Ramsey County Library will be closed on Monday, January 20.

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Why Reading Outside Sucks... (But We Do It Anyway)

Reading at seaSummer is a magical season where outdoor reading becomes possible – Okay, being outdoors in general becomes possible. All winter long I envision myself waking up a little early to read on my porch as the sun rises and the birds chirp. Can you picture it now? Yet every summer I find myself wondering why it’s not as magical as I picture it in my head. I hate to tell you all this, but we’ve been lying to ourselves. Reading outside sucks and here’s why:

The Sun:  The bane of my outdoor reading existence. If I turn my back to the sun the white pages of my book become a blinding reflection that I swear does more damage to my eyes than looking directly into the sun. If I face the sun directly then the sun is in my eyes. Don’t even get me started on trying to read an e-Reader in the sun. 

Ever tried reading at the beach? Your book comes home with a lot of ‘character’ including greasy edges from sun screen and sand from children running by. I also usually come home with a nice tan line across my stomach or legs, depending on where book was resting.

Nature:  If you’ve managed to find the exact position to sit in to counteract the sun, congratulations! You’ve made it one step further in outdoor reading than most. Now try to hold the pages down of a fresh book while swatting mosquito’s away or brushing ants off your feet. And the sweet chirp of a bird? Somehow a faint chirp becomes a community of birds in an intense conversation, which I can only assume is about the woman trying to figure out how to read in the sun.

Weather:  When it’s 78 degrees, the sun is shining and there’s a faint breeze I could swear I’m in Narnia. This happens few and far between thanks to our good friend humidity. Nothing’s more uncomfortable than feeling like you’re in the middle of a pool while reading. Which reminds me…

Water:  Ahhh … aquatic reading. Grab a floation device and enjoy that book of yours. Unfortunately if you’re in a pool you’ll probably be splashed before you know it by someone who argues pools are not made for reading (what do they know?). If you’re in a lake you might lift your head after a few chapters to find yourself in the middle of the lake.

So why do we do it? Why do we read outside when our cozy, nuisance-free couch is calling our name? Because despite all of these things when you find the right book time stands still around you. The sun doesn’t seem so blinding, nature is calmed, the weather is irrelevant and water is refreshing. Characters come to life, you become a part of the story and the world around you waits for you to close the book, look up to see what it has to offer with a new perspective… and usually some sun burn.

What challenges have you endured while reading outside? (posted by Amy A.)


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