Today is one of my favourite days of the year; World Book Day!
Whether you open a novel on the bus journey home, or curl up on the sofa with a book this evening, you should dedicate some time to the joys of reading today. If you’re like me though, you like to combine your reading experience with a nice relaxed setting and perhaps a nice hot drink. Here’s a list of my favourite places to relax with a good book in Hull, so you can share the simple pleasure of literature this World Book Day.
As a recent English Literature graduate, reading was a massive part of my life for four years. Often I would have to read up to around four novels per week, spanning different genres and eras. To keep things interesting, I would try to read in different locations.
Whilst the most optimised place to read for most people is the library, I often found reading from there to be a little intense; the silence can often be deafening and I found I benefited from the ambience of a natural setting. This list is made up of the places I found the most successful for a long reading session.
The Barista, Newland Ave
This one is a little personal for me as The Barista was there for me when I needed it the most. During my Masters degree, I would take my laptop, the current book I was studying and consume a copious amount of coffee at The Barista. The vibe was always chilled enough for me to focus on my work but relaxed enough for me to snap back into reality and converse with my peers. The staff were always friendly, the music was always varied, and most importantly for me, the coffee was amazing. Often I would stay all day and would be opted to eat there too which was always a treat as their menu is varied and the food is great.
One book that sticks out for me there is Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. Being the opening novel to my Masters degree’s thesis, it holds a special place in my heart. The thrilling setting and mysterious plot was a good reason why I spent so long in The Barista; I was glued to my seat and was forced to turn each page to unravel the mystery of oppressive inn.
Ferens Art Gallery, Hull City Centre
This one was a rarity for me. As a student, I never found the time to travel out to town. However when I found myself there with a few hours to kill, there would be nowhere else I would rather be than Ferens Art Gallery with a good book. There is something about being surrounded by art whilst reading that makes you feel a little sophisticated. Plus they have a great cafe that has been refurbished to make it much more spacious and modern.
One book that I read there is George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a must read for everybody. The novel has become ever-so relevant recently and offers a chilling commentary to the political landscape of 2019. However, the novel presents a convincing love story that breaks the restraints of politics. Find the gallery on Queen Victoria Square in the city centre.
The Dancing Goat Coffee House, Beverley Road
Round the corner from my student house is this lovely coffee shop. Usually I would see this place for just five minutes as I got my order to go and drink on my walk to university. However when summer rolled around and it was dissertation time, I would spend a lot longer in their little garden area. We had a blissful summer last year (apparently, as I didn’t get to see most of it) and the heat returned my need for iced coffee. The Dancing Goat had a range of iced coffee, and other iced beverages, that cooled me down during the rare day I got to go outside. Their garden hosted many reading sessions for the novels I had to study and allowed me to get some fresh air during a time when I was stuck indoors writing.
One that stands out is John King’s The Football Factory. The gritty world of the working class that King presented felt very real, and didn’t feel too far removed from home. The novel explored the issues of toxic masculinity and how working class culture often forces young men into violence.
Arts Cafe, Middleton Hall at University of Hull
This one is a no-brainier for University of Hull students, but also a great idea for the general public. The Arts Cafe opened in my final year as a student, but offered to be a great place to relax in between lectures and seminars. The space is brand new so has a modern feel but still retains the redbrick feel that the university is notorious for.
With food options of artisan sandwiches, homemade cakes and naturally made ice cream, it is also a valid option for lunch whilst being on campus all day. The cafe is that perfect middle ground of being surrounded by other hardworking students and having that ambient sound that the library is missing, making it a great place to read.
One book I remember reading in there is Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk. The novel’s setting of rural Spain, along with its modernist feel left me in a weird haze where I seemed to float through my consciousness from the front to the back cover.