Reading Nook: Trish Hall roams the house, searching for the right spot

Journalist and writer Trish Hall reads nonfiction in the window seat of her Brookhaven Hamlet, N.Y., kitchen, but prefers to read novels in bed, late at night, free from texts and news alerts.
(Larry Wolhandler)

I keep trying to find the perfect place to read. Unfortunately I’m like a dog, restless and roaming. I move around, depending on the weather, the time of the day, who is in the room and, of course, what I am reading, because what I am reading dictates everything.

I hate to stop reading novels once I have started, so I save them for places and times when nothing can ruin the experience. Realistically, that means it is best to read in bed, through the night. (Luckily I am married to someone who insists the light does not bother him.)

Once I’ve settled in, I read until I’ve finished the book or just can’t keep my eyes open. It might be 2 or 3 a.m. There will be no texts or news alerts, and I won’t be tempted to check my phone. (If I don’t finish, I’ll read in the morning and make some excuse that I’m in meetings to whoever is looking for me.)

Most nonfiction I read on the window seat in the kitchen of my home in Brookhaven Hamlet, a small village on the eastern end of Long Island. I sometimes say I write or exercise in the morning, but that is a lie. Here is the actual truth of my morning routine: I make warm lemon juice and set it on a stool that I have pulled next to the window seat from under the island. (It’s a great cheap metal knockoff of one I saw at Copper Beech, an idyllic food and home furnishings store that opened in nearby Bellport two years ago.) Phone in hand, I settle into the window seat to continue reading all the news I didn’t get to when I picked up the phone on waking.


Depending on the season, I am under a light blanket from Target or a voluminous furry one from West Elm. I read standard news-junkie fare — the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Axios, Politico, Pacific Standard, etc. — and then, depressed, I will make breakfast. Before I get to work, it is back to the window seat with tea for a brief run at a nonfiction book, currently rotating between “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis, a tale of a long-standing friendship and collaboration between two Israeli professors, and “Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.,” by Danielle Allen, a memoir about the author’s once-promising cousin — arrested at 15, jailed for 11 years, murdered at 29.

If it is really cold, I migrate 10 feet to sit in front of the gas fire on a sofa I inherited from my stepmother, covered for 50 years in still-functional crewel fabric. I hide upstairs if there are people around and stretch out on the wicker chaise in my office, which sounds comfortable but isn’t. I always seem to be sliding, due to a mistaken fabric choice.

In the evening, after some compulsively watchable television like “The French Village,” I often read books about health and science. By my bed right now is the “The Longevity Diet” by Valter Longo, director of the USC Longevity Institute, which I read and reread, probably because my family history is more notable for lots of drinking and eating than for longevity. Longo explains the science behind intermittent fasting without being simplistic, showing how restricting food to a shorter time frame in the day helps regenerate cells. Because of Longo, unless I’m at a dinner party, I don’t eat after 7 p.m. or before 10 a.m. the next day.

Does it work? Who knows? As of this writing, yes.


Trish Hall is the author of “Writing to Persuade: How to Bring People Over to Your Side,” published this month by Norton.