No sooner had I
declared my writing hiatus than I was encouraged by Arhaus to share my idea of a dream reading nook. I would have complete creative freedom, and I was more than welcome to use pictures of their products for inspiration in exchange for some endorsement. Naturally, I got curious. What is this company that has
taken interest in my blog?
short Google search, I learnt that Arhaus is a furniture manufacturer that was founded in 1986 in Cleveland, by Jack Reed and his son, John. The name itself –
Arhaus - is a cross between Århus, which is a city in Denmark, and the term “our
house”. The company claims to adhere to a policy of using
recycled material, and abstaining from using wood from the endangered rain forests.
I got interested in this project for several reasons. One being that it would give me an opportunity to branch out, and try something new. But it would also give me an opportunity to talk about something that I actually care about, namely reading.
Also, let me state in advance that I am not getting paid by Arhaus to write
wanted to partake in this project, but there was still the issue that made me go on hiatus in the first place: the finals. They're only ten days away now, and
it’s getting hard to see anything above the growing pile of books and notepads.
However, if there’s anything that I learnt in this past year is that writing
is important for my emotional well-being. I was reminded by my
brother of the short story, The Door in the Wall by H.G. Welles, about a man
who would sometimes encounter a mysterious door that led to a fantastical world, a garden of Eden. The catch was that the door would only appear when the hero was
about to reach an important milestone in his life. For the past eight months, writing has been my door in the wall, and I really wanted to go through it this time, finals be damned! For me, writing satisfies a kind of hunger that no
other art form or hobby ever could. Finally, all it took was a gentle push from my family, a.k.a. the only people I ever listen to, and here we are.
reading space. What is my dream reading space? Where would I like to be the most
when I'm about to immerse myself in a good story? As with many other things in life, there is a discrepancy between our
expectations and the real life. Between the fantasy image of the perfect moment
with a good book, and the reality of trying to carve out the time to actually
sit down and read.
preparation for this post, I ransacked my own mind in search for my fantasy reading sweet spot, and what I found were specific images that have been imprinted in my mind by pop culture and advertisement. There’s Belle's library from Beauty and the Beast, in itself an image that has become iconic among book lovers. There's the Batcave from Tim Burton’s
Batman (Michael Keaton, FTW!). But if I really am honest with myself, there is one image that stands out the most for me.
I call this piece “The Study”. Let me illustrate:
season one episode of New Girl titled "Fancyman, part 1", Jess and Nick go to a party at the
mansion of Jess' friend, Russel. Nick hates the mansion at first, as it
stands for everything that he hates – rich snobs, arrogance, and excess. But
then he enters Russel’s study and everything changes. He literally falls in
love with this room, and with its décor. Suddenly, he realises that this room
represents everything that Nick isn’t, but wishes himself to be – a successful
and accomplished man, who is respected by his peers, and owns a lot of cool,
expensive stuff. Although Nick’s behaviour is exaggerated for comedic effect, I
still find his reaction to seeing Russel’s study totally believable. And not just
because he wants to be as rich and successful as Russel.
is, I didn’t make this connection when I first saw this episode, but now that do
think about it, I always wanted to have study like the one that Nick fell in
love with. It is an image I have carried with me since early childhood, after
having read one too many Sherlock Holmes stories. The study is a room where you can enjoy the faint and yet distinct smells of books, and old furniture. It’s a room that invites you to sit down, take a deep breath and just read. The colours here are dark, but soothing. There are wall to wall bookshelves, filled with absolutely every book you ever wanted to read. There are collectibles and souvenirs. But they're not just things. These objects tell a story; they work as a reflection of the owner's personality (in my case, I imagine a row of Vinyl Pop action figures).
So much for
the fantasy. Reality is hectic. Reality is filled with surprises and it requires
responsibility and attention. In reality, my study would be an unholy mess. Think balls of yarn on the desk. Think dust bunnies hiding in the corners. The truth is, I would be too far away from feeling that inner peace because I would be too distracted by the mess.
It isn’t the physical space itself or the symbols of materialism and comfort that I find so attractive in my dream study. Rather it’s what “the study” represents – accomplishment, self-assurance, and the sense of inner peace. And, of course, it also represents all the free time you have so that you can read all the books on those wall to wall bookshelves. You don’t have to go anywhere. There are no chores to be done, no petty distractions of the real world. Just you and a book in your lap.
In reality, I read
whenever I get the time, and that means that the “dream” reading space is
wherever I am at the moment. Most of the
time, I prefer to read in my living room. But if the book is a good one, it doesn’t
really matter where I'm reading it. I read Asimov’s The Robots of
Dawn in a single afternoon, while lying on my bed. Trains are also a good place
to read, I think that most of us can agree on that. Coincidentally, the only
reason I could finish Asimov’s Foundation was because I read it on a train, and had nothing else to do with my time (that was pre-smartphones, mind you). Of
course, now I love that book, and the whole series it spun, and all that
thanks to that one long train ride.
Reading is a cherished pastime for many of us, and whether you read to escape reality or to enjoy a good story, you want to be able to fully immerse yourself in the story. That immersion demands peace and quiet. It demands your full attention. And most importantly, it demands time. In a world where everything happens so fast, where we get frustrated with the slow wi-fi, and get crushed by the weight of our own expectations, being able to take a deep breath and just read for a couple of hours is somewhat of a luxury. But it's an important luxury. One that is sometimes necessary for our emotional well-being.
So, this was my *somewhat* commercial post. Like I said, I'm not getting paid for this. But if you ask me to collaborate with a company that is environmentally conscious, in a project that allows me to express myself creatively and take a well-deserved break from all the studying, I say, "Why not?". Two of the pictures I used in this post are from Arhaus.com and if you ask me, their products really are beautiful. I also posted some links, so you can check them out.
As for me, I am thanking you for your time, and diving right back into the ocean of caffeine and despair.
Arhaus, the Blog
Arhaus Living Room Furniture
Labels: Arhaus, essay, reading nook project