Art/Culture / Books / Boston 2022

Wanted: a place to read my book in peace

Earnest question: where would you go to read a book? I could read at home but working all day from my room and then reading at home reminds me too much of early pandemic times, and I start to go stir crazy. Coffee shops/cafes are cute until the $4 pastries start adding up. Bookstores are for buying books. It’s kind of awkward to bring your own to camp out. 

I’ve moved to Boston recently. It’s a city with public transit, a ton of bookstores, and weather that doesn’t quite feel like summer yet. In an attempt to slow down and be less dependent on my phone, I’ve been reading physical copies of books. 

But reading physical books feels different than just scrolling on my phone. I feel like I can do that anywhere. When I’m on my phone, no one can really know what I’m doing. Maybe I’m answering an important work email or texting a friend a reference to an inside joke. Or maybe I’m mindlessly doomscrolling. 

Reading a book is different. Not only does it require more intentional concentration and discipline to not get distracted, it also feels like I can’t just read anywhere. It would be weird if I stopped in the middle of a grocery store to read in a way that it wouldn’t if I stopped to read the article associated with the push notification that popped up on my phone. 

Public spaces

There are parks. But the pollen in Boston is a beast I can’t always contend with (I don’t usually get allergies but my eyes are watering every day). Plus, you have no control over the environment. People blast loud music, children scream at the top of their lungs, cigarette smoke wafts through the air and mixes with the pollen that is already doing the most to keep me inside. The very thing that makes parks hard to read in is the very thing I claim to be looking for; it’s a public space for other people

There are so few spaces available to ‘real’ adults where you can sit and read a book with no expectation of buying anything. It’s something I didn’t notice as much while I was in school where you can always commandeer a classroom or find a reading room. But especially after pandemic closures, we’re left with a limited number of spaces for people to just exist within society with no expectation of spending money. So much so, that it’s kinda weird when we do have them. 

All this to say, I’m rediscovering my love for libraries, not just as places to find books, but as community centers to hang out, play a board game, and yes, read a book. So despite my ever growing to be read list and the fact that I’m only here for the summer, you can find me browsing the shelves of a local library, noisy children and all. 

This post is part of a series documenting my time in Boston, interning at the Boston Globe. To get notifications when I make a post//publish at the Globe, consider subscribing to my newsletter.


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