My Childhood Sanctuary and “The Perfectly Curated Reading Nook”

I woke up with the sunrise this morning. That sounds romantic, but it was due to a fussy baby. When I couldn’t go back to sleep, I decided to check in on my favorite blogs. I’m so glad I did, because my friend Ami from Every Sensory posted a story with pics about a chick hatching right in the palm of her hand. So heart warming. Then, I read a post by Maedez from A Small Press Life that I enjoyed reading so much I had to share it. I was going to reblog it, but as I wrote the intro, it turned into a post of its own. I recommend you pop over there and read her post titled “My Velveteen Chair, or: Why I’ve Given Up on the Idea of a Perfectly Curated Reading Nook.”

I, too, have always dreamed of “The Perfectly Curated Reading Nook,” ever since I was a little girl and my grandma told me about her window seat that she would read in as a child. It seemed so romantic. You’re curled up as the sun rises and sets, feeling the warmth from the glass in the summer, and curling up in blankets in the winter, a tray of hot tea and cookies beside you. You keep lots of pillows there with which to prop yourself up when you want to sit, or to bunch below your legs when you want to lie down. You’re surrounded by bookshelves on either side.

And look at this one with a view!

I imagined spending entire days there, in my window seat. I would have taken my meals there, and if I’d gotten any calls, I would have yelled to my mother without looking up from my book, “Will you take a message?” I’d only leave when absolutely necessary. If I had to leave for errands or school, or even if I chose to leave for play, I would always return there, my special place where I would read. Just me and my little dog, who was also part of my fantasy.

Though I would prefer a bay window seat. Just add a view and some bookshelves to this one while we’re dreaming.

You see, when I was a little girl, I read like crazy. I devoured books. I took them with me everywhere I went. I read in the car. I read in the bathroom. I read in trees. I read while I brushed my teeth. At school, I would finish my work as fast as I could so I could sit at my desk and read until the next task. Books were not only a fun escape, but my sanctuary. I had a lot of stresses in my life that not all children have to deal with, and I found solace in my books. I could block out literally anything from adults screaming to annoying sisters fighting over a Barbie doll.

I would have killed to have a space like this to escape to as a kid.

I  remember in 1st grade when I was seated next to a kid named Eric, the troublemaker. He was known for harassing whomever was nearest, so his assigned seat would rotate whenever his latest neighbor couldn’t take it anymore. When he was seated next to me, I remember him trying to bother me. He’d try to distract me from my work by doing things like knocking my pencil out of my hand. I can recall him poking me in the arm for like, an hour straight while I read a Mrs. Piggle Wiggle book. I ignored it all.

One day, the principle was in the room. She and my teacher called me over. My teacher asked if everything was okay with my seating arrangement. I said it was fine. The principle asked if Eric was bothering me. I said, “I just bury my head in my book, and I don’t even notice he’s there.” Eventually he stopped trying, and was even nice to me. That’s how I ended up seated next to him 3 years in a row. I am certain it was no coincidence.

Me in 1st grade. Yes, it was the 80s.

As an adult, I still love to read, and I still devour books. I have small children running around that make it hard for me to read as much as I would like to, but when I do pick up a book, I still read it with the same enthusiasm I had as a child. I’ve never had a window seat, but I am still young and poor, building my life. I have yet to really have nice things, or even a home that I have truly made my own. Still, I admire those I see on HGTV or in Better Homes and Gardens. I pin pictures of reading nooks to my boards on Pinterest. In my mind, it has always been a given that I will one day have “The Perfectly Curated Reading Nook.” The thought that this may be an elusive dream has never occurred to me until now.

This isn’t a sad thing. Maedez’s post has led me to an epiphany. I cannot wait around until I reach that moment in my life that I dream of where everything falls into place. I need to carve out my reading nook now, at this point in my life, in my tiny home, with my little kids and my dogs and my empty pocket book. It can be as simple as a cozy old chair in the middle of the room like hers. The details don’t matter. What matters is that I create a little place for myself where I feel inspired. Where I can write and dream and escape into the wonderful world of my books. I don’t need a sanctuary the way I needed it when I was a little girl, but I do need a special place that’s just for me.

Add me to the list of those with fantasies of the perfect reading nook. For now I’m content if I find a cozy chair with neither toys or dog hair in it.

I have two reading spaces carved out in my house. One is my front sitting room and the other is in the eat-in area of my kitchen. It’s so nice to be able to read during meal prep while sitting in a comfy chair and only being steps away from the stove. It isn’t aesthetically pleasing with our layout to have the bookshelves right where I read so it’s generally just my current book(s) close by.

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4 thoughts on “My Childhood Sanctuary and “The Perfectly Curated Reading Nook”

  1. Aw, I love that this piece was partially sparked by mine! I’m not sure how many epiphanies I have helped people to achieve, but it is a nice feeling! 🙂 I loved reading about your childhood experiences and how you, too, were always striving for the perfect reading spot. I wonder how many lovely and comforting experiences, how many unique memories, we deprived ourselves of in the pursuit of an unattainable ideal? Your window seat story reminds me of when I was almost 6, and my parents bought a new house. It was built in the 1920s and the dining room doubled as a library, with built-in bookcases along 3 walls and a wall of window seats along the 4th. I took one look at that arrangement and, not realizing that this empty room was a dining room, told my mom that I wanted it as my bedroom!

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