If there is any feeling in the world that I want to chase, it is the feeling of devouring books. I’m thinking of being a grumpy teenager who was shipped off to see my grandparents for a couple of weeks in the middle of summer. I packed stacks of paperbacks I’d found in flea markets and in Friends of the Library stores. John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Maeve Binchy and the other biggest hits of the 90s were my travel companions. I hid in the finished basement on a couch upholstered in a funky 1970s plaid and leafed through book after book. I think of these days with such unadulterated joy. Oh, to get so caught up in someone’s fictional legal troubles or incurable Catholicism (I could understand) that I could swallow any book like so much root beer from the well at Pudgie’s, my grandmother’s favorite pizzeria.
I read until my grandmother wanted to feed me or shop, or until it was time for my grandfather to yell at the contestants on the wheel of fortune. An idyllic time. What would it take to get back to this place?
You cannot step into the same river twice
The real answer, of course, is a time machine. I had no responsibility and a grandmother who strictly refused to help with the household. Time stretched before me like an open highway. Apart from lottery jackpots, necromancy and the fountain of youth, none of these can come to my mind. And going back to the favorites from that era isn’t necessarily the answer. So the best I can do is cultivate a mood.
In my grandparents’ house there was nothing better to do than read. Sounds like I might have preferred to play video games, but no. I had the ideal setting for reading and capitalized on it. At home there is literally always something “better” to do than read. I try not to attribute morals to the troublesome practicalities in life, but it’s hard. Reading can feel like a luxury when there’s a sink full of dishes or floors that could take a good swing. So I have to create space for myself and get myself back into that mood. And this is where my book stands come in.
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Free your hands, free your mind
I have two valuable book stands. The first is this heavy standalone model that I roll around my house and on my porch. The second is a tabletop unit, perfect for travel. (If you’re looking for more book stand options, we have many more book stand options.) While these two stands will accommodate tablets or e-readers, they’re perfect for paper books. I don’t like to romanticize paper books over electronic versions, but I find paper books to be preferable to create the perfect mood for an extended reading session. For me, e-readers are a great way to grab more reading time from the rough edges of the day. That’s why I keep both with me.
The advantage of the book stand is that I have my hands free to fidget. This was never a part of my reading life in those happy days when I could easily disappear into a book, but now it certainly is. Smartphones may be to blame, but my phone is not allowed near my sacred reading room. My preferred form of fidgeting is knitting. It can take a few years to knit simple stitch patterns without looking, but honestly, there’s nothing quite like it. The rhythm of knitting puts me in the perfect mindset of calm concentration. I get the most out of what I read in this state and I honestly can’t recommend the combination enough.
While knitting is a productive form of fidgeting, there are plenty of things that will be done. The satisfyingly snappy pieces by Wacky Tracks, for example, have been constant companions since I was a child. Speaking of companions, petting a dog or cat while reading is much easier when you have a book stand. I am currently pet free, but I remember my beloved cat Purrsimmon’s seething resentment for books that stole her attention. If only I had one book stand back then.
The stands are especially handy in case I want to take notes on a book. I am someone who benefits from taking notes when books have many characters and numerous invented places / deities / concepts (Sarah J. Maas, you did that to me). There are many other situations in which I can benefit from the ease of jotting down, although for me this is mostly secondary to the actual purpose of the stands.
Ultimately, my book stands give me that extra degree of freedom that helps me focus on my book. From there I can continue building the mood if I want. A beautiful candle, a favorite drink, maybe some music of the rising and atmospheric variety. Enough to appeal to all of the senses. But I really think so, the reading stand and the fidgeting is often enough.
My wish for you
To say these boners changed my reading life is an understatement. Long books don’t put me off anymore. I will find that I have read a hundred pages in no time, an accomplishment I had missed for years. And even after a long day, reading can finally compete with screens.
I know I’m not alone with this dreamy, escapist reading feeling, so I wanted to share my one weird trick. Hope you find a trick that works for you and allow a day or two to get lost in a book because it’s the best place to find yourself.