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A Party of One: How To Set The Perfect Mood For Any Book

Carolina Ciucci


Carolina Ciucci is a teacher, writer and reviewer based in the south of Argentina. She hoards books like they’re going out of style. In case of emergency, you can summon her by talking about Ireland, fictional witches, and the Brontë family. Twitter: @carolinabeci

Reading is often simple. When it comes down to it, all you really need is a book, a flat surface and some uninterrupted time. Sometimes, however, simple doesn’t cut it. There are times when you just want to experience your book in a more involved way. By putting a little bit of thought into it, the entire experience takes on a new sheen to it. Here I will tell you how to set up the perfect mood depending on what you’re reading.

A classic mystery: If you want to read, say, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, you might like to consider getting a little more involved than curling up on the couch wearing jeans and a sweater. The classic mystery is all about rolling green fields and 1920s Fords, about cities that sparkle with the promise of all the new innovations of the time, and about the danger lurking underneath. So how can you maximize that feeling?
Dress up in something a little more elegant than jeans, apply red lipstick and curl up on something lounge-ish in the garden or balcony. Put on classical music and sip from a martini as your pour through your novel.

A romance novel: Preferably to be read on the couch or in bed. This is serious business: choose the softest sheets or go to the couch or armchair with the most textured upholstery in your home. Turn on scented candles, make sure to have instrumental music wafting through the room and stock up a chocolate tray. A glass of wine in the evening, different flavored teas during the day. Bonus points if it rains or snows.

A collection of short stories: This may look like it’s the perfect book to read in short increments in waiting rooms, but that may not be exactly the case. Short story authors often choose that form because the condensed amount of words allows them to pack more punch into the story. If you’re not giving yourself a little time to process the story, you might be cheating yourself out of some truly mind-blowing insights. So while, yes, it is a good format to read when you don’t have much time, keep a notepad handy to jot down notes and questions.

A biography: The right mood for this depends entirely on the kind of biography you’re reading. A rock star’s autobiography? Sprawl face down on the bed, put their music on blast, and keep a variety of spicy snacks at hand. Denim and leather are A+ attire choices in this case. A biography of a 19th century scientist? Time to get dressed in majorly comfortable clothes, set up a decadent chocolate tray (trust me) and indulge in the mix of practicality and luxury.

A science book: Unless you’re a scientist of some kind – and maybe even then – you might need a bit of help with concentration. Get comfortable (but not too comfortable), stock up on the coffee and consider turning on some white noise or Coffitivity. Bonus points if you can actually sequester yourself in a coffee shop for a couple of hours. Keep book flags, a notepad, and pens handy. Believe me, a quality pen will make the experience so much better.

A poetry tome: This is the king of ambiance books. I don’t even think the simple approach (a book and a flat surface) applies to this one. You need to be in the zone. Sportswear is out, you need quiet music drifting through your home, drink herbal tea during the day and a glass of wine at night. No chocolate, just set up a little berry platter. Curl up under a throw blanket and dive in.

Do you prefer an ambiance when you read or it doesn’t matter to you as long as you have the book, time and flat surface trifecta?