The lovely Bookish Bronte is hosting the #takeyourbookoutdoors tag to show the perfect reading places around the country. Having moved to Reading for university four years ago, I have had plenty of time to explore the perfect book nooks in the area. (I also do not miss the irony of being a bibliophile in a place called Reading!) Doing and English Literature and Language degree, and also running a book blog, means that I have had plenty to read over the past four years too, and luckily, Reading is full of outdoor places to enjoy your book.
Reading, Berkshire, RG6 6UR
The first choice for this post is the beautiful Harris Garden which is located inside The University of Reading grounds, but is open to the public. The actual gardens are absolutely stunning and full of beautiful flowers and trees, a perfect setting to get some reading done. There are benches dotted throughout the botanical garden, but also loads of grass if you want to take a picnic blanket. What is particularly great about it is that despite being surrounded by busy Reading roads, it is surprisingly quiet inside, again meaning it is a perfect book nook for all bibliophiles. I really would recommend giving this a visit if you find yourself in Reading (even if the heatwave has made the grass a bit yellow!)
Davis St, Hurst, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG10 0TH
This is a county park in Wokingham, just outside of Reading. It is made up of a group of lakes with walkways around all of them. Although the park is usually quite busy, it is surprisingly quiet, and with benches around the lakes, it’s easy to find somewhere to enjoy your book. Again, this place is brilliant because it is so close to the hustle and bustle of Reading, and yet your feel really surrounded by nature when you’re there. From the dragonfly cafe to the Dinton Adventure Golf, this is the perfect place to enjoy a summer’s day and a great place to immerse yourself in a book.
Palmer Park Sports Stadium/Wokingham Rd, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 1LF
My finally outdoor reading spot is Palmer Park. This is located about a 40 minute walk from Reading town centre and is right on the edge of the student area. Palmer Park is often filled with fairs and has a leisure centre in the middle. Apart from that, it is just big open spaces full of grass, perfect for picnics and enjoying a book in the sunshine. There is also a cute cafe in the middle of the park called the Chalkboard Cafe which has free wifi and seating inside and outside. There may not be much to Palmer Park but it is a solid place to go to enjoy a bit of the outdoors while you’re reading your book. (Thank you to Izzy for the picture on the bench; if you like nature pics, rainbows, oceans, and general loveliness, then go check out her instagram! @izawizzy)
Bronte also wanted us to include our favourite summer read. This summer, mine will have to be Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be the Place. I actually read this on holiday and found that it was the perfect companion to lying in the sunshine. O’Farrell is already one of my favourite authors, so I knew before starting this novel, that I was probably going to love it. This Must be the Place is a story told from many perspectives and by many people, but whose lives all somehow connect. We are first introduced to Claudette, a movie star turned recluse, who has plenty of skeletons in her closet. With children to look after and a history she is trying to avoid, her husband, Daniel, suddenly runs off course after making a discovery about a woman he knew twenty years ago. With their marriage strained, each of them begin their own journey of self-discovery, but will Daniel manage to find his way back to Claudette?
I loved that O’Farrell chose to tell this story from many perspectives. This made it interesting because she is very good at making sure no one is seen through rose-tinted glasses. She makes all her characters flawed, and that is why they are so realistic. They are telling their own story while also inadvertently telling each others, allowing for a beautiful meld of all of them to be presented in the novel. This is a perfect summer read because the novel moves between Ireland, the USA, London, Bolivia, and France. It’s a country-hopping journey for the reader and ignites a wanderlust in anyone who reads it.