During a recent power outage, as much as I was counting on getting a few things accomplished that night, I had to put my plans on the shelf because they all depended on electricity.
An attempt at cleaning the house in the dark became a time consuming exercise with the added step of redirecting the flashlight at different angles to keep checking to see if I hit the right spots. True enough, I had all the time in the world, but the brewing frustration wasn’t worth it.
I instantly saw the bright side, so to speak, in deciding that this would be a perfect opportunity to catch up on my reading. With stacks of books that awaited, I relished the thought of an evening in quiet serenity, enjoying a good read.
I went to the basement and pulled out my lantern-style LED flashlight. I poured myself a glass of wine and along the way, I picked up the book I was reading at the time.
When I found my comfy spot in the living room for Ivy the Wonder Cat and me to chill out, I put my glass down next to me, I set up the lantern and opened my book.
One minute later, I moved my lantern to a different spot because I couldn’t see half of the page, as my shoulder was causing a shadow. One minute after that, I moved the lantern again, this time a little closer, to give the light more intensity because the light was too weak to comfortably illuminate my page.
A few minutes later, I moved to a different location in the living room altogether, to try to find that sweet spot where the light would hit the book just right. Ivy was not amused.
Before I knew it, I found myself hugging the lantern, holding on to it between my elbows, as the light projected from my chest to the book precariously dangling at the end of my hands. It wasn’t the most comfortable position, but it worked… for a while.
When my limbs went numb and I realized I really wasn’t absorbing what I was reading, I scavenged for other lighting solutions with the same determination as Wile E Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons. After turning the house upside down and developing different contraptions for illuminating a book, it was close to midnight. I gave up and went to bed.
What is odd is that over the years, I have always had an ample supply of flashlights around (just in case), but I guess I never really looked at them from the perspective of whether or not they were practical for long-term reading.
Or is it just that age thing catching up with me again and my old eyes just can’t read in dim lighting anymore, despite a lifetime of eating my carrots as my Mom often suggested?
When I was a kid, I was no different than anyone else, sometimes reading by flashlight under the covers when I should have been sleeping. But let’s face it, that wasn’t the most ergonomic position by which to read, and that was long before I would get a muscle cramp from sneezing the wrong way, so that option was out.
When the power was restored, the hunt began for the perfect reading light in case of power failures.
A trip to any hardware store will offer an impressive and mesmerizing selection of lighting solutions. I especially liked the ones that said “press here” so that even through the packaging, I could test them out.
For the ones that didn’t offer the opportunity to “press here” I loved that they offered some means of comparison by saying how many “lumens” they emitted. After reading about 20 packages of flashlights, I mumbled to myself “the more lumens, the merrier”, and placed a few in my shopping basket.
And so began the auditioning process of taking home flashlights, saving the receipts, carefully unwrapping them, and locking myself in the bathroom with the light off to test whether or not I could read comfortably with it. It felt like the Wile E Coyote experiments all over again.
Some lights were returned but I kept a few good ones that projected significantly more light than my trusty old LED lantern. That way, the next time the power goes out, I will be better prepared.
Just the same I don’t think the hunt is really over as I don’t think I found “the one” yet. I may have to wait and resume my search when the sporting goods stores are fully stocked with camping merchandise to find a broader range of lighting options.
When the power goes out, I can’t think of a better way of passing the time constructively than by reading a good book that has been on my bucket list for a while. But surprisingly, having the right light(s) to accomplish that has proven to be much more challenging than I thought.
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3 responses to “The Hunt for the Perfect Reading Light”
Might I suggest trying the hardware or cycling sections of stores. I have a couple that you wear on your head and the lamp has a tilt function to help direct the light. They’re great when doing fine work and you need directed light, working under cabinets where you don’t need extra clutter to deal with and the like. Just tried it on a book and seems like it might work well for you.
Thanks very much for the comment and for that great idea! I will definitely look into it!
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