Inspired by Little Women, one of my favourite pastimes as a child was finding the perfect reading hideaway. The dream hasn't died
Over at Abebooks, Beth Carswell remembers reading in her sister's closet as a child, as well as "building forts and sequestering myself in a small cell of sofa cushions and blankets". I went through a period, too, when I'd lie under my bed with a collection of books – I'd drag my lamp under there, and a pillow, and it became my own secret reading den, complete with scribbles about the various injustices which had been done to me by my family on the planks above me.
It was certainly safer than my short-lived experiment into reading up a tree. Louisa May Alcott made it sound so possible – "Jo spent the morning on the river with Laurie and the afternoon reading and crying over The Wide, Wide World, up in the apple tree" – but believe me, it isn't at all comfortable. I tried it in our own apple tree, and lasted about 10 minutes – and those were spent more imagining myself the heroine of Little Women, than actually reading.
It was easier to recreate another of Jo's reading nooks: "Running up, Meg found her sister eating apples and crying over the Heir of Redclyffe, wrapped up in a comforter on an old three-legged sofa by the sunny window. This was Jo's favourite refuge, and here she loved to retire with half a dozen russets and a nice book, to enjoy the quiet and the society of a pet rat who lived nearby and didn't mind her a particle. As Meg appeared, Scrabble whisked into his hole. Jo shook the tears off her cheeks and waited to hear the news." Crunching through apples while wrapped in a blanket in the sunshine: that I could and would do frequently.
These days, I tend to do my reading lying on my bed, or on the sofa. Or, when it gets colder, sitting on the floor with my back to the radiator. I have fewer endless afternoons to devote to reading – but if I did, then a window seat, a cushion-strewn trampoline or a tent hung from a tree all look like lots of fun. How about you? Am I alone in hiding under the bed as a child? And what's your perfect spot these days?