- on commuter trains and buses (unless you're like me and suffer from gut-wrenching motion sickness);
- in airport terminals (hence the rise of "airport novels");
- at the beach (hence the inevitable newspaper reviews in June promoting "beach reads");
- at the park (while their spawn engage in random acts of mayhem and violence both upon others and themselves);
- at Starbucks or local home-grown coffeehouses;
- in restaurants while dining alone (or when affronted by tablemates fixated on their smart phones -- which behavior may or may not count as reading... but that's a question for another blog post); and, amazingly enough,
- in a public library!
However, not all library reading spaces are created equal. Just what turns a seating area -- a space with an arrangement of chairs -- into a great reading place, a spot that encourages lingering and where patrons feel comfortable enough to settle in for a good long bout of public perusing?
For Nature Boys (and Girls)
225 North Cross Street
This library is located just to the east of Adams Park and uses that to its great advantage in creating alluring patron reading areas on both its main and second floors. Both areas feature comfy chairs overlooking the green serenity of the trees and garden beds, as well as the paths that wind through the park. The second floor also has a Quiet Reading Room, which on select Fridays this summer, will not be soooo quiet. As part of the iREAD "Read to the Rhythm" Summer Reading Program, the library is running a "Quiet Music Reading Hour", from 3:30 to 4:30 pm, during which patrons can enjoy "quiet, wordless" music as a background to their reading.
125 S. Prospect Avenue
Another library situated next to greenspace, Elmhurst Public Library not only features a window wall overlooking soothing Wilder Park, but brings the outdoors inside with its lovely leaf carvings on the ends of its bookshelves. (OK, I'm a sucker for that kind of thing.) Ergonomic chairs, an airy ceiling, a "Silent Reading Salon," and a beguiling outdoor reading area with comfortable white benches set under the soothing shade of blossoming trees all seductively whisper "read... read here... now."
28W751 Stafford Place
Here's a gem of a library with the Illinois Prairie Path on its front steps and a fabulous greenspace called "The Commons" as its backyard. The area set aside for reading is not especially large, but it has great views and wonderful pendant lighting that enhances it cozy atmosphere. The evening that I visited a band was playing outside, a nice selection of dusties from the '60s and '70s. Sure enough, the library hosts "Concerts in the Commons" on Wednesday evenings during the summer months, which, depending on the type of music, might distract from your reading. On the other hand, it might encourage you to dance!
Light My Reading Fire
125 Municipal Drive
I have blogged about this beautiful library and its troubled history in an earlier post, but today I would like to feature its lovely, two-way stone fireplace, which can be enjoyed in both the main room of the library and a quiet room on the south side of the building. This is truly an all-season delight that entices its patrons to warm up or chill out with a good read.
7851 Timber Drive
I just had the pleasure of making a presentation and taking part in a local authors' expo at the jewel of a south suburban library a couple of weeks ago. It has all the bells and whistles of a 21st Century library with the charm of prairie-style architecture and design, stained glass, gorgeous lighting and soaring windows. And it has this absolutely fabulous reading area, which just makes me want to pull Anna Karenina off my shelf, hop in my car, drive 40 minutes and sink into a chair for about 8 hours!
Tech, Tech Baby or It's a Table... No, it's a Tablet... a Bii-iii-iii-g Tablet
400 Duane Street
Here's another library with prairie-style architectural touches and tall banks of windows that give it a light, airy feeling. It's also located next to the Prairie Path and the Union Pacific and METRA West Line train tracks, so the act of reading here, punctuated periodically by echoing train whistles and signal bells, evokes memories of my childhood spent reading blocks away from the EJ&E line on the south side of Chicago. But while its sounds and welcoming reading area nestled under a gorgeous round window recall those old-school days, its most curious feature is a large interactive Samsung table-sized tablet outfitted with Microsoft Surface. It's loaded with games and an app that explores the universe. So if the book you happen to have chosen gets a little boring, you can always abandon it for a quick trip through the solar system.