What's the best chair for reading?
January 24, 2007 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Having recently entered graduate school, I'm reading a ton of dense scientific literature. The problem is, I have no comfortable chair or other nice place to read. What is the best chair for extended reading sessions? If you dislike chairs, where do you read?
posted by fake to Shopping (19 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Sitting on the grass outside the lab, or in a park.
Comfort is actually your enemy when reading the lit, I think.
posted by Methylviolet at 9:12 AM on January 24, 2007

When it comes to dense scientific literature I almost invariably get through it at my desk on a decent office chair. If there's the option (i.e. it's a printed out paper and not a textbook) I'll probably be scribbling on the document, and being at a desk with a good surface to work on is more important than being somewhere that would otherwise be more comfortable.

Frequent breaks help relieve any issues of comfort - and I find those pretty important when I'm working through some text slowly anyway.
posted by edd at 9:16 AM on January 24, 2007

Man, have I got the chair for you. If you have a couple of bucks to spare this chair is incredible...


The neat thing is that after your ass gets tired of sitting you can mess around with the settings and feel like you just sat down all over again. There are a couple of different models. They used to sell one at Costco and you can find them on ebay.
posted by bkeene12 at 9:30 AM on January 24, 2007

If you're living on a grad student budget, I'd recommend Ikea's poang chair. It's comfortable and roomy enough for me to tuck my feet up under my legs.
posted by anonymous78 at 9:45 AM on January 24, 2007

I also like the Poang, but my current favorite reading spot is my Ikea Lillberg chair with a round ottoman. I need to have my feet up and a good light source when I'm reading.

Aside from chairs, my second favorite place to read is in a bubble bath. To my husband's dismay, I can spend up to 2 hours soaking in the tub with a book.
posted by tastybrains at 9:51 AM on January 24, 2007

A 'papasan' chair. Cheap, too. Be warned that it's possible to fall asleep in those, though.
posted by kmennie at 10:08 AM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Second Methylviolet's idea. Also, I read a ton (for my quals) on a comfy lazy boy style chair. They're also great for taking naps after a couple hours of dense reading. I hate reading at the library (too quiet) and prefer coffee shops (many of which have said chair) where there are distractions I can ignore (keeps me focussed). Try a bunch of places in your area to see which work best. Also, ask your boss if he'd get you a new chair (mine did).

The key here is to shake things up a bit. I someitmes just hop in the car and drive into the mountains, find some random coffee shop and work. I've gotten a lot done this way (written large grant proposals, read 8 hours). Good luck!
posted by special-k at 10:30 AM on January 24, 2007

I highly recommend the Bookchair so you don't have to hold your reading up all the time.
posted by grouse at 10:31 AM on January 24, 2007

If your apartment's big enough, try stretching out on your stomach in the middle of your floor. It's very comfortable, but the hidden bonus is that it keeps you focused on the text: you're not surrounded by people or the internet or noise -- you're surrounded by carpet, which is not, in my experience, terribly interesting.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:38 AM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

There are two things that make a really big difference in what will work for you:

1-- Do you need to take notes on a computer while you read? If so, you either need to be at a desk, work out an arrangement of side tables or attached laptop stands, or investigate lap desks.

2-- What is your body shape? What chairs will be comfortable for you depends on whether you are tall or short, skinny or wide, etc. The Ikea poang chairs don't fit me at all, for example, although they work well for many people. (Which is too bad, as they are nice and cheap, and look nice.) Personally I prefer the firmer cushions often found on "scandanavian"-style furniture, while others love the softer, thicker cushions on an American-style Lazyboy recliner. This isn't something you can figure out with a catalog or photos; you have to go sit in the chairs to see what fits you. Manufacturers like Ekornes and Lazyboy have lots of models to fit different body shapes, and then you can mix and match colors and types of leather/fabric, so there are lots of variables if you go that route.

I work at desks or tables only when I need to spread out multiple piles of papers, or work on a computer. I do my reading and note taking in a comfy chair or couch, using a clipboard and lined paper. This works for me; my partner thinks it's a ridiculous way to work and does all her work sitting at a traditional desk. My friend does all his work, reading and writing, in coffee shops. We all get books read, so the real answer here is to experiment and see what works for you.
posted by Forktine at 11:20 AM on January 24, 2007

i really like round dish chairs. i do most of my reading in this urban outfitter's dish chair (like the papasan chair that kmennie recommended). you'll probably want a pillow for your head if you go this route.
i also like these little folding dish chairs, which target and ikea sold at some point and may to this day. an added bonus is that the little chair makes your knees into a good laptop desk. (i'm a midsize woman, if that's relevant- but i've seen 6'0" men do this too.)

really, though, the chair matters less for me- the main two keys that allow me to concentrate on reading are:

(a) being in the same room as a person i like who is also working silently (most of my friends write or draw for a living, so we often work silently in the same room, which works out well for me), and

(b) wearing foam earplugs - not so much for the noise reduction, but more for the pavlovian sense of focus they give me. that slightly full-headed feeling they provide lets me focus. (by the way, the earplugs absolutely must be the cylindrical ones, not those stupid rounded-tip cone-shaped molded ones, which never fit right and feel dumb and make me uncomfortable just by being their icky suppository-like selves, ugh, just look at those smug bastards.)
posted by twistofrhyme at 11:51 AM on January 24, 2007

My wife and I have something like this lapdesk it makes the chair we sit in inconsequential.
posted by iurodivii at 11:57 AM on January 24, 2007

Yes, Poang.

I have a small table next to it, a lamp on that, and a dog laying on my feet.
posted by booth at 12:52 PM on January 24, 2007

Nthing the Poang.

I had one in one of my college apartments and never wanted to leave it. Sadly, I had to as it did not belong to me.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:43 PM on January 24, 2007

I long for the Poang chair.

However, since I don't have one, sitting at the kitchen table without music or a laptop usually works pretty well. As long as you don't get distracted by looking out the window, which happens to me.
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 2:38 PM on January 24, 2007

Broken-record time.

On a student-budget sticker-shock note, I'm quite happy with the non-leather Poang. Less than half the price, just as comfy.

And they do sell footstools to match the Poang, so you can still get your feet up if need be.

(Works beautifully with the fold-up side tables, too.)
posted by mykescipark at 2:39 PM on January 24, 2007

I also love my Poang. I'm going to get one of those side tables - thanks mykescipark!
posted by dmd at 4:41 PM on January 24, 2007

Response by poster: Looks like I'll be getting a Poang... Thanks!!
posted by fake at 8:36 PM on January 24, 2007


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