When fall hits, I start stacking books everywhere. My nightstand. Beside the fireplace. Along the bookcases and on the kitchen counter. Library and borrowed, bought or rediscovered-- these piles of pages sitting waiting for the slow rhythms of winter to kick in so that I can catch up on all the stories, ideas, and worlds I've been missing.
Firesides have always been my first choice for curling up with a good book. As time has gone on, however, the floor in front of our fireplace has become the gathering space for family reading. I love the way it happens, how pillows get tossed to the ground and one by one, my loves end up gathering here. It has become a quiet space of togetherness. But it lost something too. It stopped being "my" space.
It may sound silly, but I've always loved having a place of my own to tuck away with a book. As a child, I used to sit against the foot of my bed. There was a window to gaze out of-- though from that angle I could only see sky. As I grew older, I'd sit on top of piles of clothes in my closet, liking the confined, hidden spaces that felt like they were all my own.
And last year, I started reading in the bathroom. Seriously. I would shut the door, perch myself on the toilet or slump to cold tile floor, trying to get a few pages in without interruption. It was affective, but it sure wasn't very fun (Max loved to come to the door and say "you cloggin' it mom?"). Something had changed along the way. I no longer wanted spaces of my own-- hidden away and locked up tight-- I wanted to read with room around me. I wanted to see the expanse of our horizon falling into the hills.
And then I read this, a blog post by an editor I work with a few times a year. In it he laid out the reasons he loves winter reading. Outside. Often in the dark. I was so intrigued. The next day, I stepped outside (granted, it was mid-afternoon, sunny, and relatively warm) with a steaming thermos of tea and a book. I curled into our winter front porch seat-- a ski chair we so love-- and set about reading and sipping and gazing off as the land, blanketed white, glittered warm welcomes to the returning blue sky. I was in heaven. And so began my love of cold reads. There is something even more magical about getting up while its dark or the sun is just rising. Layering clothes and figuring out which gloves will work for turning pages (I like my mittens that have the top flap that can slide off to reveal fingerless gloves). In any case, I sit in that spot-- whenever I can-- and read. It makes me love winter in a whole different way. There is solitude and quiet, there is wind that makes the ground dance.
You may notice that I've removed the Amazon reads from my sidebar. I'm excited to be entering into a new partnership with a local bookstore-- one of my favorite stores on the planet-- that will allow folks to buy books through their website, instead of Amazon. While their discounts are not-- and cannot be-- as huge, what they are is real people. What that store is-- independent, ethical, local-- is so in line with my values. It is this kind of business-- the places with a sense of community-- that the "new economy" needs to support. Keep your eyes pealed for the books I'll have up there...It has been a good winter for cold reads.