Going ‘out on a limb’: find new places to read

Jenna Viets


Finding comfort in the busyness of school and work can be hard. Whether reading is an unfortunate obligation or a pleasant pastime, it’s something we find ourselves doing all the time, especially as college students.

English majors spend entire semesters plowing through Dante. Aspiring doctors sit for hours picking their way through science textbooks. Our theater friends study scripts upon scripts.

Your surroundings while reading have a great impact on the productivity and pleasure of the time. If you find yourself struggling to focus on the words, or even to sit down in the first place, maybe a change of scenery is all you need.

I love reading outside on pretty days and cozying up in my dorm room on rainy days with classical music and candles (the electric kind, of course). I’ve always been an avid reader, so over the years I’ve had lots of practice being creative with my reading environments.

For example, as a kid, I would read Nancy Drew while Rollerblading up and down the driveway. But maybe that was a bit too creative.

For outdoor reading, I have a few go-to spots in Troy, including the swings on the quad, if they’re open — if not, the benches. There are also the patios outside TC, Barnes & Noble and the dining hall.

For a more natural setting, a picnic blanket in the amphitheater, the benches in Janice Hawkins Park or a hammock by Sorrell Chapel are always good options. For a quieter, homey feel, the deck of a friend’s apartment or house is a pleasant choice.

On one of Alabama’s incredibly hot, surprisingly cold or sopping wet days, I like the Barnes & Noble coffee shop (as long as I bring headphones to block whatever game show is blaring on the TV), the lobby of Wallace Hall (in the basement of the library) or the atrium in Bibb Graves Hall.

If I’m looking for somewhere without the distraction of passing friends, I go to the library (anywhere near windows … I love natural light). The Baptist Campus Ministries library is always open for studying too, and the couches in the downstairs TV room are comfortable (for napping as well as reading).

One sunny Sunday, I spent over an hour in the branches of a Shack Quad magnolia, reading C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity.” Another day, I spent an entire afternoon reading in a hammock hung in the same tree.

The flexibility of reading is one of its beauties. Granted, climbing a tree with a giant science textbook may not be advisable, but for the most part, reading can be done anywhere at any time.

Where do you find yourself reading?

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