Friday, April 6, 2018

Elements of an Aesthetic Reading Experience + My Adventures in Reading the Past Year

IT IS WEDNESDAY, MY DUDES.

(What?  I like to prove that I'm not totally disconnected from the mainstream on occasion.)

(I know, that's pathetic. What can I say.)

Also, it'll probably not be Wednesday by the time you're actually reading this, but I'm starting it on a Wednesday, so whatever.


ANYWAY.

Have you guys ever stopped to consider little things that just make reading better?  (Yes, I'm sure you have.  I'm surrounded by fellow bibliophiles, after all.)  Well, today, as the title of the post may have informed you, I'm here to share some of the things that I've observed.  Call them tips or tricks to "a better reading experience," if you will. 

- The sound of typing -
Okay, have y'all noticed??  It is SO NICE to hear the "soft tapping" of someone's computer keys while you're reading.  It's like a soundtrack to the writing of whatever book it is you're reading.  

(I'm assuming this works best with computer keys.  I can't say from firsthand experience, but I imagine a typewriter's keys -- wonderful though they may be -- might be a bit too loud and "punchy" to be relaxing.)

- A COUCH -
Couches are a must.  Definitely my favorite piece of furniture on which to loll while reading.  (Although a chair -- if it's of the right size, shape, cushion amount, etc. -- can also be quite nice.)

A month or so ago, I was reading (A COMPLETELY AMAZING AND HEARTRENDING BOOK, but more on that later) while on a family trip.  We were in a lakehouse, and there was an L-shaped couch and an incredible fleece blanket, and boy, I snuggled in there and READ TO MY HEART'S CONTENT.  

And it was satisfying.

- And, if it's chilly, a blanket for said couch -
Case in point. See above.


- If it's nice outside, a swing -
Swings also work.  Dangling your feet, swinging -- or more like rocking -- to and fro listlessly, caught up in the story but conscious of the pleasant world around you . . . 

Well, I mean to say, Jeeves, that one could do worse.

- The spring season -
Working off of the swing thing, spring is a very aesthetic time in which to read.  Specifically outdoors.  I mean, everything is just so pulsing and green and beautiful and fragrant and -- I should stop now before I get into my full-blown rant about spring.  (Which might come later, when spring actually makes up its mind to BE A THING this year.  Ahem.)

- The winter season -
Tragically, I haven't yet had a lot of experience actually doing this, but there's definitely something very inviting about reading (preferably near a window) during a snowfall.  Magical, as they say.

(I assume -- due to Pinterest pictures -- that autumn is also nice and aesthetic and cozy for reading, but I'll admit, I haven't found that to be overwhelmingly true in my own life?  Like, in theory I agree, but in terms of experience . . . not necessarily.)


ANYWAY 2nd.

As I mentioned on my other blog, my first year of college has actually been surprisingly full of fun new books.  (I guess not having literature classes prevents you from burning out in your leisure reading.) 

So, anyway, I've gotten to read a fair amount in the past 8 months or so.  The three best new-to-me books in that time frame -- as in, the ones that have really nestled somewhere in my heart and Touched Me -- have been:

- The Book of Sorrows* by Walter Wangerin Jr. -
This was STUNNING and AMAZING and touched my soul.  (Of course, I'm already comfortable and familiar with "epics" about animals and animal communities, so if you're not, it might not have the same impact on you.)


It's definitely a very sad book (I mean, Book of Sorrows), but it was so beautiful at the same time and so instilled with the truth of God's grace that I felt more hopeful than anything else.  I can see myself rereading this soon and officially adding it to my "favorites". :)

*It is the second part in a trilogy, just FYI.

- The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman -
Another heartbreaking one.  Probably more so, because there's less hope interwoven throughout it.  But there's still enough to keep it from being depressing, for me.

Honestly, though, this one got under my skin and has stayed there in the few days since I finished it, in a way that I almost don't like because it's difficult to get rid of.  (But, like, I still loved it.  I still think it was amazing.  I just am slightly unnerved by how the story clung to my thoughts and emotions.  Does that make sense?  Y'all relate?)


