Jenna Bush Hager has helmed a book club since 2019. Speaking to TODAY.com, she shared how she gets all of her reading done — and one tip involves a technology-free reading nook, or a space designated especially for reading. Now, it's one of her favorite places to read (her very favorite being an airplane).
When you think of the perfect place to curl up with a good book, where is it? If you're like many book lovers, you probably imagine a window seat overlooking the ocean or snuggled up under a blanket by a fire as snowflakes fall from the sky.
That's nice and all, but the reality is that squeezing in a few chapters of your favorite novel is more likely to occur somewhere between responding to work emails and finishing up the dishes – if there's any time at all.
Life's busy and if you're hoping to jump back on the reading bandwagon, finding the motivation is as easy as joining a book club (naturally we suggest Read With Jenna) and keeping your reading streak alive by committing to a few pages each and every day.
It also helps to have a designated reading space or reading nook to inspire you.
While it might not necessarily be in a seaside villa or ski chalet, you can still create a place in your home (regardless of how big or small your space is) just right for you and your books.
To help, TODAY.com asked the experts for ideas on how to make a reading retreat and, good news, using these five simple steps, creating your own personal book haven is easier than you think.
Designate a comfy spot
There are a lot of benefits of reading. Among them? Living longer, less stress and being a better conversationalist for starters.
"Reading has actually been connected to meditation in terms of the way that our brain processes our environment and our physiological state," Zoe Shaw, Psy.D., licensed psychotherapist and author of “A Year of Self-Care: Daily Practices and Inspiration for Caring for Yourself,” tells TODAY.com.
To help enhance that reading-inspired Zen, it's important your reading nook is located somewhere in your home where you feel relaxed, even if it's just a quiet corner in the living room.
"The most important thing is that people realize it does not need to be that really perfect little window seat or that paneled library fireside," Julia Mack, interior designer at Julia Mack Design, tells TODAY.com.
"It really just takes a comfortable chair. It’s not something that should feel like it requires a major amount of design. It just requires a little bit of effort," Mack says.
If your living space is limited, Mack recommends making your bed your "book nook," then adding a few large pillows to help prop up your back.
"I like the idea of sitting on top of a bed that is nicely made and sitting up against some cushions," she says. "That is a perfectly acceptable version of a reading nook."
Shed a little light on the subject
Once you've settled on a place for your reading retreat, make sure it's got ample light.
"Definitely task lighting," Rashida Banks, designer and content creator, tells TODAY.com. She suggests a floor lamp or wall-mounted sconce with a pull-out arm to help illuminate the pages.
A window works just fine, too, according to Banks, who says given the choice, she'd choose to have a reading nook in a corner of the house by a window, if possible.
"It's nice to look off into the outside, especially if the outside is scenic," she explains.
Mack agrees that being near a window makes for a good reading nook, but with one caveat.
"If it's during the day and you're reading a hardbound, traditional book, it's nice to have some sunlight and be near a window," says Mack. "But if it's at night and you're on an e-book, it's also great to have the space feel cozy and comfy."
Add a table or nightstand
Depending on your space, Mack recommends incorporating small table or flat surface nearby to set things down on.
"It's just really a comfortable feeling when you have a side table, something to put down a glass of water, cup of tea or you're reading glasses," she says.
Banks also recommends incorporating a table into your reading retreat if possible.
"I would put a small table on the side because, if you're like me, I love lattes, tea lattes, coffee lattes, or if it's summertime, maybe some homemade lemonade.you Then, have a place to set your drink down," Banks says.
Along with a table, having someplace to store your book (or books!) is also helpful.
"I have some clients that are absolutely dedicated readers and they don't want to part with the books that they’ve read," Mack explains. "It’s a feeling of accomplishment. They like to go back and reread their books. They like to be surrounded by them."
If you don't have space for a bookshelf, you've still got options.
"People are collecting books," says Banks. "So, even having a basket next to your chair where you can store your book when you're not reading it and come back to it when you are."
Make your reading nook cozy
Along with covering the basics, creating a reading nook that's inviting goes a long way in ensuring that you'll actually use it.
Simple ways to enhance your space include picking out special throw pillows for the spot, adding photographs or art and customizing it to suit your personal taste.
And, of course, it needs to be comfy.
"You definitely need a blanket," says Banks. "For the wintertime you do a knitted blanket, in the summertime you can do a linen blanket."
Ideally, according to Mack, your book nook shouldn’t be where where you work.
“As people get busier and busier and as your home and office seem to merge, it’s nice to have a designated spot where you can sit down with a nice, juicy fictional book and just jump right in and not feel like you’re working in your living space or living in your working space,” she says.
Add an element of fire
Finally, when it comes to reading nooks, it's hard not to imagine stretching out on a luxurious chaise lounge in front of a roaring fire with champagne and crumpets served by the staff.
While reading your favorite novel at the "Downton Abbey" manor certainly would be nice, chances are pretty good, you'll need to improvise.
If you've got a fireplace in your home, then creating a book nook nearby is ideal. "I think a fiery aspect sets the mood for coziness," Banks says. "I think about campfires and how stories are told around them."
No fireplace? Not to worry. Any element of fire works whether you burn a candle, put on the a cracklin' fireplace on YouTube or try the "crackling fireplace" setting of a white noise machine.
"Having some element of fire sets the tone and opens up our imagination as we're reading," says Banks.