My Favourite Place to Read and Write

If you will look in the center of this picture, you’ll see a round table by the closed French doors, with a wrought iron base and a slate top. The 2 chairs are hidden. The shop is Jacobs and Field in Headington, UK, which lies across the street from where C. S. Lewis’ wife lived before they were married. What makes this one of my favourite places for reading and writing?

Well, first, they have great coffee. After all, it is a coffee shop. The food is good too – simple and wholesome. The shop also holds lots of memories for me, as I’ve been going there since 2012. It is a convenient location, which is quite important. I have often gone to Jacobs and Field after praying Morning Prayer with the clergy at St. Andrew’s church up the street. It’s been lovely to bike over to the shop after prayer for some extra quiet time.

But if you look at the picture, you may guess another important reason I like it there. Note the defined space. I’ve got the corner off to myself, sitting at a much more interesting table than one of the wooden booths. When the weather is nice and the doors are open, it is an especially lovely spot.

Space definition is important for “atmosphere,” that is, if you are wanting to do something quiet and reflective. If you are in a public place, such as this, to have your own little corner gives you a sense of a personal location that you can feel almost belongs to you. This is especially so if you frequent the same spot – it feels like home. You’ve established a comfortable relationship with the space. This feeling of settledness aids concentration. You get into a spot like that, put your ear buds in and start listening to some quiet cello music by Bach or Haydn, and you are good to go – well, after you’ve had your eggs on toast!

By the way, having a regular spot in a cafe such as this leads to a relational connection with the employees. They begin to think of the space as your spot as well! They start to notice when you are not there. A sense of mutual belonging grows. That’s quite valuable, because friendships are always valuable.

The design of cozy spots in a public place is important. It enables a kind of presence of the customer, or of more intimate social relations, that is – shall we say, at least – hindered by the sprawling open-space concept. A mixture of the two in an establishment like a cafe is ideal.

Where is your favourite, public place to read and be quiet? Have a picture? Share it in the comments, preferably on Instagram!

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