enjoy every minute of it.  On this particular Sunday, I have an extra 60 of those precious minutes to savor.   What could be more lovely?

Now tell me, what are your reading rituals and how have they changed during your life?


13 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon -Reading Rituals

  1. This brought lovely memories to the forefront, Becca. When my children were little, they chose two books from their shelf, and I chose one, every night before bed. They were clean and snugly in their footsie-jammies, and first one, then two, then three little ones were read to, tucked in the pillows against the head board. All those books are waiting for grandchildren – I can’t wait to start the ritual over again!
    I read in bed. Doesn’t matter what time of day it is. The dog stretches out against my leg, and I am propped up with lots of pillows and the light shining on my book. A row of books to choose from, between bookends I inherited from my grandma, sit on the table next to me. The simple pleasures of life!

  2. I, too, read in the mornings and at bedtime. Today was lovely because of the extra hour. I was able to read more than usual this morning. Then, just before I go to sleep – about an hour before – I’ll get more reading in. If I’m lucky I can read during the day, but usually not.

    Happy Sunday!

  3. What a wonderful post!

    I’m afraid my reading rituals are far less elegant. These days, I do much of my at-home reading either in bed or sprawled on the loveseat. When I choose the later option, I lie on my back with my feet resting on one arm of the sofa. I cross my ankles. My dog comes and perches on my thighs, or lies beside my belly. And we read.

    In bed, I read lying on my right side, the book propped up on a throw pillow. I flip onto my back only on rare occasions, and I almost never lie on my right side.

  4. Great post…I have two favorite reading rituals…I am a big morning reader (too tired to read at night), and I love to sit out on the back porch with my cup of coffee. I’ve also always been a big stomach reader, lying with my chin propped up on my hands.

  5. Oh, I have a reading chair, too! I didn’t really realize it, till I found myself often sitting there with a book! (My second spot is the end of the sofa — the right end, not the left, because the light is better!)

    I don’t have set reading times most of the year — I get it when I can, between all the other things. But in the summer, I make it a point (especially at the lake). I’ll head outside when it’s warm enough to be there, and stay as long as I can!

  6. I tend to read at night which isn’t always the best time as I can get into a book that I can never put down. I prefer to read in the mornings but my brain is more useful at that time of the day to write. I love your blog.

  7. I’ve recently adopted the habit of reading in the morning and it has helped me get more reading done. I have to wake my kids up at 5:30a to get ready for school, and last week I started taking my book downstairs with me while I wait for them to get ready. I’ve been having a problem concentrating when I read, but I don’t have that problem in the early morning hours. It’s much more difficult at night when the TV and the internet are calling my name :-).

  8. I just have to say thank you – it never dawned on me that today, with turning the clocks back an hour for daylight savings, is really a GIFT of time. What a beautiful, wonderful thought! All these years I’ve been doing this, and today because of what you’ve written, I’m seeing it as a gift! Thank you!

  9. Our clocks went back a week ago here in the UK. I don’t change all the clocks at once – I spread it out over a couple of days so that I can have the sensation of gaining an extra hour several times over!

  10. I have several favorite reading spots and habits. I read stretched out on the couch while my husband watches new or football (as long as the book isn’t too heavy for the distraction). I read to my daughter every night, snuggled next to her on the bed, after which she looks at books by herself until she falls asleep. When she’s in bed, I read in my own, often with the curled up on my stomach. My other favorite reading place is the bath, but in our new(ish) house the bathroom is too drafty to stay in for long. And I always did like reading on the bus, when I used to take it frequently… My mother read to me (and my sisters) every day as a child, and I’m so glad to continue the tradition with my daughter.

  11. Earlier this year I took up read a short story in the morning while having my breakfast and coffee in bed (if the short story is very short I read a bit more from any of the other books I am reading). Usually my cats join me on the bed for this half hour to 45mins of start-up time. A great way to start day and a new ritual I wouldn’t want to give up anymore!

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