My favorite day is a stay-inside-all-day reading day — the kind that involves a lot of hot drinks, preferably some gloomy weather, a nice and long TBR stack, and lots and lots of coziness.
I’ve spent the past three days perfecting my reading day, and I think I may have crafted my recipe for all the essential ingredients that go into my dream day.
For Maximum Physical Comfort: My bed, outfitted with all my favorite soft blankets, all my pillows, and my prop pillow. I like to wear my thermal pants and a soft tee or sweater and, the most important bit, cozy socks. My house runs terrifically cold no matter the day, so socks are a must, and if necessary, a heated blanket turned on low to keep things nice and comfortable.
For Snacks and Sips: My tea tray, serviced by my tea pot, prepared with black tea (no sugar, and certainly no milk!), my little tea cup, and some kind of snack, like crackers for the occasional stomach growl. I keep my tea pot on this nifty device, which has changed my life forever — a candle tea warmer. It’s a little metal dish which is hollow on the inside (mine is from Teavana, but unfortunately they don’t sell them anymore). You light a tea candle and place it in the center and the tea pot sits over it and heats the tea so it stays warm. I fix my pot in the morning and its stays warm until nighttime! I also keep dark chocolate handy, because I have an insatiable sweet tooth.
For Atmosphere: I always light a candle. My candle of the season is Flannel from Bath and Body Works, but I also always have good luck finding something cozy at TJ Maxx or Homegoods. In the summer I like Fresh Cut Gardenia scent. I’ve also got an order of bookish candles on the way, so those will certainly help set the mood! Next, I turn on some music, strictly instrumental and play it from Spotify through my iHome Soundflask. When I’m reading books that already have soundtracks, like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, I play those, but if I’m reading something without a film score, I listen to a classical station on Spotify or a piano set. I try to match the genre of the novel to the genre of the music so I really can sink in.
For Notes: I can’t help it — I just can’t turn of Literature Student Brain even when I read for fun, so I never read without a notebook and a highlighter. I use pink or orange highlighters, because yellow is too light, and the purple, blue, and green are often too dark. I keep my journal nearby so I can take little notes for blog posts or reviews later, and, with Harry Potter, I’ve been keeping a separate list journal to jot notes into. Both of the journals I’m using I purchased at Books-a-Million (but it seems they are only available now directly from the manufacturer), and I like to write with a Papermate Flair Felt Tipped Pen. I always liked writing better with pencil than pen, and I realized after a quick Google search that it was because I liked the friction of a pencil — pens moved too fast and made my hand writing sloppy. So I bought some felt tip pens, which have more friction than a roller ball, it’s truly been the Second Great Revolution of My Life. I’m in love with these pens. The burned-paper sticky pad is from Mochi Things.
I try to keep my reading time as uninterrupted as possible so I can focus on the story and really get into it. Often, my dogs foil this by wanting to be fed or let out or just talked to. I try to give them a lot of attention when I get up for the bathroom or meals so they don’t feel too terribly neglected.
If I get all these ingredients just right, I’m set up for the best kind of fall and winter day. These are my biggest self-care days. It took me a while to wrestle them back from my depression which held me prisoner on the couch for days on end watching nothing in particular on television but completely unconvinced to get up or do anything else. Once I was able to put together these types of reading days, however, I was less and less the victim of my depression and more and more able to take back the things that I loved that it had stolen from me. I took reading back first, by picking up small novels and reading them between commercial breaks. Then, eventually, I could take back my sleep schedule by getting to bed at strict times and being better about not ignoring my alarm. Over time, I was able to get out of bed, change my clothes, perform my hygiene rituals, and make breakfast. Before long, I was looking forward to these days, and able to get back to writing on this blog and working on my bookstagram. I became more productive in three reading days that I had been over an entire month. Baby steps turned into strides, and strides are turning into leaps.
It may seem wasteful to some people to spend an entire day reading in bed, but for me, it was the catalyst that sparked my creativity and productivity. Those days in bed turned into my blog and bookstagram, and helped me gather up the energy to apply for jobs and start planning my life again after depression sought to grind it into the dust. Now, I have the recipe for a perfect day, so no matter where my life is or what I’m doing, I can take a day to perform these healing rituals and get my head and heart back on track.
What are your reading rituals? Do you snack or sip? Do you listen to music or prefer silence? What’s the recipe for your perfect day?