In my radical history, reading books used to bore me. In fact, reading anything was a challenge. My buddies insisted that I had ADD, but I thought that was nonsense. Summer reading became the bane of my existence. The thought of reading three summer books for high school was equivalent to when I studied for my GRE. It was extensive, time-consuming, and cringe-worthy.
It took me twenty-five years to experience the turning point of my literary interest. I stumbled upon an article about “manly books” that caught my attention. I was intrigued by the man they call Oscar Wilde. Who could resist the following description written by Brett McKay:
Arguably the best work from the ever-quotable [Oscar] Wilde, this novel is a guide for how to live a life of pure decadence. It is packed with impeccable wit, clever one-liners, and an excessive amount of egotistical vanity. At the very least, this book will show you the glory and the pitfalls of being the best looking chap around.
To read my first book of my own accord struck me, so I came up with a list of non-negotiable rules for reading books…
I. Read whatever the heck you want to read
Forget recommendations by friends. This is a very common occurrence: Some overly enthused friend of yours finally finishes a book. Then, they can’t help but vent out their excitement to you and implore you to read it too…
Listen, I like The Lord of the Rings movies just like the next person. However, I opened the book and started to zone out and think of Gingers in Ireland every time Frodo mentions The Shire. I like books that are almost entirely filled with jokes and vengeful sentences. It is what is. My next book will be a Kurt Vonnegut book. I heard that he’s a really funny guy.
II. Like sex on a beach, the environment matters (so I’ve heard)
Listen up: location is everything, ok? And to read books on a beach is so much better than reading them in my room.
I compare reading locations as I would with eating in restaurants: if the food & service is perfect, then ambiance what’s left. Would you eat a perfectly baked tomato quiche inside a sewer? Of course not. However, a nicer (and more sanitary) place to eat breakfast is outside in nature, e.g., by a lake– something one should experience at least twice in their lifetime.
I also like to read on the waterfront, perhaps on a local park bench or an outdoor backyard garden. Nature relaxes me and allows me to have an open mind when reading. It’s also possible to read in a busy place, like a coffee shop! Sure – If there’s too much activity, it’s easy to be phased. Luckily, some noise is desirable such as an espresso steam wand or a nearby conversation. Some enjoy the serenity of beach reading, but in my home state of New Jersey there tends to be Club music resonating in the distance. (“We don’t pump our gas, we pump our fists.”)
My notable reading spots:
-Central Park (Manhattan)
-Prospect Park (for certain quiet, in Brooklyn)
-Pier A (Hoboken, pictured above)
III. Wine pairings are fun, and so are book pairings
Shmoke ’n’ a pancake? How about a latte & a prayer?
Indulging in some form of refreshment or libation can induce a calm state when reading. Perhaps coffee or masala chai will keep oneself alert during their long reads. Breakfast and book is pleasant. Theodore Roosevelt read an entire book every morning before eating his breakfast.
My Dad liked to sit down by the dining table and read his newspaper while sipping coffee just like any casual Norman Rockwell painting. Similarly, I like to read the newspaper while drinking a smooth cold brew, especially on Sunday mornings. It’s a real thrill.
So how do you like to read?
I will always stick to my above guidelines in order to maintain interest in reading. If I sacrifice the sweet combination of a good book, a serene location, and a good cup of coffee–I’d be lost in the sauce. ♠︎