Also, I LOVE TOM SHERBOURNE, OKAY?!  The poor cinnamon roll deserves all the hugs. <3

- Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley -
This was a positively charming retelling of Cinderella that came to me at precisely the right time and I loved it completely.  I don't really know how it could be improved, other than perhaps cutting out the whole thing about the magic ring.  That seemed sort of distracting and unnecessary to the plot, BUT STILL.  Frabjous book.  I was very satisfied. :)



(There was also an excellent book on theology by an English chap named Michael Lloyd (the title of the book is Café Theology) that I found inspiring, encouraging, and helpful.  I didn't necessarily agree with everything he said, but on the whole, I thought it was a great treatment of basic Christian doctrine.)

Welp, that's all for now, folks.

What are some of your favorite "reading aesthetics"?
What's the best book you've read recently?

(Also, no, as you can see, it is not still Wednesday.)



19 comments:

  1. I know EXACTLY how you feel about The Light Between the Oceans.

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  2. Ahhhh! Your description of reading, curled up in a blanket on the couch sounds SO delightful. I need to do that more often. <3 <3

    Your comment to Jeeves made me smile. :D

    "I just am slightly unnerved by how the story clung to my thoughts and emotions. Does that make sense?" Uh. Yeah. I TOTALLY KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN!!! Been there! :)

    "(Also, no, as you can see, it is not still Wednesday.)" Heehee. This sounds like a disclaimer I would add at the end of one of my posts. Seriously, they always take me longer to finish than I think they will.

    ~Miss March

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    1. You do indeed, Miss March! A most enjoyable experience. ;)

      Heehee, thank you. :D

      OKAY THANK YOU. *sigh* It's unnerving when it happens.

      Haha, the struggle . . . Thanks for the fun comment, as always! :)

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  3. All of those reading aesthetics are spot on!! <3 I haven't had so much luck reading in the winter especially because we have NO snow and for the past 9 years I was really just doing school reading through the winter. Spring and fall here are very nice to read in though. Don't forget tea!! That's always helpful and delightful when reading.

    As for a good new-to-me book, there are two that I can't stop talking about. 1) After the War by Carol Mattas. I did a fun review and everything on GR. I couldn't put the book down.
    The other one that I'm in the middle of right now is War Horse. It is so good.

    Happy Easter and God bless!

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! Awwwww, that's too bad. :( I haven't done much reading in snowy weather, either, but I've WANTED to. ;) (Psst, can I tell you a secret? I don't really like tea. I know. I'm a disgrace to the bookish community.)

      Oooh! *goes and reads your Goodreads review* Sounds neat! I'm glad you loved it. :D

      Ack, War Horse. I've heard so many things.

      Same to you, dear friend! :)

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  4. This post is so lovely! I've never stopped to realize the aesthetic of reading... wow. <33

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    1. Thank you so much, Gray! I appreciate it :) <3

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  5. Yes, yes and YES!!

    I don't really know about the typing, I rarely read in teh same room as someone who's typing.

    COUCHES AND CUDDLY BLANKETS!!! I have a very fluffy one I call my marshmallow blanket.

    SPRING! I think it has finally come to stay here. It's been raining the last couple of days. And snowfalls. Add a crackling fire and it's perfect.

    I have not heard of any of those books. AND HOW DID I NOT KNOW YOU HAD ANOTHER BLOG? And you're in college now? Yeepers jeepers you make me feel old! ;)

    Favorite reading aesthetic? Dunno. Best book I've read lately? It's a juggle between Georgette Heyer's The Reluctant Widow and Gerald Morris's The Lioness and Her Knight.

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    1. You should try it sometime! It's actually quite fun . . . for me, that is -- maybe not for other people, who knows. ;)

      YOU HAVE A BLANKET YOU CALL A MARSHMALLOW BLANKET?!?!?! THAT'S FANTASTIC. #GOALS

      Yay! Yeah, I thiiiiiink it's finally come here, too -- but yes, still got some rain going on, but the temperatures have mainly stayed about 40 so that's good.

      Hahaha, you didn't?!?! Hmm, I don't know how that happened! But honestly I've had the same thing happen -- just totally missing something in the blogosphere. It happens, as they say. ;D Hahahahaha, awwwww. ;D

      I need to read me some Georgette Heyer. *nods* How many of hers have you read? Ooh, that other title really intrigues me!!

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  6. Ahhh, love this. :D My favorite places to read depend on the whether. If spring/summertime, I want to be out in our hammock or sitting in a chair or just SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE. ♥ I agree, reading outside in the springtime is just..there's nothing like it. (HURRY. UP. SPRING.)

