Inspiring Older Readers
The joys of reading in bed
I've always thought that this modest little phrase is more redolent of indulgence than almost any other I can think of. I find it almost impossible to imagine a world in which taking a book off to bed isn't a central part of my life - some people like sport, others climb mountains or yomp through woods and fields but I like to stretch out under crisp, clean sheets and open my book.
However, as any true aficionado will know, there are different types of bed-based reading experiences. In my view the most decadent is the quasi-illicit afternoon in bed when you decide all the usual, mundane tasks of the workaday week can wait and a great story, plump pillows and a bucket of tea are the only things worth having. Opinions differ on whether these afternoons require the curtains to be closed or not - on the whole I'm a closed curtain type although I can be flexible on this, especially in the summer. The hum and buzz of the outside world going about its business is a uniquely gratifying soundscape that adds a little piquancy to your reveries - so an open window in the bedroom is quite acceptable. As I've got older many more of these afternoons culminate in a light doze when it becomes necessary to rest my eyes - but again this is not obligatory and staying awake is perfectly acceptable etiquette.
Reading in bed at the end of the day before a nights sleep is an absolute rule of mine which can only be broken in extremis. By the side of my bed is a heap of books requiring to be read but which quite often get ignored or usurped by a new arrival that has taken my fancy.Reading before I sleep provides me with a crucial buffer zone between my everyday concerns and anxieties and my sleeping hours. Quite often the length of time I can stay awake at the end of the day is limited and only a few pages get read. I do, however, enjoy the sensation of sliding towards sleep as I read and, on occasions discovering that I had fallen into semi-consciousness and dreamed the content of the book in my hand.
Then there's reading in those times of insomnia when sleep wont come and the dawn seems a long way away. Non-fiction certainly wont do the business in these times and I don't recommend deep, existential fiction - something light and engaging will probably do the trick - but on no account should you try reading from an electronic device because it will fry your brain.
There are plenty of other issues I know concern some people - but I dismiss them as frippery. Reading in bed should be just that and not an excuse for all sorts of embellishments. Eating is certainly out, as are 'special' cushions, clip-on reading lights, book support frames of any kind and no background music. There are those quite close to me who will dispute these rules but they are quite simply wrong - it may sound uncompromisingly stoical but that's just the way it needs to be : a book, a bed and a willing reader - and nothing else ( except that bucket of tea).
I have to go now because the kettle is boiling and I've got a new book to start and a bed just waiting for me.
(image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spirit-fire/5734274496 )