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A Reader’s Refuge

Musing Mondays2

Where is your favorite place to read?

Other than the comfort of my home, I do most of my reading at the café where I read for two hours early in the morning before work. Café Flore is the destination in the Castro, where locals and tourists come to see and be seen. In the morning, stripped of its gay allure and festive spirit that reach its pinnacle midday and thereafter, it’s a haven for readers, with plenty of sunlight and classical music in the air.

During lunch break, I claim a tree outside the library building under which I read for half an hour. Morrison Library becomes my shelter from heat or rain. It’s a traditional library reading room providing an ambient atmosphere for students, myself included during my undergraduate days, to take a break from the rigors of academic life. It offers comfortable seating for leisurely reading, and maintains a circulating collection of popular newly published fiction and non-fiction. Morrison Library also has a limited collection of circulating audiobooks, subscriptions to several popular magazines and a few daily newspapers. Restricted only to Cal students, staff and library card holders, and that it’s an internet backwater, Morrison Library is the true haven for readers.

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21 Responses

  1. Every time you mention Café Flore I get nostalgic for San Francisco, where I lived 30 years ago. Ah, those were the days. Here in NYC in nice weather I like to find a shady bench in Riverside Park with a view of the Hudson River to do some outdoor reading, with a thermos of coffee or iced tea. To me that is one of the nicest treats. If I lived nearer to midtown I would stop in and read in one of the big reading rooms at the Public Library, just for the atmosphere. There is something about reading in a big quiet room filled with other readers that is conducive to concentration.

    • Really? So you were a regular when Mamood owned Café Flore. The new owner I believe took over in 2004 and his direction was more toward the bar scene. A bit of a digression: Shortly after he took over, eager to push alcohol sales (even in the morning), his manager decided to blast club music in lieu of the peaceful classical tunes that regulars were inured to listening. A regular, an old lady went up to confront him at the counter. She was told never to come back if the music was not to her liking. After that scandalous episode, a couple of the Thai people who worked there (who are also my friends) walked out of their job. All the regulars boycotted Café Flore for almost a month until the owner himself apologized to Deborah. Classical music reigned again, and gone were the drink menus on the tables in the morning, so were the drag-queen manager and his crew. (Grin)

      As to the library, I find that the public library can be noisy at times. People who aren’t reading end up occupying the tables for their own purpose, like charging up the phones. I find academic library, which is also my workplace, more peaceful and attuned to serious reading and research. We all have very spacious reading room with 30 feet tall ceiling here at Cal.

  2. That café looks amazing! I find libraries eerily quiet.

  3. Oh that sounds just lovely! I tend to need a bit more white noise in my reading spaces than a library offers. My house usually does that for me. :O) I love my local coffee shops, for this too.

    • The academic library actually has this white noise that reminds me of a full of students seating for final back in my undergraduate days. The drone of pages turning and pen tips scribbling on papers. Public library can be too distracting as people are rummaging through those DVD cases. Not to mention the incessant cellphone ringers on weekends.

  4. Sounds like you have some wonderful reading spots.

  5. Your spaces sound wonderful…I envy you the cafe first thing in the morning. That’s definitely the plus side of living in the city!!

    • I doubt anyone actually brews coffee at home here in San Francisco. Cafés and coffee shops dot all the corners of the city. I especially enjoy that quietude at my coffee shop, where I know my friends will be there.

  6. Morrison Library sounds like a great place – love picturing being able to read a book under a tree – is there a bench or something though? Can’t imagine just sitting down on the grass… I’m weird that way – lol

    Here’s my Musing Mondays (June 6) post!

    • Outside the main library building, where I work, there is a glade with benches. On a sunny day you’ll find students taking over those benches with their books. I always like to sit under the trees, some are equipped with benches. I feel lucky to have gone to school and now work here at Berkeley. It’s very liberal and bookish.

  7. looks lovely…
    I can’t read before work. as it is a have to get up at 4:30 am.

  8. wow, that place looks amazing. and i love that you have dedicated reading times built into your day.

    • I developed this habit when I was an undergraduate. I had 8 o’clock almost everyday and I found my brain worked most efficiently in early morning. I would review my lecture notes even before the lecture. Then I kept up that habit when I started working except I am now reading for pleasure. 🙂

  9. If I could bring myself to get up two hours earlier to read before for work, I feel like I’d be a much happier man. Good on you for having the discipline for that!

    • It’s been a habit since college days. I go to bed no later than 9:30 pm and wake up at 5 in the morning. I cannot read in bed because I’ll get groggy. I like it so much better to have got up and start off the day early.

  10. I am very impressed with your discipline: good for you keeping a routine of reading. I tend to read at the end of the day. I love the photograph and it definitely is an invitation to forget about the rest of the world and curl up with a book.

    • I do most of my reading early in the morning, then a bit of reading at lunch, and about the same amount after work.

  11. I have so many fond recollections of reading in Morrisson Library when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley. It truely is the prefect spot to curl up in a read a great book. Thanks for bringing back memories.

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