    If fall/winter, I like to be in my room or an otherwise quiet, comfy spot. With a cup of tea. O' course. ;)

    The best book I recently read? THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND. Aghhh I still haven't returned it to the library yet because I'm thinking of re-reading it, it was SO GOOD.

    Second good book would be Ella Enchanted, a re-read of course. That story never gets old. <3

    I started reading "Uninvited" by Lisa TerKeurst just yesterday. I'm not very far in so far...but so far it's been a much-needed balm. <3

    This was a lovely post. :D

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    1. HAMMOCKS. YES. INDEED. I'd quite forgotten about hammocks! But they're wonderful things.

      Heehee. ;D

      AAAAGGGHHHH I'M SO HAPPY YOU LIKED IT. :D :D :D

      Ack, yes. I'm due for a reread myself. <3

      I'm so glad! I've "seen it around," and one of my other friends owns it, so I'll be interested to see what you think of it.

      Awww, thank you! :D

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  7. It's Monday now.

    Just so you know.

    Fun post!

    My husband decided he wanted a recliner when our rocking chair went kaput. I wanted a rocking chair. So we got a rocking recliner. Which I now love to read in, fully reclined and not rocking. Because a girl can change her mind, yes?

    I also do a lot of reading sitting on the edge of my bathtub while hiding from my children. And in the laundry room. Supposedly I'm folding laundry in there and nobody wants to help with that, so I'm very safe there.

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    1. Hehehe. ;D

      Thanks!

      Ach, that sounds lovely. Indeed so, a girl can most definitely change her mind!

      Hmm, smart. I feel like I'll probably rely on your advice about how to squeeze in movie and book time if and when I ever start a family. ;D

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  8. Haha, I can definitely relate to these! I find I get the most out of a book when I'm reading it on holidays, when we're at a holiday house, and I have nothing else on my mind. I remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time, and reading for HOURS, which I hardly ever get to do.
    Also, couches are a must. AGREED. And I read on the swing outside, too! Sometimes I get a bit dizzy if I do it for too long, though. ;P
    For me, one thing that ALWAYS makes me enjoy a book more, is when it's raining outside. Especially if it's at night, and I'm all snuggled in bed and it's raining outside my window. *blissful sigh*

    I've not read any of those books! I recently read "Emma" by Jane Austen for the first time, which was amazing. <3 <3 And I'm re-reading "He Loves Me" by Wayne Jacobsen for the... what... 4th? 5th time? Yup. It's that good.

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    1. YUUUUSSSSS, reading while on break is the best thing. I know, isn't it lovely?! I did the same sort of thing when I was reading at that cabin I mentioned in the post. (Also, To Kill a Mockingbird. YES. I must reread it.)

      YES THANK YOU. Ahh, me too! I usually try not to move it very much, heh. ;D But yeah, one of the small "sadnesses" in my life is the fact that I can't read in the car, because I get motion-sick if I do. :'(

      AH YES. Rain. Indeed so. There's something about rainy days that just ruins one's motivation for productivity. Ooh, that sounds lovely -- snuggled up in bed, listening to the rain, reading . . . *sighs with you*

      Hey, same!! I read Emma for the first time recently, too! Jinx, haha. ;D Oh yes, I need to keep an eye out for that Wayne Jacobsen book.

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  9. This was such a lovely post, Olivia! All of those reading aesthetics you shared make me want to stop what I'm doing right now and just go curl up with a good book. <3 My favorite one would have to be either reading on a couch with a blanket, or sitting outside and reading during the spring and summer months.

    I actually do most of my reading at night in my bed, just before I go to sleep. It's so comfy and cozy, and really helps me unwind. The only "problem" is that I often end up staying up too late in order to read "one more chapter!" ;P I also like to read in the car, when I'm not driving. I've done it so often that I don't get motionsick anymore, haha.

    The best book that I've read recently is "Jane of Austin" by Hillary Manton Lodge. It was AMAZING, and I totally recommend it. :)

    P.S. I love your little message below about leaving a comment! It's so fun.

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    1. Awww, thanks, Molly! Couches and blankets, yaaaassss. <33

      Ack! That sounds so fun! Hahaha, yes, the problem of all bibliophiles . . . OKAY BUT READING IN THE CAR. It's tragic, to me, but I can't read in the car because I do get motion-sick. :( Glad you don't, though! :)

      I keep hearing great things about that book -- I can't wait to try it! :D

      P.S. Awwwwwww, thank you so much! I'm glad someone noticed it. :) <3

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