People love literature. People love traveling. These are not odd things to grow a fancy for. Many of my friends and family, however, have found my interest with literature and traveling together to be a peculiar obsession. To me, though, the connection of these two things makes perfect sense and to be honest, I find it somewhat peculiar that more people aren’t obsessed with the idea.
This past Tuesday I traveled to Santa Barbara, California and spent two days there. Initially, the reputation of the Santa Barbara beaches fed my skepticism for SB as an ideal reading environment. But what I quickly realized was that I had traveled there during the week (which I had never done before) and the beach that I remember so dearly as a crowded, college-kid-infested sand box, was actually void of all potential reading-ruiners and was fairly empty, quiet and peaceful, much like the best beach on planet earth, Manhattan Beach.
West Beach in Santa Barbara is attached to the Santa Barbara Harbor where you can treat your eyes to the view of many beautiful boats on the water (not to mention it’s a pretty solid spot to pick up on some surfer eye-candy or if you’re lucky, even live out the ultimate fantasy of finding a fellow beach bum bibliophile to woo). While on this vacation I read John Green’s Paper Towns, which happened to be a great book for this particular location. It made me want to do adventurous things like run in the water with my jeans on, despite my very strong preference of dry clothes. I also had a strong urge to go ask the cute guy if I could hitch a ride on his boat, but alas, my awkward social skills in the face of good-looking men seemed to cloud my underlying charm yet again.
Okay, okay, getting back to my point before. Every reading experience is far different from the next. Thus, how could one possibly imagine reading every piece of wonderfully crafted literature in the same place? A place such as: my couch. “Your couch” is the perfect reading environment for a SUITABLE piece of literature like, say: a textbook. If you are reading anything BUT a textbook on your couch, I call this unacceptable and I dub you the Queen or King of Choosing Crappy Reading Locations. Take that title and stomp on it. Tell me I’m wrong. Go explore. Expand your creative capacities, your adventurous mind. You see, how could I possibly expect my John Krakauer Into the Wild reading experience to reach its full potential unless I give it the nature-filled environment that it deserves? If I am reading a suspenseful thriller, like one of Stephen King’s, I would need to read this in a completely different place than a romance, like Gillian Flynn’s (haha…ha…heh…). The best way to paint a picture of this: you wouldn’t watch a scary movie during the day with all the lights on and the volume low while you surf the web for funny memes. This would ruin the entire suspenseful and frightening experience. If you’ve done this: Congratulations, you’ve ruined, RUINED a perfectly good scary movie AND the opportunity to, for the following week, see a death ghost every time you close your eyes and run full speed into every room in your house because something may be following you. No, you would watch this movie correctly, with all the lights off. You would watch it at midnight. You would watch it by yourself. And you would watch it with the volume cranked all the way up. Only then do you get the best scary movie watching experience complete with scary ghost faces on the backs of your eyelids and one-man stampedes from the bathroom to your bedroom. This is the way I feel about reading. Books MUST be read in the right environment.