My wife now enjoys most of her books on a Kindle, so she no longer needs a lamp to read in bed. The mild glow from a screen illuminates the words, which allows her to read in the dark, something she finds soothing.
I still prefer paper books, so to keep our bedroom dim, I’ve been using one of those tiny clip-on lights that cranes over a page like the little lamps in orchestra pits. Reading this way also reminds me of reading by flashlight — a pastime many of us enjoyed in childhood and which I’ve occasionally tried in more recent years while camping.
There’s something delightfully clandestine about reading this way. Secreted in a narrow cone of light, like a burglar cracking a safe, you feel you’re not just reading a story but stealing it, claiming it as yours and yours alone.
However it’s done, reading in spring requires a certain amount of stealth because you’re spending time with a book when you should probably be doing something else. Newspaper and magazine editors talk a lot about holiday reading and summer reading, but spring reading lacks the same sense of tradition. That’s probably because the season nudges us elsewhere — into the garden, where a hundred chores await, or out in the wider world, where the civic calendar crowds out time with a book.
On these mild March nights, I tackle only a page or two before nodding off. But it’s quality, not quantity that I’m after, so I’ve been satisfied to slowly navigate through “Rising Tide, Falling Star,” Philip Hoare’s new book about what it’s like to live near the sea.
Hoare divides his time between Southampton in his native England and Cape Cod here in the States. Most of his books are about water, which promises to resonate among Louisiana readers. There’s a surreal quality to Hoare’s writing that makes him an especially interesting author to read in the final minutes before sleep.
Sometimes, thinking about his books the next day, I’m not sure if I read the imagery in Hoare’s paragraphs or just dreamed it. Here, he writes about a storm in coastal England, a scene that could just as well have described the weather that occasionally ravages Louisiana:
“The wind howled at my window like a wild animal, a snarling beast demanding to be fed. The house held fast against horizontal rain that threatened to find every crack in the walls. The air was full of water, driven directly from the shore. Between the falling trees and the pounding waves, it seemed that the sea — for all that it was a mile away or more — was reaching out for me in the darkness.”
That’s a sobering thing to read in bed, blanketed by blackness all around. But I continued — compelled and cursed, as all readers are, by the itch to know what happens next.