There are few literary characters I identify with more than Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre; if you know her story, you know that she's honorable, kind and honest, but she's never a pushover. She stands up for what she believes in, even in the face of great pressure, and she always honors her heart. And she got that way, Bronte directs us to assume, by reading. Starting from a young age, books were her refuge. Indeed, a special reading nook was her only safe space in a home filled with narcissism and negativity.

Bronte describes such a place in the first chapter of her famous novel (from Literature.org):

"A breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room, I slipped in there. It contained a bookcase: I soon possessed myself of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat cross-legged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.

Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast."

Ideally, a reading nook is a place to get away from it all — just like Jane, to escape from the outside world — no matter what troubles you face.

How to create your own nook

If you want to create your own, keep in mind that there's no definition of what a nook should be — only that it should be personal to you. I prefer to keep electronic media of all kinds out of my own reading area, and I like plenty of natural light, plus a good lamp behind me for when it's finally too dim to read. I also think plants are imperative to a good nook, as well as a place to keep a cup of tea. But there are other ways to do it....

The simple nook

A woman reading with succulent plants in the foreground.
A simple reading nook means it's easy to recreate in a new place. (Photo: Karolina/Pexels)

A great reading nook needn't be complicated; indeed, it can almost be more of a state of mind than anything else. A spot to rest that's a bit away from the rest of your space, no matter how small, with some plants and a cup of tea is all you need.

The under-stairs nook

An under-stairs book nook.
(Photo: Wicker Paradise/flickr)

The under-stairs area is often under utilized in most homes. Why not turn it into a cozy space to take a break? It could be open like this one, or feature a curtain to enclose it away from the rest of the world — or even just family members you need privacy from.

The oudoor nook

A young woman reads under a tree.
A tree offers shade and a solid trunk to lean against. (Photo: PhotoNH/Shutterstock)

I have several outdoor reading nooks, and they share plenty of qualities with their indoor cousins. They simply need an "away-from-it-all" location, a comfy place to sit (you might have to bring your own, like a camp chair or cushion) and decent light.

The half-room reading nook

A teenage boy reaches into a home library.
A simple set of shelves filled with books and a spot to sit can make one side of a room into a reading spot. (Photo: Can Anh Khai/Pexels)

If you're lucky enough to have some space to play with, you could make one side of a room in your house a reading nook, like the example above. Do you have a spare wall that could be filled in with shelves and a spot to sit?

The big chair reading nook

A young woman reads ensconced in a big chair.
If your big chair is next to shelves full of books, all the better. (Photo: Hoang Bin/Pexels)

The big-chair reading nook is a classic for a reason; it feels great to be enveloped in a giant chair while your mind is far away.

The tiny nook

A woman in a wall nook, surrounded by books.
Small spaces have many positives, not least of which is it's easy to keep them clean and tidy. (Photo: David Englehardt/flickr)

If you don't have much space, a very small nook could work for you. As you can see above, you can do quite a bit with not much area to work with. This spot looks like it's just been reclaimed from empty interior wall space. And some might even prefer a womb-like nook as opposed to an open space.

The window bench nook

A woman on a bench reads a book.
A bench nook is ideal for those who like to move around while they read. You can sit, stand or lie down. (Photo: maradon 333/Shutterstock)

I find it tough, but some people like to read on their laptops (and you can find all public-domain books for free online, like "Jane Eyre" and many more). And a bench reading nook is an easy one to create. Simply pull up a nice wide bench to a window, add a couple pillows and a blanket, and voila — you've got a reading nook.

The corner nook

A man reads a book in a corner.
Look for a corner where the view is best, whether indoor or outdoor, so you can give your eyes a break. (Photo: Asia Images Group/Shutterstock)

Like under the stairs, corners of rooms are often neglected or empty spaces, which makes them perfect for converting into a reading spot.

The ultimate nook

A reading nook within a skylight.
Plants, a quiet view, lots of light, and a comfy chaise; this nook has it all. (Photo: Dekcuf/flickr)

Let's all hope that we live to such an age that we can put together a truly glorious reading nook like this one, complete with a pretty garden to look into, nice accessories, a great view and a skylight.

The best nook: Your own

Starre Vartan's reading nook in Berkeley, California.
I love that I can open the windows in my nook wide and enjoy the breeze when the weather is pleasant. (Photo: Starre Vartan)

You may love to look through nooks and get ideas, but if you do have one, there's no nook like home. (This is mine!)