Contrary to the habits of most people my age, I wake up rather early- around 6 or 7 in the morning. Of course, this is usually because of an early obligation, but I’m finding that even on my days off I enjoy getting up with sun, when the house is silent and the world outside is still drowsy. It just so happens to be one of my favorite times to read.

It might seem odd to start reading first thing in the morning. In fact, you might be thinking that it would put you right back to sleep. But for me, it has the opposite effect. I find myself excited to wake up and dive right into a story, especially if I had just left it the night before. It gets my mind churning and my eyes moving. At the same time, it eases me into the day. Instead of waking up and immediately running out the door, I take my time and slowly build myself up to face the day. I find that if I read in the morning (preferably with a nice big cup of black tea), I’m in a better mood throughout the day. If I wake up doing something pleasant and enjoyable, it makes sense for my mood to follow suit.

Similarly (or maybe ironically?), when night falls, the best sleeping pill is a good book. I sink into my favorite chair in the house (once again accompanied by a cup of tea, this time green) and read until my eyes begin to protest. There is something to be said about reading by a window. I find that it makes it both easier and more difficult for the reader to slip into the world of a novel. Easier because one does not feel confined to their surroundings; the window is an aid to the imagination. But at the same time, difficulty sets in when one’s mind wanders too much, to the point where they get distracted by the goings-on outdoors and lose track of the novel all together. Here lies the dilemma of the reader- controlling one’s imagination. But that, of course, is another entry in itself. Let us return to the ways in which we, as readers, can “set the mood.”

In the summertime, the greatest effect can be achieved when sitting by an open window overlooking a dark street or shadowy pathway, while the cool breeze of a threatening thunderstorm breaks up the humidity of the day. In winter, nothing beats reading beneath the warmth of a blanket while the trees shiver outside and the snow gathers in heaps. Whatever the season, darkness is key. It erases everything around us and allows us to focus only on what we can see by the light of our lamp- our books.

And so it is that my favorite time to read is in the early morning and late night, like bookends of my day.